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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Retro Review: Space Camp (1986)

Space Camp
Cast: Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, Larry B. Scott, Joaquin Phoenix, Tate Donovan, Tom Skerritt
Genre: Space Adventure
U.S Box Office Gross: over $9 Million 

Plot: The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit 

'More Like Space Dump'

A family adventure film about a group of adolescents at a real-life space camp, they are sent to space for real. Unfortunately, the shuttle was still in pre-flight and thus, wasn't prepared to undergo any mission in full. With only limited air supply and no communication on earth, the kids and their instructor must band together and find a way to get back home. Kate Capshaw follows up her turn in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as Andie: an astronaut, who still has dreams of going into space. Egged on by her husband, Zach, Andie assembles a young team in Kathryn, Tish, Kevin, Rudy & Max at the camp to help her fulfil her ambitions.

The film features a cast of '80s movie icons where some of them did fare little better, but over time as older actors, they've seen their careers go in opposite directions and they mostly languished doing B-movies and straight- to- DVD efforts. Space Camp may have been a relative hit or so, but it didn't really make bigger stars out of Lea Thompson, Tate Donovan, Kate Capshaw and Kelly Preston. Released in 1986 during the wake of the Challenger space shuttle disaster, which claimed the lives of 7 American astronauts (although filming was completed, right before the tragedy had struck), it killed off any chance of success, & unlike mega-hit Apollo 13, this space-based adventure type film sank without a trace and has long been forgotten about. & in watching this effort, I can see why this film wouldn't have appealed to me as a child during the 1980s and why I wouldn't have cared for it. Having said that, this does have '80s' written all over it in its feel and with a more vigorous approach that spurred the film on, I would have enjoyed it far more. Space Camp is riddled with issues, which was further prompted by negative feedback and that the movie only reclaimed less than $10 million at the US box office on an $18 million + budget. 

Additionally, Space Camp suffers from its lack of excitement, suspense and that the story is derivative and utterly bland. It just wasn't believable and compelling enough for me to buy into it. The actual set-up isn't so bad, but in Lea Thompson, Tate Donovan and Kelly Preston, personally speaking, I thought they were too old to play as teenagers and that they should have opted for actors under 21 instead. The performances by the cast are stifled from a weightless, tame and less energizing script, which doesn't help matters either. None of their characters stand out and so, it was difficult for me to become attached to each of them. The addition of the robot and the little kid seems forced and it feels like the director and writer threw them in just to appeal to the youngsters. But hey, many youngsters didn't go to see this film and as a result, it tanked, financially, as well as critically. 

The second half of the movie is a tad interesting, but just like the events leading up to it in the story, it's nothing that special or mind-blowing, even when it tries to be realistic and serious and even then the story just didn't suck me in and stay with me until the end. What would have been cool is if the kids had to battle and contend with an evil alien creature - now that would have been far more entertaining to watch than what was presented here. 

Final Verdict:

Bottom line: but for nostalgia reasons or to relive one's childhood, there is not much to love or enjoy from Space Camp. This was not very entertaining and nor is it memorable enough. 

This is a film that tries to be and could have been a cult hit, but it wasn't and thus, it just wasn't and isn't meant to be. 


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