Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cosmos: War of the Planets!!!!

This Monday night was one of those evenings that you can never forget, nor will you ever be able to quite get your head around explaining why it was so unforgettable.

The first part of the evening, actually, is easier.  It was the occasion of my daughter’s 5th birthday.  We decided to allow her to pick the place for her celebration and she chose, of course, Yucky Cheese.   Wait, sorry, I mean Chucky Cheese.  Well, even if the pizza isn’t top quality, the kids love all the stuff there is to do.  The rides, the tubes, the Skee-ball, and video games.  They spend all night accumulating tickets you can redeem for prizes that come $1 for 1000 in bulk anywhere else.

We went there on a Monday night, not only because this was the actual day, but because we thought that the crowds would be smaller, as Ch-Ch is an insane asylum when it’s packed with people.  Unfortunately, Monday happens to be one of those days when it’s packed with people. 

Anyway, we survived.  And the kids had a great time.  And the pizza wasn’t all that bad.
When we got home, we put the kids to bed and decided to take the evening together and watch Batman Begins, which had been sitting on our TV for the better part of a week.  We get movies by mail these days, and since the Olympics have been our focus, movie watching has been on hold. 

Anyway, I put the disk in the player and we sat down to watch, but what appeared on screen was not what I expected.  The menu screen blazed with scary lettering:  “COSMOS, War of the Planets.”  The image on the screen looked very much like something out of the 50s, ala Forbidden Planet.  After taking the DVD back out and realizing that the on-line movie warehouse put the wrong DVD in the sleeve (or just didn’t check it), we decided to give the campy Sci-Fi a chance.  So here you are; Cosmos, War of the Planets!

The first thing I should say is that after watching this, I looked it up online and discovered that it was inexplicably made in 1977, not 1957.  It was made in Italy, so I guess you can consider this a spaghetti sci-fi, although the actors were mostly English or American B movie actors (or C movie after being in this).  All the voices were dubbed in the film, even though it appeared that the actors were speaking English when the filming was done.  The dubbing is terrible, and sometimes doesn’t resemble what the actors are doing on screen.  Some characters speak that don’t have to move their mouths, like the robot or the sage of the underground people who talks with his mind, but the dialog is so bad it hardly matters either way.

Oh, I should also note that the title has nothing really to do with the plot either, as there is no war, but that’s just nitpicking, right?

I decided to give the movie 10 minutes before turning it off, but it was so bad I couldn’t take my eyes off it.  It was like I was watching a museum piece representing the worst the entertainment industry of the 20th century had to offer and had to be fully informed lest society cascade into utter oblivion of cheesy cardboard special effects and dialog written by Elmo.

In this human society, most of the decisions are made by consulting a master computer called the “WIZ” (to which I hum “Ease on Down the Road”) and the whole point, I guess, was that the society they find on the planet they crash land on was destroyed when the computers they built took control, thus offering an object lesson for the hapless humans.  It gets so silly that after learning about the evil computer, they go back to their ship and consult their own computer who tells them that the “Bad computer will have a destruct button, probably red.”  But that’s only a probability, of course.

The Plot Outline on IMDB reads thus:  “A spaceship investigates an out of control planet and discovers a computer that controls an underground civilization.”  That’s pretty loose considering how the plot is structured (or not structured).  They do crash land on a planet, but the fact that the robot actually controls this civilization is only sort of developed.  The master computer has this robot minion that looks like a furnace with legs.  Those vents that are glowing are it’s eyes.  

The music is dreadful too.  At one point when confronting the robot, the music switches suddenly to Bach’s Toccatta and Fugue in D minor, but most of the time is randomly littered with bizarre 50s style sci-fi synthesized sounds.  Yikes!

I wonder if Mystery Science Theatre got a hold of this one, or if they passed it up as being too easy to make fun of.

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