You Have to See This! Space Mutiny (1988)

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I’m surprised that “Space Mutiny” came out so late in the eighties, as it feels like it could have easily been dropped in 1985 when “Star Wars” was a juggernaut. In the decade, so many studios were eager to jump on the “Star Wars” band wagon and they did it whether they had the resources or not. “Space Mutiny” is that epic product of the decade that takes everything bad about the “Star Wars” craze and plops it on to one messy, festering pile of nonsense.

Ever since its debut being relentlessly mocked on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” in 1997, the South African Space Opera has ironically garnered a resurgence. As well its given way to a whole base of movie lovers that hate it but also cant help but love its spunk. The fact that it stars Reb Brown, one of the worst actors of any decade is the icing on the cake. “Space Mutiny” (that title just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) Reb Brown as Dave Ryder, a space fighter pilot for the Southern Sun, a gigantic spaceship filled with people in sequins who party a lot, hoping to colonize a planet. The Southern Sun has been traveling through space for decades upon decades and was set up as its own society.

The leader of the Southern Sun is Alex Jansen (Cameron Mitchell), an old professor type that intends to create a new home planet for humanity and will do so by the rules, rules that were established when the Southern Sun was sent out into space. Jansen presses Ryder into service when Elijah Kalgan (John Phillip Law), the head of the Southern Sun’s security, decides to try to overthrow Jansen’s rule so he can then team up with a group of space pirates and become super rich and sell everyone on the Southern Sun into slavery.

But Dave Ryder and his pecks won’t allow that, as he and Jansen’s buxom daughter Lea declare war on Kalgan. A Star War, if you will. Despite being tagged as a space opera, there’s very little space to be featured in the film. A lot of the footage was shamelessly re-used from “Battlestar Galactica.” Mostly, Ryder and Lea spend their time running through the ship and partying with other denizens, and getting in to battles within the belly of the ship.

There’s not a lot of explanation as to how this civilization is able to maintain itself in to space, but the final half is set in a massive elaborate basement filled with unmanned boilers, septics, pipes, metal stairwells, and even more pipes. I guess someone on the crew found a humongous factory with a system of sewers and tunnels and just called it a day. There are also mystical women known as Ballerians that don’t serve a ton of purpose except to pad the film, but their scenes are fun in their absolute incoherence.

Despite the film’s lackluster pacing and anemic action scenes, Brown’s always performing at a thirty, resembling a handyman on roid rage. That’s one of the bigger treats of “Space Mutiny.” Brown’s signature over acting and chewing of the scenery (along with his horrendous fight scenes) make him a bargain basement Flash Gordon, just like he was a bargain basement Captain America. John Phillip Law’s Kalgan is a decent super villain with a coherent evil scheme, for the most part. He often feels like a third tier scifi villain stuck in this Z grade scifi flick.

Science“Space Mutiny” is by no means a good film. It’s not even a competent one. But it’s filled with so many odd nuances and silliness that the cringe and second hand embarrassment is part of the fun.