Solar Crisis (1990)

HI all, Nate here. So, as most of you know, MMT’s resident Research Intern Kelby has a reputation for questionable morals and blatant misuse of company funds. He does, however, occasionally bring to my attention obscure movies for review that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Yesterday he brought me one such movie on a crusty, unmarked VHS tape, which he claims he purchased from a little old spinster at a Episcopal church bake sale. I have cause to question the veracity of that, but I will admit that I was intrigued about Solar Crisis enough to give it a look. And now I wish I hadn’t. First off, the tape quality is utter balls, whoever taped this off late-night cable in 1990 did so over what I think is an old episode of Battlestar Galactica from the ‘70s and our movie is often interrupted by scattershot segments of what was on it before. That’s one thing I’ll never miss about VHS technology, but I think I can get through it anyway.

Maybe I should review this instead…

In summary, Solar Crisis is a rip-off of the Mad Max genre, with some dystopian sci-fi elements borrowed from Robocop and Blade Runner, set in a world 60 or so years in the future (from 1990, so about 2050ish) where everyone wears earthtone camouflage and yells at each other a lot. Why is everyone so mad? Well it seems that the sun is in a particularly cantankerous mood and is busy hosing down the solar system with flares and freaky waves, all of which have baked the planet, ravaging natural resources, killing corn fields, and severely disrupting Facebook chats all over the world. Is the science sound? Well, actually, yes, yes it is. While the Great and Powerful Sol is our life-giving celestial mother, making life possible in every way, she’s also a horrible bitch who occasionally throws violent temper tantrums, ejecting coronal matter in fountains of rage so destructive that they could turn our blue marble to cinder in the blink of an eye. In our movie it hasn’t gotten that bad yet, though there’s hints that it’s coming, but the world is still in a state of chaos and starvation and stress.

Surprisingly few shots of the sun in a move with “Solar” in the title.

How do I know this? Glad you asked. First off there’s a lot (lot!) of annoying voice-over narration in the beginning, the quickest and dirtiest way to present your plot without overly taxing your audience‘s brainthinkingstuff. Only slightly less irritating is the way that everyone in this movie seems to have a television on in the background of every scene, and on those screens are always news reports of rioting peasants and helpless governments spouting empty promises, highlighted by grainy public domain stock footage clips from every social disturbance since Vietnam. Lazy.

Really? “Exterminating Squads”? Sigh.

Ok, on to the meat of our movie. Some privileged, whiney King Joffrey wannabe brat goes AWOL from a military cadet academy, steals a hovercraft ship thingie (that’s misuse of government property!), and flees into the desert, where he promptly crashes the ship because he’s a dick who can’t fly and has no respect for other peoples‘ property. Cue him wandering in the desert. The model work on the aircraft is excellent, by the way, the first of several top-shelf examples where you can tell they spent some cashmoney on practical effects. Sure, the models are poorly matted into the scenes and the lighting and shadows are way off, but at least they made the effort to bash a couple of old Dodge Dart kits together into something that looks somewhat futuristic rather than have some random Bulgarian VFX company throw a few gigabytes at an animated line drawing and call it a day (that‘s for you, Aztec Rex…).

Canopy could use some work.

I just spent two hours trying to figure out who this kid looks like and it finally hit me while I was in the drive-through line at Burger King, he looks just like John Boy Walton. Sort of. This is the reason why I need a new hobby. So the kid’s on foot now, heading for “Red Sands” to catch a bus somewhere. But he’s out of his element and seems to have nothing other than the clothes on this back and a can of hairspray in his pocket, if only he would providentially stumble upon a Unibomber shack out in the desert that happens to be both occupied and supplied with water (imagine the odds!).

Just a kid with a dream.

The homeowner is an old geezer named Travis, played by the mummified corpse of nearly-famous character actor Jack Palance. Why is Travis out here in the middle of nowhere in an adobe hut all alone, chilling all day in his armchair listening to baseball on the radio and staring up into his stainglass sunlight? How does he keep the lights on? How does he eat, what does he eat? How does he keep that chin so perfectly stubbled? What does he do all day long when he’s not posing for the camera? Does he have a Pinterest account? I have no idea, and neither does Travis or the director or whoever cut and spliced this movie together at the last minute before the studio contract expired. Travis just…exists.

Wonder what’s on CBS tonight?

For some reason not fully explained in Palance’s script notes, Travis agrees to take the bratty kid to the Red Sands bus station. They climb on his rattley old sidecar motorbike (of course he has a sidecar motorbike) and head off down the dusty road on his quest to get some punk he just met across the desert. Just once I’d love to see an eccentric movie loner who drove a 1987 Ford Escort station wagon or a vanilla minivan, something not tricked out with missile launchers and artfully spraypainted anarchistic graffiti.

Interesting sidecar wheel design, I’ll give them that.

It’s not long before they are stranded on the road, but here comes a robot semi truck owned by this timeline‘s Globe-spanning Eeeevil Representative of the Military Industrial Complex, the IXL Corporation, a multi-tentacled beast that has its claws in much of the world‘s economy. IXL is betting that the world-roasting solar flares will not be that bad after all and then they can profit from rebuilding civilization. This movie does have some interesting things to say about the role of mega-corporations in artificially keeping the word’s growth slow enough that they can maintain control of it and how technology always used as a tool to keep the masses down and the rich up (very Robotcop-like in the way it presents Corporate America as 110% bloodthirsty for money).

Painted black for evil.

So Travis and the kid try and get a semi to stop so they can hitch a ride (well thought-out plan). After learning the hard way that the robot trucks don‘t stop for obstructions, as his impromptu roadblock just gets his broken motorcycle squashed, Travis decides to test out the rumor that the trucks will stop for a living biological thing by standing in the road with his arms up. That works and they are able to climb aboard before the truck starts off again. Odd that the semi’s programming will let it run into a hard metal, flammable motorbike that could damage it, but not a fleshy blood bag that wouldn’t even leave a mark. Nothing we learn about IXL Corp here or later suggests that they care at all about people, especially those wandering along roads like common hobos.

That’s going to end well.

As they ride along we have a “character moment“ as Travis says he can’t remember his own last name, which seems significant (but it‘s really not *spoiler!*). Because someone on the production staff saw The Road Warrior, a ground of brigands dressed in typical PA fashions now roar up to ambush the truck. They find Travis and the annoying kid and address the old man as “Colonel” and seem amazed that he‘s here and not doing Colonely things, which you’d think would play some future role in the movie but it doesn’t. This movie’s script seems to have been written by ten guys in ten separate rooms, either that or some intern accidentally lost the only copy of the master script the day before filming was to begin and the director just said “Fuck it, let’s shoot!”. On the plus side, those highwaymen sure have some impressive tophats!

I don’t know why I’m here either, buddy.

So, that over, Travis and the kid get to a rundown wasteland bar (of course they do), populated by all the stock characters you see in post-apoc desert watering holes (of course they‘re all here). These include the barkeep who gives drinks away for free to our heroes, a surprisingly well-spoken hooker with a heart of gold, and some douchey fratboy with a spacey, high-dollar hotrod car. Why are the lights always so damn dim in these bars? Why can’t anyone ever open a window or slap a mop around, this place is a dump, where is the Health Department when you need it? The bratty AWOL kid eventually leaves with the blow-dried fratboy for the bus station, a character who has no backstory about why he’s hanging around a skuzzy saloon in the middle of the night when he’s so clean-cut and obviously rich, but none is expected.

She’s cute, and probably cheap.

They don’t get far before they are run off the road by an armed hovercraft (another excellent model), the innocent driver is murdered, and the kid is taken away by force. But it’s not the military academy staff coming to get him, or even his ex-girlfriend’s mob father, it’s some over-eager corporate suits from IXL who better have a permit for those machineguns. Why them? Because earlier in the bar some forbidden zone vagabonds brought in a guy who they found half-desiccated out in the desert, who speaks a few paragraphs of dialogue to the kid in Latin (wtf?) before dying. The IXL guys want to know what he said to the kid and they’ll kill anyone who gets in their way. Why? Why do you keep asking me, how should I know? It seems, maybe, that the dead guy knew some incriminating corporate secrets or something, that wasn’t exactly clear.

Desert interception.

Back at the bar, another group of IXL goons have come for old man Travis and they catch him outside and haul him off (collateral damage as he was seen with the kid and the dead guy). But now the US military shows up, personally led the Admiral who is in command of the entire planet’s defense system, a man who should really leave all this boots-on-the-ground grunt work to the expendable guys. And he’s Goddamn Charlton Heston! Why is the Admiral here? It seems the AWOL kid is his grandson and he’s all for wasting vast amounts of scarce government resources to find him. Why is Charlton Heston in this movie? It couldn’t have been money, this film’s budget was paltry compared to other sci-fi movies of the same era and Heston was still a recognizable enough name to be able to command some serious money. Perhaps he was doing the director a solid because they were friends? Or maybe he was under contract to act in this movie so he could get funding for a project of his own? Who knows, but it’s clear from the first scene that he doesn’t want to be here. Or, more correctly, he was thinking, “Crap, I have to be here, but they can’t stop me from hamming it up like deranged coke-fiend teaching a Method Acting class, that’ll teach my agent to sign me up for stuff without asking first.”

Maybe his bookie made him do it.

So he talks to the bar girl, who is either the worst actress ever or so nervous to be around Charlton Heston that she can’t read her lines, or that’s just how her character was written, and she tells him his grandson went thataway. Now, clearly the director recently saw The Presidio, specifically that one scene where that no-neck with anger issues challenged Sean Connery to a barfight, not knowing he was a trained killer, and old guy Connery kicked his ass with just his thumb. I know, let’s do that, but with 1,000 year old Charlton Heston, even though it makes no sense that the fifteen heavily armed soldiers that accompanied the Admiral into this dive joint would ever in a million years let a long-haired ruffian approach their commanding officer and threaten him with bodily harm. But hey, that was really cool how they snuck that half-second insert shot of the stuntman punching that guy in there, it’s almost as if Depends-wearing Heston really did smack that tweaker streetfighter around, I love Hollywood!

Thanks, I like your hillbilly pleather jacket with all the buckles.

Anyway, the kid and Travis are reunited in an IXL prison cell where Travis finally remembers his last name. He then just dies, leaving us to wonder why they made such a big deal about his name and his former rank and all that other backstory stuff just to not have it pay off in the least. I hate it when movies do this, if you’re going to set up something supposedly important, don’t leave us hanging in the end, dudes.

That name means nothing to us.

Because the snotty kid is now the one remaining weak link in IXL’s plans for world domination or something, they then take him immediately out back and put a bullet in his head. Or not. Maybe they take him to a private meeting with the CEO of IXL where he goes all Bond Villain on him and explains his entire vile, wicked plan to corner the market on bottled water and fertilizer. I get that we’re all supposed to be all like “Boo! Hiss!” at evil corporate guy but, as I’ve said before in these types of movies, it’s almost always the case that governments do a lousy job at managing large recovery and rebuilding projects following disasters. Private enterprise does that sort of thing vastly better, especially when unfettered by regulations and given the legal ability to hire murderous hit squads and form private militias. I’m only half joking.

Puttin’ on the Ritz!

Anyway, so then they stand the kid up against the wall and shoot him, like, a lot. Or not? Maybe instead they take the kid out to the Bronson Caverns to that one exact spot where Kirk fought the Gorn and entrust just a single dude to finish him off. Oh my god, Solar Crisis, really? Any movie made after 1966 that still uses that iconic rock formation as anything other than an intentional comedy/parody prop completely loses all respect in my mind. I’ve been to that park before, and there are a dozen other rock formations not a hundred feet from this spot, how hard would it be to not make me blinddrunkangry at you by just panning your cameras 10 degrees to the left?

I not pleased.

And, of course, the buck’o’nine kid with the skinny ankles gets the drop on the guy and kills him, because highly-paid, bleached-hair corporate assassins really are that stupid and incompetent enough to be easily distracted by a rock and let some 13-year old take their gun away and shoot them dead. The Admiral, his grandfather, then shows up and rescues the kid because Awwww….puppies!

Sunglasses of…the future!

The Admiral then goes to IXL’s corporate HQ and starts blowing stuff up, meting out the sort of personal revenge justice that‘s surely way out of his jurisdiction. The CEO attempts to escape in a hoverjet but the Admiral has him shot down without so much as a Miranda stop. Yay, I guess. Nice to know that our military is able to attack American citizen on our own soil without any sort of approval from the civilian leadership, that‘s not a slippery slope to being a Banana Republic at all. Oh, and after an entire movie of showcasing some pretty impressive visual effects, they throw it all away by having the missile used to shoot the bad guy down clearly be a sparkly bottle rocket on a string launched out of a cardboard tube. And…scene!

Seriously, you can see the string.

So there you have it, a fairly passable, if uneven, dystopian sci-fi movie with some nice ideas poorly executed. Not any different than 90% of movies, really, which I guess just goes to show you that making a quality, memorable movie in any genre is a lot harder than it seems. I just wish that my bootleg copy wasn’t so corrupted, perhaps I can find this one online somewhere so I can watch it without all those annoying tape distortions. Maybe it’s on Netflix or something. Oh well, thanks for reading, have a nice day.

Wait wait wait. Kelby just got back into the office a minute ago (who knows what he’s been up to all day) and after I told him how the review was going he informs me that what I thought was the bleed-through over-tape was actually part of Solar Crisis. That’s hard to believe as what I saw of the segments, all based on some space station or something (I fast-forwarded through them all, sorry), they’re all completely different from my desert-bound adventure in every way. The camera work is different, the pacing is different, the sound editing is way different, even the film stock seemed like it came from two different lots, if this was truly meant to be one movie made from two disparate parts, then they failed pretty badly.

Let me mail this VHS tape to my partner Pam across the icy Potomac River and see if she can make any sense of this. Pam, is Kelby right? Is what I thought was the actual movie really just some Second Unit subplot Frankenstein-stitched together in the editing room with what was the primary space-faring story? I really hate it when Kelby is right.

I hate to break it to you, Nate, but it looks as though Kelby’s right for once. The scenes that seem to be leftovers from another movie are actually describing Earth’s attempt to stop the solar flares. Earth has launched a spaceship to do this in what’s supposed to be a multinational effort, but with the exception of a Japanese scientist and an Italian crew member (who has no Italian accent; the actress was born in the United States but does have an Italian name), the entire crew seems to be Americans. Well, what did you expect? We Americans always end up saving the rest of the world, after all.

Um, ok, I‘m afraid to ask what her needs are.

Oh, wait, there is one other foreigner in the crew: a young English scientist named Alex Noffe. Although you can’t tell from the name, this scientist is a young woman who is very good-looking and is distinguished from the rest of the jump-suited crew by her fondness for vintage fashions. Unfortunately her chosen era is circa 1990, what a coincidence, and she spends a fair amount of time in shoulder-padded tops and high-waisted walking shorts. We find out there’s something else a little peculiar about her when she confesses that she was conceived in a test tube and has no idea who her father and mother are. Will this have any significance to the movie? Not really. We’re told she was “bred and trained for enhanced physical and mental capabilities," but, as with most women scientists in the movies, the only thing outstanding about her is her looks. Although her responses vary from scene to scene, and sometimes she acts normal, there are suggestions that Alex can’t feel much in the way of emotions. It appears that Alex is in charge of the scientific part of the mission, but the actual scope of her duties seems to change according to the plot requirements of the moment. Standing around and looking pretty make up the main part, though.

Job well done.

In addition to the beauteous Alex and the two token foreigners, the ship’s crew is composed of Captain Steve Kelso, son of the Admiral and father of the snotty kid; an assortment of hunky and interchangeable redshirts; and a talking bomb that will be fired into the Sun in an effort to change its evil ways. Yes, that’s what I said. The bomb even has a name: Freddy. Freddy isn’t just an explosive Chatty Cathy doll, he’s sentient enough to feel self-pity and to know he has a mission, but not, it seems, enough to be aware that this mission will involve his destruction. Or (ominous chord) does he? However, Freddy will not be going to his doom alone. Somebody will have to pilot the Ra, the small ship that will deliver Freddy into the Sun, and there are only five people among the crew qualified to do this. Captain Kelso, Alex, and Dr. Minami, the token Japanese, are three of them. Who, oh who, will be chosen to make the sacrifice?

“We‘ve analyzed the plans to the Death Star and we‘ve found a weakness…”.

But besides the snotty kid and the fellowship of the talking bomb, we have yet a third group participating in the action: the eee-vil employees of IXL, the company who owns all those robot-operated trucks. IXL is determined at all costs to stop the mission to tame the Sun. They seem to be under the impression that the solar flares won’t be as devastating as the rest of the world thinks, and they’re standing ready to make a profit when things get worse. It’s not clear how the Corporation itself thinks it can be the one entity in the world that’s immune to disaster. Even if they’re right and the Sun doesn’t melt the surface of the Earth into a puddle of goo, won’t they have a hard time getting the resources they need to make whatever it is they think they can sell for such a lot of money? For instance, what about basics such as electricity, will they be able to get all they need? Won’t they have trouble getting their product to market? Those giant trucks run on some kind of fuel, and whatever the fuel is, its price is likely to go up and its availability likely to go down once the Sun gets its licks in. Won’t they have trouble getting enough people to manufacture whatever-it-is? Won’t all of this eat greatly into their profit? Oh, forget it. Let’s just assume they’re stupid as well as evil and get on with the movie.

Why does everyone in “THE FUTURE“ always use such big font?

IXL, it seems, is not content to limit their evil to Earth. They’ve also sneaked an agent aboard the spaceship now on its mission to the Sun, though how they did it I cannot tell you. The agent isn’t dressed like any of the crew, so IXL must have not only produced a cloak of invisibility to enable him to walk around the spaceship undetected, they must also have come up with a way to get him aboard without anybody noticing. But let’s not carp, okay, because in addition to advancing the plot by sneaking up on Alex and using a funky-looking handheld device to take over her mind, the agent was also considerate enough to do this while she was taking a shower, thus providing a good show for the male members of the audience. Naked boobies, guys!

Dude, that‘s not how phone sex works.

It’s worth pointing out that the experience has left Alex so shaky she can barely stand up, and although she makes an appealing picture of a damsel in distress, it’s impossible that nobody notices and makes her have a complete physical. Not even Captain Kelso, who instantaneously developed an interest in her the moment they met. After a “What’s wrong, Alex?” her near-collapse is forgotten. We also don’t see the mysterious IXL agent again, so IXL must have figured out a way to get him off the spaceship without anyone noticing. Maybe I was wrong about them being dumb, maybe they really can figure out a way to make a lot of money when most of the Earth is a cinder.

Loving the banks of random pushbuttons.

However, Alex, and the crew, are somewhat preoccupied. Something bad has gone wrong with their ship. There’s been a coolant leak, and the coolant’s gone into the ionization chamber. They’re vague on why this is so bad, and I kind of get the impression that it’s like filling a balloon with water, and if too much coolant gets into the ionization chamber, the chamber will pop wide open. If you were wondering why somebody can’t just build a giant can opener, punch a hole in the ionization chamber, and let the coolant drain out, it’s because “once the pressure is equalized, the buildup of plasma and coolant will cause an explosion.” Duh. (None of this makes a lick of sense from an engineering standpoint.) Oh, and there’s a radiation leak, and it’s also getting really hot inside the ship, I guess because all the coolant’s in the ionization chamber instead of where it’s supposed to be. Not a good situation.

The model work continues to impress me.

However, it seems that if somebody goes outside to “equalize the pressure,” the resulting explosion will be extremely directional, in that it will kill the person who equalizes the pressure but will not damage the ship in any way. This isn’t explained, by the way; as I said, none of this makes any sense. Captain Kelso gets to pick the lucky crewmember who goes out to do this, and there’s a tense scene while he looks around and nobody meets his eye. Finally, one by one, a few people raise a hand. Captain Kelso makes his choice, the crewman goes out and makes the supreme sacrifice, and the ship is immediately restored to normal. Possibly not Captain Kelso, however. We’ve already been told he’s a Wounded Soul because his wife died. Will this cause further damage to his psyche?

That suit needs more hoses.

It doesn’t appear that it did. It’s Alex who’s falling apart, despite the fact that up until now, she’s mostly been almost robot-like and pretty much indifferent to the rest of the crew, befitting her genesis in a test tube. Now the fallen crewman was her bestest friend in the whole world, and she breaks down weeping and throws herself into Captain Kelso’s arms. Captain Kelso doesn’t seem to see anything odd about her change of heart, and he’s also apparently forgotten that just hours ago she seemed quite unwell. But, as I said, she’s very pretty, and with the exception of the rather homely “Italian” woman, she seems to be the only woman aboard.

Kelso is quite the hottie himself (citation needed).

But we’ll have to wait to see if their relationship goes any farther. It seems that Freddy was put into some sort of small space vessel and was left to guide himself to the large spaceship (why?) Anyway, he’s here now, and he’s guided into the Ra by a spacesuited Dr. Minami, gesturing with a couple of pink batons, just like that guy at the airport guiding jet planes. Alex is there waiting for Freddy, and she’s back in robot mode. Freddy may be nothing more than a talking bomb, but it seems he has ambitions of his own. He whines that nobody takes him seriously, but he has a solution: make him an officer. Dr. Minami duly promises to have him made a lieutenant, while Alex stands by looking indifferent as she tells him that soon it won’t matter. From the expression on Dr. Minami’s face, it looks as though he’s drawn the black ball and will be accompanying Freddy into the bowels of the Sun, although nobody’s bothered to mention this. I have to ask, why did the movie need a talking bomb in the first place? Freddy’s going to be piloted into the Sun by someone else, so it’s not as though the bomb had to be anything more than an inert lump of metal. I think the writers might have been trying for some pathos here, with the innocent creature unknowingly being prepared for a sacrifice, but it just isn’t easy to sympathize with a bomb, especially a whiny self-pitying social-climbing bomb. Did I just write that? I’m still wondering if Freddy’s really as ignorant of his fate as he seems (pretends?), and I’m wondering what sort of procedure the American military of 2050 has in place to give a bomb an officer’s commission. I’d like to see that paperwork.

Seriously, that‘s bigmoney model work right there.

However, the mission is proceeding and the ship is getting closer to the Sun, as we can see from the sweaty undershirt-clad crewmembers. But something else has gone wrong! An oxygen tank has exploded! This blows off a piece of the ship’s hull and floods a section of the ship with dangerous – oxygen? We know the situation is dire because the officers start screaming at their subordinates, and because Captain Kelso hollers, “It’s bad - okay?” at the meek Dr. Minami. There’s quite a bit of meaningless technobabble spoken to describe the damage, but one thing’s clear. The ship has lost so much oxygen that it won’t be able to complete its mission and make it back to Earth.

Oh, just kiss and get it over with.

Captain Kelso and the other officers continue to snap and snarl and swear at everybody, and Alex shows signs she’s beginning to crack. As if things weren’t bad enough already, Dr. Minami finds that Freddy has been programmed by persons unknown to blow up in a few minutes. (I don’t see lieutenant’s stripes on Freddy – maybe he’s programmed himself to blow up because he’s upset at not getting his commission). He tries to cancel the detonation, but the card he needs to insert into Freddy to do this is missing (Alex snitched it). Dr. Minami tries to smash Freddy with a heavy metal bar that just happened to be lying around, but all this does is cause a small blast that kills Dr. Minami. Good thing nobody dropped Freddy when they got him out of his little spaceship. Not only that, but somehow the entire computer system has locked up and won’t accept commands from anybody. Alex is the only one who can help (although there’s been no sign that she’s in any way responsible for the functioning of the main ship) – but where is she? After much bellowing, Alex is located and yelled at until she comes to. Blood is seen leaking out of her right eye, the one the agent beamed his little device into, but no sooner is it seen than it’s forgotten.

Eeek, she needs a better conditioner.

All the screaming has done a little good, because it’s been determined that Freddy has somehow taken over the ship’s computers (which is not a ripoff of 2001. Of course not.) Unfortunately Freddy’s been programmed to respond only to the voices of Dr. Minami and Alex. Dr. Minami, of course, is dead, which leaves only Alex to save the day. The Captain remembers there’s a recorded sample of Alex’ voice, but the computer needs her live voice for verification. I guess it’s smart enough to tell the difference. Although conscious now, Alex is not in good shape, but at literally the next-to-last second, she manages to gasp out “Cancel detonation code.” Now that Freddy’s himself again, Captain Kelso is understandably curious to find out who programmed him to blow up. The whiny little hunk of metal of course rats out Alex. She sobs that somebody took over her mind and made her do it. Captain Kelso is understandably not in the mood for excuses, but his reaction is less than professional. He grabs and shakes her, shoves her away from Freddy, and snarls that if the ship blows up, he’ll have the satisfaction of watching her hair come out by the roots. Yeah, that’ll make everybody feel better.

Violence is (almost) never the answer.

Alex sobs some more and begs to be allowed to pilot the Ra into the Sun to make up for what she’s done. You’ll recall that she, Dr. Minami, Captain Kelso, and two other unnamed crewmembers are the only ones who know how to fly the Ra. Captain Kelso naturally doesn’t think this is a good idea, although I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in the back of his mind the thought’s occurred to him that if she doesn’t do it, he’ll probably have to. Anyway, he lets Alex put her arms around him, which is a bad idea, since she uses her enhanced physical capabilities, of which we’ve seen nothing so far, to knock him out. She runs to the Ra, climbs in, and seals it up before anybody can stop her. There is much cursing from Captain Kelso once he revives, but it looks as though once inside, nobody can get at her. We can only hope Alex has completely broken free of the IXL mind control and isn’t planning to take the Ra away from the Sun instead of into it, also that the not-too-heroic Freddy doesn’t decide to save himself and skedaddle with the Ra.

Budget ran out before they got to the Ra‘s bridge set.

But the movie’s been entirely predictable so far, and nothing changes in the last couple of minutes. Alex dutifully flies the Ra into the correct spot on the sun, Freddy dutifully explodes, and all is well for our fair planet. And the poor Captain is now heartbroken once again, as is the rest of the crew, despite the fact that Alex was never very friendly and nearly killed them all just a few minutes ago. The ship heads straight back to Earth, so it appears they were wrong about not having enough oxygen to make it home. It also appears that Captain Kelso has completely forgotten about his son, since he hasn’t said a word about him since he set foot aboard the spaceship.

His retinas must be burned by all the holograms.

I’m not sure how this turned out to be such a bad movie. It had a big enough budget, $55 million according to Internet sources. Too bad they couldn’t have spared a little of that to get a good script. The movie was handicapped from the start by its less-than-original premise, but good writers could have made something interesting out of it. Instead, it’s just another undistinguished space adventure. Worse, Nate just might have been right when he said it was written by ten different people in ten different rooms. A lot of movies have some problems with continuity, but this one can’t even be consistent with what happened a minute ago. Nate’s already trashed the Earth-bound part of it already, so I won’t say any more about it. There is one good thing about this movie: the special effects are good. Other than that, it’s a waste of time.

Nate, do you have any further opinions you’d like to offer?

Thanks for picking up the slack, Pam, I guess I should have trusted Kelby on this one, despite his reputation for hanging with the wrong crowd. It should be noted that 1990 was a pretty awesome year for science fiction movies. A quick wikipedia shows us that the same year Solar Crisis tanked the world was graced with the likes of Back to the Future III, RoboCop II, Predator II, Hardware, Robot Jox, Circuitry Man, and, chief amongst them, the oft-imitated/never-equaled Total Recall. With all those much better genre sci-fi movies sucking up the Cheetos-stained dollars of genre fans, there might not have been much of an audience for something as poorly produced and forgettable written as Solar Crisis. I still say this movie would have greatly benefited from being split into two separate movies, the constant back-and-forths between settings sucks all the tension and excitement out of both plotlines. All in all a forgettable, but not terribly bad movie, perhaps the greatest of all sins for any film. I hope Kelby didn’t pay too much for this one, I‘m going to have to dock his stipend.

Oh, and I don‘t know who this is or what her name is or what role she plays in our movie, but I totally want to bone her. Like, a lot.

The End.

Written in February 2014 by Nathan Decker and Pam Burda.

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Go ahead, steal anything you want from this page,
that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...