Space Station 76 is a neat little movie asking the question “What if the future really did look like people thought it would in 1976?” The result is a space station full of retro tech, tacky wallpaper, and really tight jeans. Omega 76 is nominally a military facility but before you get too excited, this isn’t exactly the Starship Enterprise here. Omega 76 is an out-of-the-way refueling station with the feeling of a very lax army base. In this glorified gas station, a staff of mechanics and manual laborers are overseen by officers who genuinely do not give a shit, and their gaggle of alcoholic army wives. If you want your promotion you put in two years in Omega Station and hopefully move on to bigger and better things. If not, you just sort of stick around…forever. For a long time the crew of Station 76 has been locked in a perpetual orbit of quiet suburban misery until in comes Lieutenant Jessica Marlowe (Liv Tyler). While the unseen threat of asteroids looms in the distance, the sweet, beautiful, obviously over-qualified Jessica transfers to Omega Station and unwittingly knocks the lid off a boiling pot of melodrama. Right off the bat there is macho man Captain Glenn Terry (Patrick Wilson), an officer who’s deep in the closet and still reeling from his separation with Jessica’s predecessor Daniel. Having long since stopped caring about his job, things only get worse when Jessica comes aboard; her skill and professionalism casting him in sharp relief. Jessica does manage to hit it off with the ship’s resident cute kid, Sunshine (Kylie Rogers), and her attractive father Ted (Matt Bomer). Unfortunately true love is not in the cards because, guess what? Mr. Right’s already married. Over-medicated and emotionally unstable, Misty (Marisa Coughlan) senses love in the air and sets out to put a stop to Jessica’s budding relationship with both Ted and Sunshine. Space Station 76 is something between sci-fi melodrama and dark romantic comedy, using cool retro sets and science babble to spice up a story that otherwise centers completely around the lives of the people on the station. Because of this, the ability to get invested in the story is basically rooted in one of two things. 1) Your desire to see the main couple Ted and Jessica get together. 2) Your emotional attachment to the various side characters. I’d say this is where the movie loses me. Yes, Ted and Jessica are very likable characters. In fact poor, beautiful, over qualified, underappreciated Jessica is very sympathetic as she quietly endures bombardment from all sides about her lack of “proper” femininity. The hypocrisy here is painfully obvious as Jessica is the only woman on the ship to display any real kind of maternal instinct towards Sunshine, whose mother Misty abandons her to wander the halls while she sun tans, pops Valium, and cheats on her husband. Meanwhile poor, beautiful, underappreciated Ted is the perfect Dad. We can see this because he loves his daughter and doesn’t cheat on his wife like the only other married male in the movie. So Ted is pretty much without flaw except for a malfunctioning robot hand and the fact that he was apparently stupid enough to think marrying Misty was a good idea. Also, he sometimes slips into a hallucinatory state in which he is visited by a glowing, naked imaginary porn star known as the “Space Angel.” This happens twice throughout the course of the film and goes completely unexplained. Space Angel aside, it’s all very Romantic Comedy 101 in which the relationship between two characters is sold to us as “true love” not because of any real connection or chemistry but because they are literally the only sane people on the entire station so we’re like,” obviously they should be together!” The result is a story where our “heroes” have no real goals and take no actions to achieve them. They are relegated to ineffectual longing while the neurotic, self-obsessed antagonists run around making the plot move. In a rambling series of events, we are treated to a space age gynecology exam, affairs, emotional manipulation, failed suicide attempts, and a scene where Captain Glenn furiously jacks off to a recording of his estranged ex-boyfriend. Events don’t reach a head until the last thirty minutes of the film when all that boiling melodrama explodes in the middle of a Christmas party. But just before the film reaches a satisfying climax, the much foreshadowed asteroid swoops in. Nearly missing the station our cast of assholes is confronted with the frailty of life and then simply wanders away from each other to silently resolve all of their personal issues over the course of a five minute montage. And our heroes? They get together in the end, having learned nothing, sacrificed nothing and grown not at all over the course of 90 minutes. End of film. Roll credits. Despite the grumbling above, Space Station 76 isn’t all that bad. It is very well-acted and the script is funny enough to keep the movie going but subtle enough to avoid any real groaners. It’s a little too dark and uncomfortable to be a comedy and a little too simplistic to really be deep but overall it’s an enjoyable movie and I’m willing to chalk up any pacing or structural issues to the fact that the screenplay was apparently written by five different people. Also the film features Doctor Bot, who could very well be the greatest character in all of cinema. Doctor Bot is a small toy robot who dispenses psychiatric advice to the ship’s residents. He only gets a few scenes but they are absolutely golden! Seriously, you should all watch Space Station 76 right now if only for Doctor Bot. That or just wait awhile for someone to put up a compilation on YouTube. I’m just kidding — support the official release! See larger image Space Station 76 New From: $7.84 USD In Stock Space Station 76 (2014)3.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.