These days, in a world where zombies and vampires and the paranormal rule the fantasy world, it’s very hard to find some good, old fashioned sci-fi. Sciene Fiction has taken a back seat to horror and action that even the most traditional sci-fi premises bare little resemblance to what has come before. In this world where Star Trek is now young and hip and Star Wars is now a product of the House of Mouse, is there anything out there that speaks to a long time sci-fi fan and delivers a film that is reminscent of the ones we saw as kids? Fortunately, there is one…..and it’s surprisingly a comedy.
Space Milkshake is a comedic adventure that’s got its feet firmly planted in the science fiction of yesteryear while still delivering a modern take on the genre. The film stars Robin Dunne, Billy Boyd, Amanda Tapping and Kristen Kreuk in what can only be described as the love child of Alien and Red Dwarf. In the future, one of the biggest problems the Earth must deal with is space waste, debris floating around in space. To deal with this, there are sanitation stations set up around the Earth to take care of the excess garbage and to guide various vessels from bumping into any of it. Odd things begin to happen after a rubber duck hits the outer haul of one of these stations and the four person crew brings the item aboard shortly after all life on Earth dissapears. Turns out, in ain’t just a rubber duck but instead a creature named Gary (voiced by sci-fi icon George Takei) whose travelled through time and space to open a portal to his evil dimension to take over the universe. Needless to say that somebody’s got to stop him and since there’s noboby else around, it has to be these four sanitation workers. But do they have the cajones to do it?
One of the coolest things about Space Milkshake is that while funny, it does a very good job of keeping itself looking and feeling like science fiction. Director Armen Evrensel and crew stick to the elements we know so well with a haunting and suspenseful score, smart looking camera angles that evoke the first Alien film and old school techniques to make this movie feel authentic. When the station gets hit with something, the camera shakes to one side and the actors react. When Gary makes his full appearance as a large alien creature, there’s no CGI. Instead we get a practical effect. It’s a big giant puppet and it’s awesome! What’s great about this film is that the comedy is played straight by its surroundings and the job of coveying the humour is left solely on the actors. And thankfully, the cast delivers.
What’s interesting when you look at this small cast of four (five if you count Takei’s voice) is that with the exception of Boyd, none of them are really known for their comedy chops. Tapping, Dunne and Kreuk are all regulars from the t.v. sci-fi/drama world but they each show some great comedic timing. Dunne is Jimmy, a believable everyman as he tries to guess his way from one problem to the next. He gets some of the best lines, hands down. Tapping is more than convincing as Valentina, a woman who is fed up with her surroundings and yearns for more out of life. Her act outs in frustration are grounded in reality, making them hilarious. Suprisingly, Kristen Kreuk has some of the best comic moments in the film as the android Tilda who gets to play with her character a great deal, at times appearing very mechanical and at others, like a child discovering her surroundings. George Takei also gets some hilarious scenes as the creature/rubber duck. His delivery on some lines is worth watching the film alone. Billy Boyd rounds out the cast as Captain Anton who is your typical pompous commanding officer who’s all bravado and not much brains. The ensemble play off each other very well and commit to the absurdity of the story. This is given an even more interesting layer as each of the characters on their own might be seen as jerks for the most part. But throughout the film, we can’t help but fall for this rag tag group of interglactic garbarge workers.
My only real question with the film is “Why is it called Space Milkshake?” Thankfully, the film’s story, acting and humour rightly distracted me from this query.
After watching this film, I believe that with this cast and production values, Space Milkshake would translate well into a weekly 22 minute sitcom for Sy Fy or Space or Showcase or even Comedy Central. But as it stands, it’s also great as an 87 minute feature. If you are a fan of traditional science fiction, I highly recommend this comedic tribute. It is a whole lot of fun and it is obvious that this film was made by science fiction fans for science fiction fans. The film airs on the Movie Network throughout the rest of February and debuts on Movie Central in March. For more info, check out their website at spacemilkshake.com.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!