MOVIE: Black Horizon (2001)

I was just down visiting my parents again for the long holiday weekend (a 4-day one for me, as I took Friday off too — woot!), so, as usual, I’ll be putting up about 86 bazillion new movie reviews over the next few days. Lucky for you guys, we had a hard time finding many bad sci-fi flicks to rent this time, as there just weren’t many on the New Releases shelf. So, I’ve only got two total stinkers to tell you about — the rest of the movies we saw were all pretty good! It’s a miracle!

This movie is one of the two dogs, in case you hadn’t figured that out by looking at the cover art, and it was also the first one we watched because we suspected it would be the worst one of the pile. Annnnnnnd we were right. This movie is not only really bad, but it also features some fairly astonishing stupidity. For a science-fiction movie, it’s pretty ridiculously lacking in actual science. Or even any effort at attempting actual science.

The story is about a group of astronauts on a space station, a couple of whom are working on a device that will somehow be able to harness energy from the sun (they call it the Prometheus device — which looked an awful lot like the Doomsday Device from The Pink Panther Strikes Again, incidentally). The device isn’t working, though, and the company that funded it has decided the only way out of bankruptcy is to somehow destroy the device before their investors find out it was a flop. So, unbeknownst to the astronauts, they manage to sabotage the station’s guidance system from Earth. No guidance system means no orbit, which means in a few hours, the entire station will come crashing down and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A shuttle with a rescue team on board is dispatched from NASA, but by the time they reach the station, their own ship has been irreparably damaged and they, too, become stranded on the failing space station. The only way anybody will be able to survive is if they can get a few escape shuttles from the Apollo era to work — but, again unbeknownst to them, the evil corporation has also changed the launch codes for the shuttles, foiling their plans anew.

On the ground, a savvy NSA agent (Ice-T) has become suspicious of the evil corporation after discovering it appears to be in cahoots with the Russians. Will Ice-T be able to figure out what’s going on and get the launch codes to the space station before everybody on board is burned to oblivion? Or will he be overcome by the urge to bust out in some of his Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo moves at a critical moment and blow his cover?

The answers to these two questions, respectively, are: “yes,” and “no, more’s the pity.”

In terms of plot, I’ve definitely seen a lot worse, though I do have to wonder what in the hell Ice-T was doing in this movie, since it’s not like he doesn’t have a solid day job (in addition to his stellar performances in both Breakin’ movies, Ice-T is also one of the stars of Law & Order: SVU). Unfortunately, the things that were ridiculous in this movie weren’t really ridiculous in an entertaining way, so much as in a “Seriously? How dumb ARE you people?” kind of way.

Primary case in point: both the space station AND the shuttle had gravity. Um, guys? That’s not how space works! Had there been even the lamest attempt to explain this away (heck, I would’ve settled for “we’ve got magnets in our boots” — I ain’t picky!), it would’ve been something we could overlook. While we can’t help but notice errors of this nature, we’re pretty forgiving as long as some effort is made in regards to the science. But it was pretty clear there was gravity only because the writer didn’t know any better, and we really, really hate it when that happens.

Additionally, here we are in what was supposed to be modern-day times (2001, at the latest), and the computers on the space station all use floppies? And when they’re desperately trying to download all the data off the computers before the space station bursts into flames, nobody thinks about just pulling out the hard drive and calling it a day? Man, whatever. They weren’t even trying with this one, my friends.

In other, more terse words: skip it. You have more entertaining things to do. Like your taxes.

[Not available in Netflix | Don’t buy me!]

Genre: Science Fiction
Cast: Ice-T, Michael Dudikoff, Hannes Jaenicke, Alex Veadov

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