Saturn's Lost in Space
There are a small group of movies which I would love to see remade. Now generally I don't like remakes but there are these certain movies which you can see could be good but the finished product isn't. One such movie is "Saturn 3" a sci-fi movie from 1980 which was written by John Barry, familiar to some for his production work on "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope", and it also stars Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett plus Harvey Keitel. Now "Saturn 3" has a simple but good storyline featuring an out of control robot, the actual look is first rate but everything else from the casting to the way characters are portrayed is wrong and it ends up a very bitty movie which feels like it was a movie blighted with problems during production.
On the remote research station Saturn 3 Major Adam (Kirk Douglas - The War Wagon) and his younger assistant and lover Alex (Farrah Fawcett - Logan's Run) lead a peaceful life. That is until they receive a visit from Benson (Harvey Keitel - Taxi Driver) who arrives from Earth with a brand new robot called Hector. Not only does Benson fancy the beautiful Alex but so does Hector who takes on a life of its own and in doing so putting everyone on Saturn 3 at danger.
Watching "Saturn 3" you can quickly pick up various familiar elements, some which have been influenced from earlier movies others which have gone on to influence sci-fi over the following years. But these elements work to create a simple but entertaining story which on one level is about the out of control robot Hector fancying Alex and going on a course of destruction as he tries to remove both Adam and Benson from his path. Yes that does mean we basically have a relentless robot storyline but with the added sexual element makes it a little entertaining.
On the subject of sex we also have a further subplot as we learn that Alex has never been to Earth and really only knows life as Adam's partner. So when Benson arrives he tries to seduce and have his way with Alex and so we have this alpha male situation as we have the young Benson and the older Adam who tries to prove he is as fit as his young competition.
These two story elements are not bad and the visual look of the actual space station whilst a little dated is still quite impressive. Whilst John Barry wrote and initially started the direction, removed by producer Stanley Donen when it became apparent that he couldn't control the cast, you can see Barry's visual influence everywhere. Stuart Craig who more recently has done production design on the Harry Potter movies and is credited with the production design on "Saturn 3" has obviously been in tune with Barry's sci-fi vision and it works. The look is one of the best things about the movie with corridors which in some ways remind me of those in "Alien".
But the thing is that as a whole "Saturn 3" doesn't come together and ends up feeling like two actors competing whilst a third being treated like a blonde bimbo. I am serious because when it comes to Farrah Fawcett as Alex, when she isn't stripping off she is wearing something which highlights her body and looks and her character has nothing clever to say or do, in fact her character is basically a dumb blonde. Then we have Harvey Keitel whose voice was dubbed, Keitel tries to make Benson creepy which he does but it feels like what could possibly have been a good performance is edited down to feel weak. I say that because we have Kirk Douglas as Adam, now I'm a Kirk Douglas fan but the entire movie he seems to be trying to prove that he is still young, handsome and capable of scoring a blonde like Farrah Fawcett. It feels forced and wrong and whilst in 1980 Douglas was still in amazing shape scenes of him skipping or naked wrestling with Keitel are uncomfortable.
What this all boils down to is that somewhere in "Saturn 3" was a good movie but during production it ended up lost and the final movie ended up cheesy and exploitative with its sexual story. As such whilst it is still entertaining it is weak and in need of a remake.