Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Soldier (1998)

People often talk about movies that they like but know they shouldn't as 'Guilty Pleasures', well Paul Anderson's 1998 SF Action movie Soldier is one of mine. Not a brilliant movie by any stretch of the imagination, but there's something about it that makes it a very watchable 99 minutes.

Plot synopsis
Kurt Russell plays Todd, raised from an infant to be a soldier, his training along with the other soldiers includes being desensitized to violence. After many campaigns Todd and his men are replaced by genetically-engineered soldiers. During a fight with one of these new troops, Todd is knocked unconscious and thought to be dead. Along with the bodies of 2 of his men he's dumped with scrap on the Planet of Arcadia 234. Here Todd finds human colonists who have become stranded. Todd has to learn to adapt to live within their community. When the genetically-engineered soldiers are sent to Arcadia for a training exercise and find the planet has inhabitants they are ordered to clear the planet, Todd takes it upon himself to help protect the colonists.

The screenplay for Soldier was written by David Peoples, who co-wrote the script for Blade Runner. Peoples has said that he seen Soldier as almost a spin-off from Blade Runner in some ways, and it does make reference to the battles of Tannhauser Gate and Shoulder of Orion, the wreckage of a Blade Runner spinner can also be seen on the moon of Arcadia amongst the junk piles.
Kurt Russell who plays Todd is on the screen most of the time even though he only speaks 104 words in the whole movie.
Gary Busey chews up scenery by the shed load with his performance as Church, the commander of the original squad of soldiers that Mekum's (Jason Isaacs) troops replace !
The rest of the main cast are made up by Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) and Jason Scott Lee.
Soldier was a huge flop on release taking only $15 million worldwide for it's $75 million budget, the film went straight to video here in the UK, making it the biggest budget film ever to do so.
The dead astronaut and space battle seen in the trailer aren't in the movie, and there are reports they were done just for the trailer.
Anyway I think it's a fun movie even if it was directed by Paul Anderson (Aliens vs Predator)


paulhd said...

Ha, Soldier is a guilty pleasure of mine too. Still think there's a great film there with a better director - Anderson's remake of Death Race looks pretty dire... sob, and I love the original.

allen said...

I really enjoyed this when it came out on DVD. I too noticed the Blade Runner references and spotted the spinner. Unfortunately the buddy of mine I was watching the movie with had never seen Blade Runner...sigh.

Matt Scheuerman said...

I really enjoyed Soldier as well. It's well worth watching for at least the space ships and the matte paintings led by Craig Barron and Brett Northcutt. I think that alot of the color and lighting of the film is a product of its time but is easy to overlook, especially since we get to see Kurt Russell if face paint ala "Commando" style. Every "special forces operative" should paint their faces like that in movies :D

Inchy said...

I quite enjoyed 'Soldier' even though it quite clearly stretched the acting talents of Kurt Russell almost to breaking point.

I wouldn't really say that any of my favourite films are guilty pleasures, rather they are films I'll champion, even in the face of overwhelming critical disdain.
Here are just a few:

Buckaroo Banzai
Saturn 3
The Inseminoid

They all float my sci-fi boat, and I see a little genius in each of them.

Ok, I lied about The Inseminoid.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

I like those films you mention there but I'm not a huge fan of Inseminoid, I'm sure I read they were re-making that one though !

Inchy said...

I'd buy that for a dollar!

allen said...

I agree with Dune and Buckaroo Banzai
but seeing Kirk Douglas' butt ruined Saturn 3 for me...what is The Inseminoid?

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Inseminoid is a low budget 1981 SF Horror that cashed in on Alien's success

Plot Synopsis off Wiki

A team of scientists are working on a distant planet. One of them, Sandy (played by Judy Geeson), is investigating an underground network of caverns when she is attacked and impregnated by a huge, unknown creature. Seeking to protect her unborn twins, she turns on the other members of the team, killing them and drinking their blood. The scientists, who were on a routine mission, now have to fight for their lives.

Inchy said...

Trust me, it's pretty awful.
Think Hammer House Of Horror in space.

TimeWarden said...

By "Hammer House of Horror", do you mean the TV series or the series of films the studio made between 1958 and 1975 affectionately known as Hammer Horror. The TV series wasn't that good, it's true, but many of the films are excellent defying their low budgets and much better than most the crap that comes out of America.

"Inseminoid" is more like one of the poorer Tom Baker "Doctor Who" adventures but anything with Judy Geeson is always worth watching. Don't know the film "Soldier" but it looks and sounds as though it's worth investigating. Thanks for the tip, Andrew!

Dylan said...

I love Dune, one of my faves. I've never managed to sit through the extended cut tho it seemed pretty awful and you could see why Lynch had is name taken of it.

I. N. J. Culbard said...

"Think Hammer House Of Horror in space."

Careful now - tag line like that makes it sound awesome.

Inchy said...

You only have to look at adverts for 'WALL.E' with the tag line:

"In space no one can hear you clean"

to see how good the original 'Alien' one was.

Michael G Clark said...

Soldier is pretty brutal in parts, liked Kurt in it but the film is really hit and miss.

I bet Russel's saw some C beams glitter in his time

Matt J said...

Ooh-painful to watch that cheesy trailer. I'll admit I find Danny Cannon's JUDGE DREDD quite watchable, especially the ABC robot & Cunningham's Mean Machine-it was just ruined by Rob whatisname. . .

Inchy said...

I grew up with Joe Dredd, not literally you understand, but what really pissed me off about the movie 'Judge Dredd' was that these kind of movies only really get one shot, one chance. The concept of Mega City 1 and the Judges was a great one, just poorly realised. Sadly the exploits of Joe Dredd and the Judges is now cast on the Hollywood pile labeled 'Been Done'.

I'd love someone to have a proper go at either 'Rogue Trooper' or 'The A.B.C. Warriors'.