Gravity is out this week, featuring George Clooney’s level-headed space veteran and Sandra Bullock’s nervy first-timer. It all got us thinking: if you were lost in space, there are several cinematic crewmen you might not want to find sharing your space capsule... Here, then, are some astronuts to avoid at all costs.
C*haracters*: Lt. Doolittle (Brian Narelle), Sgt. Pinback (Dan O’Bannon), Boiler (Dre Pahich), Talby (Cal Kuniholm)
Sent space-crazy with boredom thanks to a long mission and a perpetually malfunctioning ship, this bunch of loons has mostly turned to staring at the stars, building bottle organs, trying some laser cannon target practice or smoking a hefty cigar collection to get them through the dull days of interstellar travel. Oh, and they’re also at the mercy of a chatty, very dangerous bomb. Were this lot part of your crew, you’d probably wish for a quick death, like the fuel specialist who walked into a tank to commit suicide rather than serve with them.
Character: Rockhound (Steve Buscemi)
Because NASA decided that training astronauts to operate drill machinery would be a hiding to nothing (eh?), the techs in charge of destroying an approaching Earth-threatening asteroid instead blast a bunch of deep-sea oil drillers into space. Among them is Rockhound, a nervy, crazed type who reacts badly when he finds himself sitting on a hunk of rock hurtling towards the Earth. “We shouldn’t even be up here!” he barks at one point, which actually makes him one of the saner people in Bruce Willis’ crew. You’d probably push him out an airlock at some point for babbling so much, were he not sitting on a nuclear weapon already.
Character: Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen)
Bouffant-coiffed Shatner-alike Nesmith is a preening, washed-up actor re-living his TV glory days at fan conventions for his old show, Galaxy Quest. When he and his bitter cast mates are abducted by a bunch of aliens who think his adventures as Captain Peter Quincy Taggart were real, Nesmith has to step up to become a hero. But oy... What a blowhard. An annoying, cloying, drunken buffoon, we’d hate to have him on our crew, especially when he doesn’t have special alien tech to help out. Never give up? Never surrender? STFU.
Character: Pinbacker (Mark Strong)
Don’t you just hate it when you’re on a second, desperate mission to reignite the sun, and you board the missing ship sent out to try the first time only to discover that the captain is a raving religious loon who purposely scuppered the job? Pinbacker is exactly that pillock. Not only that, but he also hangs around like a fart in an elevator, driven into the depths of insanity by exposure to solar radiation and severe burns. Would you really want this nightmare of a horror character stalking you around your ship, trying to kill you? Thought not.
Character: Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman)
A right old misery guts from the start, Dr. Smith manages to somehow be the most annoying character in a group of extremely irritating space explorers who go roaring off into the cosmos only to get terribly lost. The fools. Not content with boasting about his intellect, Smith is also a double agent, having accepted a bribe from a terrorist organisation to sabotage the mission. Oh, and then he has the temerity to turn into a rubbish spider creature. Solution? A human-sized rolled up newspaper and a quick trip towards the sun.
Character: Terl (John Travolta)
A sneering, superior and insufferable villain, he’s the sort of panto baddie you’d rather see launched into space on the outside of a rocket. With a ridiculous wannabe Rasta-Klingon hairdo and that stupid nose plug thingy, Terl is a fashion disaster and an alien in serious need of some attitude adjustment. Then there’s that time his race enslaved all of humanity and got taken down by a bunch of idiots with a Harrier Jump Jet and some underdeveloped plotting. He’d be better staying at home and entering cosplay competitions than going anywhere with us.
Character: HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain)
Sure, he’s the smoothed-voiced computer we sometimes all wish Siri could grow up to be. But let’s not forget that he’s also a cold, logic driven psychopath who murders several of the crew under his so-called protection because he thinks the humans will interfere with his mission. Not only that, but he’s a right old nosey parker who thinks nothing of reading the survivors’ lips so he can figure out their plan to take him down. Cue one astronaut stranded in space and another on a desperate mission to remove HAL’s memory core. Worst of all, his parting shot is to leave us all with an earworm of a song. If you must take him along, station a giant off switch somewhere close at hand.
Character: Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill)
He starts out as a perfectly pleasant, if slightly haunted, starship designer – and since he’s played by Sam Neill, chances are he might have some decent plonk to share with the crew. But once he gets possessed by the evil demon his ship has become, he’s a right old ‘mare to be around. Literally. Driven to drag everyone on the space vessel Lewis And Clark into “a dimension of pure chaos, pure evil”, Dr. Weir manages to return as a terrifying vision even after being blown out into space. Some people just can’t take a hint.
Character: Snow (Jeremy Davies)
As if it wasn’t bad enough that George Clooney’s Dr. Chris Kelvin is being emotionally tortured by manifestations of his dead wife, he’s then confronted with the news that one of the space station occupants he’s being trying to help, Snow, is himself a replica. Snow reveals that he killed his own original self in... um... self-defence when Snow tried to kill him and... er... there’s something to do with the planet Solaris being sentient and... we got confused. In summary then: Snow? Bad.
Character: Max (Joaquin – then known as Leaf – Phoenix)
Truth be told, compared to some of the other space oddities on this list, Max isn’t too awful. He just has the misfortune of being a wide-eyed kid genius in a 1980s movie. He’s overenthusiastic and manages to send his fellow camp attendees into orbit courtesy of that other annoying bugbear of ‘80s films, the cute robot. Forget helping Max to be brave by calling him Luke Skywalker and encouraging him to use The Force - we’d leave him behind in the classroom and have him write, “I must not be so bloody precocious” on the board 5000 times.