Millenium Review

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In the far future, the world is going to hell thanks to pollution and mutations, so time-travellers disguised as air hostesses are being sent back to the mid-to-late 20th century to kidnap people from just-about-to-crash aeroplanes, replace them with corpses to fool the coroners, and zap them to the future to repopulate the wounded earth.


Unfortunately, director Michael Anderson — who should never have been allowed near science fiction again after what he did to Logan’s Run and The Martian Chronicles — and screenwriter John Varley, a sort-of-respected s/f author, throw all this business away and concentrate on a time-twisting romance between air-crash investigator Kris Kristofferson and future-woman Cheryl Ladd, which is only an excuse to rerun a half hour’s worth of screen story that wasn’t very interesting the first time round to stave off a paradox that trips the plot up anyway.

Also involved are genius Daniel J. Travanti, who signals his intelligence by wearing his glasses on a string and is on hand to explain the plot, and Robert Joy as a robot straight out of Blake’s Seven who provides straight lines for Ladd and gets to make a laughable stab at pathos near the end. There are a few big sets and some laughable late 60s-style swirling colour effects to prop up the weedy science fiction angle, and the love story drags on forever, mired down by some of the worst dialogue to come our way in-a long time.

Kristofferson is effortlessly charismatic in a moronic role, his career clearly still hasn’t recovered from Heaven’s Gate, and Ladd is bewildered by the type of I’m-not-from-round-here gags that Kim Basinger flubbed in My Stepmother Is An Alien. Science fiction is supposed to be a literature of ideas, and there are plenty on show here, but it also needs a plot, characters, some humour, coherence, decent effects, dramatic conflicts and a sense of wonder, all of which appear to have been lost in the mists of the past. The average Dr Who episode comes off better.

A sci-fi which might have got off the ground, had it not been for the deadweight romantic sub-plot.