Friday, January 8, 2021

Beyond the Rising Moon

Beyond the Rising Moon (aka Outerworld aka Star Quest: Beyond the Rising Moon)
Philip J. Cook

Beyond the Rising Moon was a charming surprise. When I originally selected it, due to the date it was released and the fact it looked like it was a small direct to video feature. I expected something akin to the numerous Alien (1986) rip-offs that were very popular around this time. I was delighted to find a more cyberpunk film that was filled with ambitious miniature and model effects. Beyond the Rising Moon borrows actually ends up borrowing from Star Wars (1977)  more than Alien. There are plenty of shortcomings but there is also so much love and effort put into the production that it is easier to overlook these things. 

The writing is perhaps the weakest element of the entire movie. The first act of the film contains endless amounts of expository dialog all of which add up to very little. We learn of a corporate created cyborg assassin and her companion as they race against that same corporation to locate and claim a spacecraft created by an ancient alien race. Nothing explained is especially relevant to the story. It gives the characters some minimal motivation, but it comes across as workmanlike at best.

Waiting around for the plot to happen.

The acting is stiff and awkward, but this feels more like a combination of amateur acting and the less than perfect writing, than the actors being bad. The dialogue is stiff in a way that harkens back to SF films of the 1950s. If you are in a generous mood you can pretend that is a deliberate choice.

The special effects on the other hand a quite good and once I found out that the film was made for around $8000, they are downright stupendous. The models and cities go a long to building an interesting future world. The spaceship designs are cool and sleek. The space dogfights are exciting and dynamic in ways I did not expect from a small film like this. When you are used to seeing the same 6 effects shots from Corman films from this era, seeing a bunch of lovingly filmed sequences is refreshing. This is still an obviously amateur effort but that makes it even more impressive at times.

Space Hotel (Spotel)

During the home video boom, it was easy to find clone after clone of big-budget films looking to grab the interest of people. The best of them approach their subject in a unique way or push their content into places that a large studio would never dare to do.  Beyond the Rising Moon takes what could have been a typical Star Wars clone and breathes life into it with a lot of enthusiasm and love. It cloaks the film with a charm that might otherwise be absent in a more mercenary production.

Check out Beyond the Rising Moon, but make sure you track down the original version on YouTube. At some point, the SFX sequences were redone with CGI for the SyFy Channel. Much like the Star Wars Special Editions they look terrible, out of place, and diminish the film.

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