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- Movie Rating: D
- Special Features Rating: A
- Rated: R
- Starring: Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, Roy Dotrice
- Written By: Martin Amis (screenplay), John Barry (story)
- Directed By: Stanley Donen
- Original Year of Release: 1980
- Distributor: Shout! Factory
- Run Time: 88 Minutes
- Special Features: See Below
Saturn 3 Blu-ray Review
Hector go Home
By Robert T. Trate
December 10, 2013
In my days of working at numerous video stores, I always came across the film Saturn 3. After all, how could I not? Just look at the box (below). It has an obvious sci-fi element to it and with that weird robot, it beckons a viewing, right? Well, no one I knew had ever seen the film before. After all, Spartacus himself, Kirk Douglass in a sci-fi movie? Sure, I knew who Farrah Fawcett was (what man doesn’t?). Somehow, it kept getting ignored time and time again. Shout! Factory has resurrected the now Cult Classic Saturn 3 by Stanley Donen (Singing in the Rain) and given it the royal Blu-ray treatment.
In 1980, every studio started cranking out sci-fi pictures because of Star Wars. So comparisons to quality and story are still relevant today. This comparison is no more obvious than the opening shot of the film. A long space craft comes into view and fills the screen. Instantly, you can see where the difference lies. The details are missing, the craftsmanship isn’t there, and it looks like something out of the 1950’s. In fact, through incredibly charming by today’s all-CGI standards, the special effects for 1980 look as if they took three steps back from what George Lucas and even Roger Corman were producing. It is fun to see now, but in 1980, audiences expected better stuff.
The basic plot to Saturn 3 is easily recognizable. A robot technician arrives on a secluded research station around Saturn. The function of this facility is to find a way to feed the Earth through hydroponics. Adam (Douglass) is the lead scientist on the project and his assistant, Alex, (Fawcett) is his only help. The two share a unique bond that goes beyond the laboratory. Benson (Harvey Keitel) arrives to help the scientists with their work by installing a new robot. This new robot has a gigantic brain grown from human cells. The brain itself will learn in days all that it needs to do. The problem arises when Benson starts to program the robot, called Hector, with his mind. It starts to feel and think all the things that Benson does. Did I mention that this man who calls himself Benson murdered the original Benson before he left for Saturn 3 and has the hots for Alex? Yeah, Douglass is, indeed, in over his head.
There are some great issues here that the film is dealing with. Agism being the first. Benson reveals his feelings for Alex and further implies that Adam is obsolete. Adam, feeling the pressures of having both a robot and younger man in his lab, begins to agree. The other issue, which is really dealt with too heavily, is obsession. Benson and Hector both have a strange attraction for Alex to the point where they are willing to do anything, including kill, to have her. A great twist to the plot is bringing the robot element to it, but it never really surfaces in the story. In fact, it is just this critic making the most of a terrible film that should have never seen the light of day. There are numerous plot holes and unanswered questions in Saturn 3. Why did Adam and Alex need the robot to begin with? Was it all a dream because of the blue pill? Why did Benson kill the original Benson? Why not sync up Adam’s brain to Hector? After all, wasn’t he the expert? If you are fan of killer robot movies, this one may be fun for all of about 20 minutes. Otherwise you’re better off watching Terminator for the millionth time.
New High Definition Transfer
Commentary by Greg Moss (Saturn 3 Fan site) and film critic David Bradley
Interviews with Academy Award winning Special Effects artist Colin Chilvers and actor Roy Dotrice
Additional scenes from the network television version
The special features have two interesting and noteworthy editions to the Blu-ray. The first being an interview with Roy Dotrice, who dubbed Harvey Keitel. No reason was ever divulged as to why Keitel was dubbed, but Dotrice supplied him with an English accent. Fans of Keitel will instantly notice the difference. Dotrice’s interview is interesting and he comments that Saturn 3 never affected his career. It didn’t even affect his lunch break the day he recorded it.
The next special feature worth watching is the deleted ecstasy scene. There is a moment when Alex wants to try one of the blue pills for a fun trip. Adam agrees and they split the blue pill together. Now, in the course of the film, we are left wondering whether or not the rest of the film was a dream. It’s not. Now we can see the deleted sequence where the two of them get a little crazy. Fans of both Fawcett and Barbarella will appreciate her “coming out to Earth” outfit.
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