Saga of a Crew (1984-2006) – By Duane L. Martin

 Director Daniel R. Christopher back in 1984 started a movie called Saga of a Crew. Unfortunately, it was one of those projects that just sort of stalled out and laid around unfinished for over twenty years. (Christ, has it been that long since the 80’s???)

Cut to, now. Christopher decided it was time to finished his, up to now, unfinished work, and to this end he shot new footage, inserted it into the old film, and produced what he could finally consider a finished piece.

So what’s it about? Well, to be honest, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. There’s a reason for that, which I’ll get to in a minute. Generally however, the movie is about some fleet of space ships that’s travelling to somewhere. I have no idea where, nor does it seem to matter all that much. Apparently one of them blew up along the way and they lost a bunch of fuel and some mineral or something they needed desperately if they were to complete their journey. Three guys take off in two ships and go down to a near by planet in search of some of the mineral they need, but on the way down through the atmosphere, they develop problems and crash.

Ok, that’s the general bit of it. So why don’t I know what was going on in something I just watched? Mostly it’s because the sound was utterly horrible in about 80% of the old footage, and between the music and the background sounds, I couldn’t understand what the hell anyone was saying. The parts where I could figure out what they were saying almost made me wish I couldn’t. For example, on the way to the planet, two guys have a discussion about the tasty tomatoes they brought with them to eat, and we get to watch them each eat one. This was a prolonged, pointless and disjointed scene that was really making me reach for the remote so I could fast forward through it.

The parts of the movie where I could understand what people were saying made me wish I couldn’t. Apparently most of the people in space are from Long Island, because several people in the film sounded like the Snapple Lady. There was one guy though, and he was just a side character thank god, but… Well let’s put it this way. Actors should be able to bring about emotions in their audience. The only emotions this guy brought out were boredom and drowsiness, because that looked like what he was feeling himself. Plus, he had some kind of a British accent and talked like he had a mouth full of marbles. I really have no clue what the hell he said, even after having had all this time after the fact to think about it.

The set design in the film was something else. The space ship interiors were basically like old keyboards and styrofoam pieces duct taped together to create a cockpit. At one point, the styrofoam on the back of the pilots chair even came apart while they were going through the planet’s atmosphere. The interior of the mother ship where the movie starts out was done better than the interiors of the space ships, but even then only on the surface. There were a few overly hokey things about those sets as well.

So basically what I’m saying is, the movie is just unwatchable. However…

I do want to commend Mr. Christopher on a couple things that did come out good in the film though, because he does deserve credit for the good as well as the bad.

The main thing that was nice is that he used nice models for the space ships, and did a nice job with the scenes where he showed them flying through space. While somewhat Dr. Who-ish, the shots all came out looking pretty darn good. There were also some full sized space ships that people could actually climb into that, although they looked like they’d fall apart if you breathed on them too hard, actually did look pretty cool, and I have to applaud the effort that went into creating them.

The other nice thing I wanted to mention was the little alien creature on the planet. While it was kind of lame and hokey looking, he did take the time to put together a pretty nice stop motion scene of it huddling in for the night with a few of its babies. While the scene really didn’t add anything to the film other than something interesting to look at for a minute or two, it was cool that he took the time to do it, and he really did do a pretty good job with the animation.

So that’s it. I hate giving movies bad reviews and I do try to be positive about whatever I can be, even in the worst of films. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say that this particular film just left me bored, confused, unable to focus on anything that was being said and utterly joyful when it was finally over. While I do applaud Mr. Christopher’s dedication in finishing what he started, I’m thinking that in this case, it might have just been better to leave it unfinished. I believe his film making itch would have been better scratched by focusing his energies on an entirely new film. Hopefully, he’ll do that at some point in the near future.

If you’d like to find out more about this film you can check out its website at http://www.sagaofacrew.com.