In 2003, C Thomas Howell starred in a risible straight to video erotic thriller called ”Netgames”, about a married guy who gets drawn into a cyber affair. In 2008 he was in ”Mutant Vampire Zombies from The Hood”. And in 2005, he starred in ”War of the Worlds”. Not that ”War of the Worlds” – a cheap, straight to video version that apparently Paramount, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise couldn’t even be bothered suing out of existence.
Look at Howell’s resume and he’s worked more regularly than most Hollywood actors even since he disappeared from popular consciousness after 1986’s ”The Hitcher” and ”Soul Man”, albeit in stuff you’ve never heard of. All props to him, but there’s always something a little sad about a former A list Hollywood movie god reduced to the kind of thing not even the SyFy channel would bankroll.
You might think of former famous heart-throbs like Howell, Dean Cain and Ralph Macchio while you watch Stranded, an exciting enough but completely unoriginal thriller. Christian Slater also had Hollywood in the palm of his hand in the era of ”Heathers” (1988) and ”Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991), but since True Romance (1993), he’s slid down the direct to video/cable slope along with many of his contemporaries.
So it’s a shame Stranded didn’t stand out a little more in the script or premise, because it looks good and has an effective tone.
Slater is the commander of a four-man lunar research base and we launch straight into the action as a meteor storm cripples the station, interrupting communications and other systems and spewing poisonous carbon monoxide into the breathable air.
The race is on to lock down the damaged areas, get in touch with Earth for a rescue and get the hell off the rock. But when scientist Ava (Amy Matysio) brings one of the meteor fragments in for analysis, she cuts her hand on some equipment… and we all know where that’s going.
Before you can say Xtro, Amy has a 24-hour pregnancy and gives birth to a space slug monster thing that runs off and hides in the darkened, dangerous space station. The crew are already tetchy, having been warned that the high levels of poison gas cause hallucinations and paranoia, and now they have to track down a hostile alien life form in all the chaos as well.
With crumbling alliances and fear of each other, the characters are playing a fairly lazy retread of The Thing, and when the creature appears, it’s also a nod to Carpenter’s 1982 classic (albeit less scary as more time passes).
With Slater and his co-stars spouting faux-militaristic/astronautical technobabble that could have been given new life with a few more passes over the script, it makes the whole thing seem much more a straight to video thriller than it needed to be, and the by-numbers plot doesn’t help.
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