Today’s feature is an ambitious remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, with a science fiction twist: 1993’s Lifepod.
Lifepod was directed by the well-regarded character actor Ron Silver, who is best known for movies like Timecop and The West Wing. However, it was his only directorial feature over his career.
The screenplay adaptation for Lifepod is credited to producers Jay Roach and Pen Densham, who each have a handful of television writing credits for shows like Space Rangers and Poltergeist: The Legacy.
The cast for Lifepod includes director Ron Silver, Robert Loggia (Over The Top, Scarface), and C.C.H. Pounder (Face/Off, RoboCop 3), among others.
The score composition for the movie was done by Mark Mancina, who was in a bit of a transitional period at the time. Before Lifepod, his credits included primary low-budget fare like Space Mutiny. Following Lifepod, however, he got the chance to dictate the music on some much larger productions, such as Speed, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Bad Boys, Twister, Con Air, Tarzan, and Training Day.
Alan Baumgartner served as the film’s primary editor, whose credits since include comedies like Zombieland, Meet The Fockers, and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, as well as more recently acclaimed movies like American Hustle, Trumbo, and Joy.
Lifepod was made specifically for television broadcast, and was first debuted on June 28, 1993 on Fox. It currently holds an IMDb user rating of 5.9/10, which, while far from stellar, could certainly be much worse.
The plot of Lifepod is summarized on IMDb as follows:
Remaking a Hitchcock movie well is a difficult task to say the least: some could argue that even Hitchcock himself wasn’t very good at it (I personally prefer the first Man Who Knew Too Much). So, when I first heard about the oddity that is Lifepod, I knew I had to check it out. Shifting the setting and genre for a remake can yield interesting results, and distance the remake enough from the original that it isn’t judged as harshly as it could be. On top of that, these kinds of shifts can allow the writers and director a little more creativity with the material.
In the case of Lifepod, I think that this source material is uniquely suited to this particular re-imagining. The similarities of being lost at sea and being adrift in space are notable, and the interpersonal tensions intrinsic to the story are universal in such a way that the temporal setting doesn’t impact their potency: betrayal is just as shocking and painful in the 30th century as in the 20th.
Lifepod isn’t a masterpiece by any means. Not only are there some mediocre effects and performances, but the pacing isn’t great, and the music doesn’t do a very good job of building the necessary tension to make the story really punch. That said, there are enough compelling moments to make this movie worth watching, beyond its gimmicky value as a Hitchcock remake in space. Silver in particular gives a memorable performance, and the cast (for the most part) play pretty well off of each other. The set design is also pretty decent, though I wish the pod had more of a claustrophobic feel to it: it is hard to tell just how big it is throughout the movie. In general, however, this is definitely a stand-out as far as television movies go.