Tag Archives: spacecamp

Space Warriors

Space Warriors


Today’s feature is the pseudo-remake of the 1986 flop, SpaceCamp: 2013’s Space Warriors.

Space Warriors was directed, produced, and co-written by Sean McNamara (Bratz: The Movie, 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain), with co-writers Jim Strain (Jumanji), Stan Chervin (Moneyball), and Ronald Bass (Rain Man, What Dreams May Come, Entrapment).

The cinematographer for Space Warriors was Robert Hayes, who shot two of the lesser sequels to Baby Geniuses: Baby Geniuses and The Space Baby and Baby Geniuses and The Mystery of the Crown Jewels.

The editor on the film was Jeff Canavan, who has worked on features like Bratz, Save The Last Dance, Lawnmower Man 2, Homeward Bound II, Star Trek: Insurrection, Garfield, and The Shawshank Redemption.

The musical score for Space Warriors was composed by Larry Brown, who provided music for the infamous Joe Don Baker movie Mitchell and the television series The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest.

The visual effects team for Space Warriors included Evan Ricks (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), Josh Prikryl (Babylon 5), David Liu (The Midnight Meat Train), Laurel Klick (From Dusk Till Dawn 3, From Dusk Till Dawn 2, Mortal Kombat), Ryan Spike Dauner (Red Planet), and Des Carey (The Stepford Wives, The Legend of Hercules).

The cast of Space Warriors includes Danny Glover (Saw, Predator 2, Lethal Weapon), Mira Sorvino (Mimic, Quiz Show, Reservation Road), Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns, Zodiac, Copycat), Ryan Simpkins (Twixt, A Single Man, Revolutionary Road), Thomas Horn (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), Josh Lucas (Stealth, American Psycho, Poseidon), and Grayson Russell (Talladega Nights, Diary of A Wimpy Kid).

spacewarriors2The plot of Space Warriors is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A group of kid space cadets must help in the rescue of three astronauts whose ship got stranded in space.

Space Warriors was filmed at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, which is home to the original location of Space Camp, and was also the primary filming location for 1986’s SpaceCamp.

Space Warriors currently has a 4.4 user rating on IMDb, along with a 34% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

It is impossible not to compare Space Warriors to 1986’s SpaceCamp: though it isn’t technically an official sequel or remake, there are undeniable similarities between the two features. The biggest changes for Space Warriors are all actually pretty sensible: the child actors are all the same age, instead of a mix of teenagers and children, they aren’t shot into space, and the hyper-intelligent robot sidekick plot is totally nixed. Unfortunately, the lack of any of these peculiar elements of the first movie leads to a far less charming end product. The fact of the matter is, real Space Camp isn’t all that flashy or glorious, and that is (at least partially) reflected in this movie.

The other big drawback for Space Warriors is that the primary cast is made up of a lot of children, which is a recipe for disaster. Child actors with any modicum of talent are rare, and the odds of finding multiple ones for the same production are astronomical. Even Joaquin Phoenix, who grew into a fine actor with age, was not particularly good in SpaceCamp. In Space Warriors, the child actors are awful. Just awful. Even worse, all of the action of the movie surrounds them. At least in SpaceCamp, Tom Skerritt and Kate Capshaw offered some slight respite from the childish shenanigans of Max & Jinx. No such luck is to be had in Space Warriors: it is (with little exception) all kids, all the time.

One of my favorite things about Space Warriors is the recruitment montage at the beginning, which features Josh Lucas wandering around the world with an inflatable astronaut companion, hunting down brilliant children to bring them to Space Camp. Honestly, I would watch an entire movie that focuses just on the road trip shenanigans of Josh Lucas and his inflatable astronaut buddy. That would undoubtedly be more interesting than Space Warriors if you ask me.

width="300"I mentioned in my review of 12 Rounds that the movie comes off like a tourism advertisement for the city of New Orleans. Likewise, Space Warriors is packed with shots of both the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Huntsville, AL. It might not be excessively noticeable for someone not from the area, but for me, the constant shoehorning feels downright oppressive. Likewise, Space Warriors gives off the slightest whiff of desperation: there was clearly an intention¬† here to re-inspire a rising generation to care more about exploration and space travel, in an era where the interest seems to be at an all-time low. However, I don’t think Space Warriors is going to ignite any flames of inspiration like The Martian or Interstellar, given it is pretty much a pile of garbage. Then again, I’m not ten years old. Maybe kids love this shit.

Space Warriors isn’t a movie that was aimed for general audiences like SpaceCamp was: it is unapologetically a kids movie. As is the seeming standard for children’s entertainment, the humor is low-brow, the acting is bad, and the whole thing looks and sounds like garbage to anyone who is older than 12. However, I have trouble blaming that entirely on the movie, as much as it is a plague of the genre in general.

I’ve never understood why children’s entertainment isn’t held to a higher standard: it seems like there is essential no quality test for anything in the genre. Children’s movies should be aimed to inspire and educate while also entertaining, like Wishbone. It doesn’t need to be a compilation of loud noises, farts, and pratfalls like The Garbage Pail Kids: that’s actually the worst possible thing that we as a society could be forcing children to consume. That how you wind up with a generation of Adam Sandler fans if you ask me. To Space Warriors‘s credit, its heart is certainly in the right place in this regard, in spite of some lapses here and there. I don’t want to be excessively hard on it, but I’m also certainly not going to recommend it to anyone. Unless you are a big fan of SpaceCamp and are curious about this re-imagining, then skip it.




Today’s feature is the most famous bad movie to come out of my home town of Huntsville, AL: 1986’s SpaceCamp.

The credited writers for SpaceCamp include producer Patrick Bailey, Larry B. Williams (Friday’s Curse), Clifford Green (The Seventh Sign, Bless The Child), and someone named Casey T. Mitchell, who has very few other credits.

SpaceCamp was directed by Harry Winer, whose credits include a handful of Veronica Mars episodes, a documentary called The Legend of Bigfoot, and House Arrest.

The cinematographer for the film was William A. Fraker, who has shot such movies as The Island of Doctor Moreau, Street Fighter, 1941, The Exorcist II, Rosemary’s Baby, Bullitt, and Gator.

SpaceCamp had two credited editors: John Wheeler (Rocky IV, Star Trek: First Contact, Rhinestone) and Tim Board (Ladybugs).

The music for SpaceCamp was provided by the one and only John Williams, who is perhaps the most recognizable film scorer in the history of the medium. On top of his astounding five Academy Award wins, he has countless Academy Award nominations spanning from 1968 to 2014.

The special and makeup effects team for SpaceCamp was made up of Zoltan Elek (Timecop, Double Team, Street Fighter, Leviathan), Katalin Elek (Double Team, Rocky V, Legend, Leviathan), and Chuck Gaspar (Waterworld, Mitchell, The Exorcist II).

spacecamp8The visual effects work for the movie was provided by a massive team that included Tom Anderson (Dune, Philadelphia Experiment II), Jeff Burks (Trick or Treat, The Abyss), Charles L. Finance (Battlefield Earth, Leviathan, Dune), Jammie Friday (Robot Jox, Apollo 13), Rocky Gehr (Face/Off, Over The Top, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Jingle All The Way), Robert L. Johnston (1941, Die Hard), David S. Williams Jr. (Leviathan), Christopher Nibley (Predator 2), Mark Stetson (Leonard Part 6, On Deadly Ground), Richard Malzahn (Trick or Treat, Leviathan, Suburban Commando), Peter Montgomery (Mortal Kombat), Barry Nolan (Leviathan, Maximum Overdrive), and Doyle Smiley (DeepStar Six),

The cast of SpaceCamp includes Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom), Tom Skerritt (Alien, Top Gun, Poison Ivy), Terry O’Quinn (Lost, Primal Fear, Tombstone), Lea Thompson (Howard the Duck, Back To The Future, Jaws 3-D, Left Behind), Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire), Larry B. Scott (Iron Eagle), and Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, 8MM, Inherent Vice, The Master, Walk The Line, Her), credited under his childhood name of “Leaf.”

SPACECAMP, Tom Skerritt, Kate Capshaw, Tate Donovan, Lea Thompson, Joaquin Phoenix, Kelly Preston, Larry B. Scott, 1986, TM and Copyright (c)20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.The plot of SpaceCamp is summarized on IMDb as follows:

The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger tragically broke apart barely a minute into its flight, killing the entire crew aboard. At the time, SpaceCamp, which prominently features the looming threat of a shuttle disaster, was scheduled to release within weeks. Wisely, the studio chose to delay the film’s release to the summer, but it flopped at the box office none-the-less.

In early drafts of the story, SpaceCamp was to have a Rocky IV-style ending, in which a Russian shuttle (piloted by children) is dispatched to rescue the American kids stranded in space, signifying a new, post-Cold War era of peace and harmony.

spacecamp2SpaceCamp was the feature film debut of Joaquin Phoenix, whose older brother, River, broke out due to his role in Stand By Me, which also released in 1986. Joaquin is credited under the name “Leaf,” which he took on early in his childhood, but shed in his teens.

The budget for SpaceCamp has been estimated to have been between 18 and 25 million dollars, on which it only took in less than 10 million dollars on its lifetime theatrical run. The reception to the film was less than glowing: it currently holds an IMDb user rating of 5.6, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 40% from critics and 50% from audiences. In spite of the poor returns and reviews, SpaceCamp received a spiritual remake in 2013 in the form of Space Warriors.

The Huntsville, AL location of Space Camp (The US Space and Rocket Center) that features in the film doesn’t have an actual space shuttle or a launch pad: it only has a mock up (Pathfinder) that was used for basic testing purposes. Even then, it wasn’t on display at the Space and Rocket Center until 1988: two years after this movie’s release. This makes the entire premise of the plot of SpaceCamp even more impossible that it was to start with.

spacecamp7Obviously, the plot of SpaceCamp is beyond preposterous. NASA didn’t have any hyper-intelligent robot friends in 1986, Space Camp attendees aren’t the same thing as astronaut trainees (and go nowhere near functioning shuttles), and, in spite of a mixed track record, we’ve never accidentally shot a shuttle into space. All of that said, SpaceCamp seems to relish in its obliviousness, and seems shocking uninterested in the fantastic reality of space flight, choosing to substitute in a bizarre, fictitious world in its stead. I can only imagine how disappointed an entire generation of kids were when they discovered that Space Camp doesn’t turn children into astronauts, and no adorable robot companions were included in the program.

They certainly don’t do much to dispel those misunderstandings, though.

Thanks to the utter ludicrousness of the screenplay, SpaceCamp holds up as a charmingly inept love letter to a scientific pursuit that was far beyond the writers’ comprehensions. I would pay good money to watch this movie with a panel of physicists and astronomers (cc: Phil Plait), because I can only imagine the mix of guffaws and exasperated head-shaking this screenplay would incite from them.

SpaceCamp is an under-appreciated bad movie classic if you ask me. You don’t see it covered very often by the big b-movie reviewers, but this flick is the perfect mix of a financial failure, a recognizable cast, an utterly inept screenplay, a high dose of nostalgia, and maybe the worst cultural timing of any movie release in history. I might be a little biased given it is a hometown feature for me, but I implore any detractors out there to give this movie another look. Watch this film today, and try not to laugh at it. I dare you.