BAD MOVIE SUNDAY: STRANDED (2013)

I love movies and sometimes it’s fun to watch something completely random without knowing what it’s about. We had this Canadian scifi horror lying around, so hubby and I made it our Sunday evening entertainment. I’d never heard of Stranded before, but I’m eager to watch small-budget scifi for its originality. I’ve come across some real gems. And this had Christian Slater in it, so how bad could it be?

 

 

Well, it was terrible. We found out afterward that this movie has 3.5 on IMDb, and that’s 1.5 points too many in my opinion. I give this movie 2 points out of 10—the soundtrack was beautiful and the lunar base interior looked nice (the exterior was so obviously a miniature they might as well have built it out of Lego, but that’s beside the point)—the rest was a complete disaster.

WARNING, this angry rant contains spoilers and bad language.

So what do we have? The movie starts off okay. We have a small base on the surface of the Moon, manned by four people—three men and one woman. A meteorite bombardment destroys part of the base and the crew loses communications with Earth. They also end up with elevated levels of CO2 in the air, which might lead to hallucinations. They grab one of the meteorites that fell on them and decide to take a closer look at it. So far so good. The acting isn’t mind-blowing and the dialogue is a bit weak, but I’m still on board. I can enjoy run-of-the-mill scifi; just tell me a story and I’m happy.

The doctor of the mission splits the meteorite in half and discovers organic material inside that starts to replicate like crazy. In a few minutes he’s looking at a mess like this:

 

 

I would be alarmed, but he merely seems mildly curious as if he encountered stuff like this on a regular basis. He shows it to the science officer and she puts some of the alien cells into a centrifuge. She cuts her finger on a broken test tube. I rolled my eyes at this, but what the heck; this is how the virus spreads in most other movies, too. But then the woman—supposedly a competent crew member—just wipes her finger and doesn’t tell anyone that she just got contaminated! A moment later she’s dizzy, but when the guys question her, she claims she’s fine. The low IQ of the entire crew is starting to bother me. The woman doesn’t seem to want medical attention, and the doctor who actually sees her feeling ill only shrugs and goes back to minding his own business.

And it just goes downhill from there. The woman passes out in the hallway. She wakes up in the sickbay where the guys have carried her. She has a swollen belly as if she was pregnant. By now it should be obvious that something has infected her, but she still doesn’t say anything to the doctor! She merely freaks out and whines that the guys shouldn’t leave her alone, never mind that she’s compromising their safety.

 

 

The guys should totally put her in quarantine, but the doctor is of the opinion that they can’t leave the dumbass lady by herself because she’s so scared. Seriously? But he also claims he doesn’t know what’s wrong with her and he doesn’t know how to treat her. So why the hell should he stay with her then? If all he can do is hold her hand, why can’t he go do something more useful? Plus, it never occurs to anyone to wear sterile suits when around her.

 

 

Then they leave the woman alone after all—completely without supervision. I guess the doctor had more important things to do, after all. The freaky alien pregnancy comes to full term in a matter of hours, and the woman gives birth to…something. The guys find her in a puddle of blood and other fluids. She’s alive, so they only pick her up from the floor and put her back to bed. The doctor doesn’t bother to examine her more closely or look for the thing that came out of her. He thinks that she might have simply had a cyst that ruptured.

At this point I started to desperately hope that the movie isn’t as dumb as it appears to be—maybe the doctor is a double agent. Maybe he’s under secret orders to breed alien life, which is why he’s so sloppy and gives false information to the rest of the crew. Nothing but wishful thinking, I’m afraid. Unfortunately no one was acting stupid to cover up a hidden agenda; they were all just PLAIN. STUPID.

Then there’s the engineer guy. The alien spawn bites him in the leg. The engineer tells the doctor that something bit him, but the doctor doesn’t believe him. The doc patches his leg. He tells the engineer he must have cut himself on some glass and is hallucinating due to the CO2 in the air. The doctor’s ever more blatant incompetence makes me want to scream. Not only can’t he tell a pregnancy from a cyst, he also can’t tell a glass cut from a bite mark. WHERE THE HELL DID THIS IDIOT GO TO MED SCHOOL? WHY IS HE ON THIS MISSION?

But anyway, back to the engineer. After the science officer gave birth, the engineer is up to his elbows in her blood.

 

 

He goes around popping pills and boozing, practically licking the infected blood off his hands in the process. No one tells him to stop drinking on duty or even go wash his hands. The funny thing is, I expected this to have consequences. The woman in this movie got one nick on her finger and got instantly pregnant, but apparently the guys can go around eating, drinking, and inhaling alien cells without a care in the world. But whatever.

The alien grows into a human-like thing. It kills the doctor and the engineer (excuse me for not caring). The leader of the mission and the science officer eventually decide to escape the base.

 

 

They prep the escape pod, but then the alien gets into the pod first and flies to Earth, leaving them behind. At this point I hoped to see these two idiots die simply because they deserved it, but no. Just as they’re running out of oxygen in the damaged lunar base, a miracle rescue ship arrives. The movie ends with the alien landing on Earth and mutating into something monstrous—an obvious cliffhanger, as if they hoped to make a sequel to this dumpster fire. When the credits rolled, my topmost thought was WHO SCRIPTED THIS SHIT?

I was majorly pissed off. I wanted to be entertained; not to be pulling my hair out and groaning at the dumb plot and the dumb characters. But there’s definitely something positive to be gained from this experience. A silver lining! I realized that I could write a better movie script than this, and my dear fellow writers, so could you!

 

Ladies and gents, I give you THE 3 BIGGEST FUCK-UPS IN THIS MOVIE AND HOW TO AVOID THEM:

 

1. GROSS INCOMPETENCE AS THE MAIN PLOT DEVICE

The entire plot in Stranded is driven by the characters’ utterly flabbergasting incompetence. I didn’t even get to Christian Slater’s character and his complete inability to impose discipline on his crew. The only reason why the hostile alien gets to transform from a few cells on the Moon to a bloodthirsty monster on Earth is because the humans let themselves get infected, don’t bother to investigate it or contain it, and in the end they even show it the way to the escape pod so that it can go and infest their homeworld. What were the creators of this movie thinking? Nobody wants to cheer for such idiots!

…HIDDEN AGENDA AS THE MAIN PLOT DEVICE

Ridley Scott’s fabulous Alien (1979) does it better. You have the explorer guy with the infamous facehugger on his face, and his concerned buddies try to bring him back into the ship. The crew member in charge of the ship, Ellen Ripley, says no; you’re not bringing that shit on board. She refuses to open the door because she’s observing regulations and she’s prepared to sacrifice the lives of the three people outside in order to protect the ship and the rest of the crew inside. That’s a competent badass character right there!

But then the science officer Ash lets the infected guy in against Ripley’s orders. We find out later that Ash is under secret orders from the company to bring an alien specimen to Earth—the human crew is expendable. Do I even need to underline how brilliant this is? You have characters with opposite interests and they’re all doing their best to achieve their goals. Shit hits the fan because you have a traitor on board—not because you yourself are too stupid to recognize danger. Learn from the master!

 

2. NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

There’s no character development in Stranded, unless if you count the alien—he went from a few hibernating cells to an intelligent creature, which is quite an accomplishment, actually. Maybe I should cheer for the alien. The four humans start and end equally boneheaded, and two of them even die of their combined stupidity. Maybe that’s development?

…ACTUAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

You know why I love Pitch Black (2000)? It’s not because of Vin Diesel’s first appearance as Riddick, even though he’s super hot in this movie. What I loved the most was that this movie had character development. The badass female protagonist Carolyn Fry starts off as someone who cares more about her own ass than about the lives of the passengers on her ship—but in the end she’s prepared to sacrifice her life for others. Riddick, similarly, starts off as a selfish criminal who only cares about his own survival, but he too, in the end risks his life to protect others. This movie makes me FEEL something! I love these characters because they go through personal journeys in addition to fighting an alien menace. They learn good qualities from one another. This is what all good stories are about: characters bonding and growing.

 

3. GET YOUR SCIENCE RIGHT!!

This should be self-explanatory, especially in a science fiction movie. Do I want to bring up again the stupid doctor who doesn’t seem to know the first thing about medicine? No, let me mention something else instead. At the end of Stranded where the leader of the mission and the science officer are sitting and waiting to die, a rescue ship lands outside the lunar base. He perks up and goes like “Do you hear that?”.

We’re given a shot of a shuttle landing accompanied by impressive roaring and hissing of engines.

 

 

Sigh. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yup. Sound in space. The makers of this movie conveniently forgot that sound does not carry in space because the distance between two molecules is too great for sound waves to make it. So there’s no way Christian Slater’s character (or the film audience) would hear anything. At most C. Slater might feel the floor vibrate if the rescue ship makes a rough landing, but considering the weak lunar gravity…it’s a bit so-so.

You don’t have to be a scientist to figure this stuff out. Google will already get you pretty far when you don’t want your “science” fiction movie laughed out of the theatre.

 

Anyway, I was angry because I wasted an evening on this, but I actually feel a lot better now that I ranted about it. Do you need to vent? Tell me which movies made you want to explode. It doesn’t have to be scifi.

And afterward everybody, go write! If rubbish like Stranded is made into a film, you have a real chance to see your own—much better—works on the silver screen. I want to watch the movies based on your books!

10 thoughts on “BAD MOVIE SUNDAY: STRANDED (2013)

  1. Wow, this movie sounds terrible! It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when a whole plot revolves around characters being TSTL (too stupid to live).

    I can’t think of a terrible movie off the top of my head, but I was watching a sci-fi series a while back that made me want to scream and gnash my teeth. (Unfortunately I’ve forgotten the name of it.) The characters were supposed to be intelligent, accomplished people flying around in huge space ships and dealing with alien species (as best I remember). There was no explanation for why they acting like idiotic, self-centred teenagers. Except that they had to for the plot to work, though “work” might be a strong word.

    The other thing that bugs me is zombie movies. You know you’re in a world where zombies appear from nowhere and launch to the attack. You should darn well KEEP WATCH! I don’t care if you’re having an interesting conversation or the girl is pretty. Look over your shoulder once in a while! Zombies should not be able to sneak up behind you when you’re out in the open.

    Thanks for the chance to rant. I feel much better now. 🙂

    1. TSTL – yay, thanks, I haven’t seen this abbreviation before, but I’m going to be using it from now on! 😀 There are a lot of fictional characters out there suffering from this syndrome. Let me know if the name of that scifi series comes back to you so that I can stay far away from it. It sounds awful. It drives me nuts when characters are portrayed as supposedly “intelligent, brave, competent” but then they act like teenage idiots.

      Zombie movies! I’m totally with you there, they bug me too. I’m supposed to care about characters who are too dumb to avoid the walking dead? Grrrrh. In addition to stupid characters there are also the completely predictable jump scares, the cars that won’t start when they characters are trying to get away, the annoying liabilities (a pregnant woman, a kid with asthma, the dude who gets bitten but doesn’t tell anyone, etc.). I could start another rant about zombie movie clichees.

      Yup, ranting helps, doesn’t it. 😀 Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Anything that involves sailing or diving. It always seems that the film makers just go, nah, any form of realism’s too boring, so let’s make them do this dangerous/silly/impossible/irresponsible/illogical thing instead. Sharks and moray eels are always out to get you. And I especially love how in EVERY sailing scene, the yacht will be tearing along under full sail, but you can see the water’s so flat a remote control boat couldn’t get any speed up…

    The SO makes me watch them just for the entertainment value he gets when I start shouting at the screen.

    1. Yay, Kim, nice to see you here! 😀 “Sharks and moray eels are always out to get you.” This cracked me up! You’re right, sailing and diving movies are unnaturally eager to throw realism out the window. I roll my eyes whenever they display sharks and other creatures behaving contrary to their nature. No, they’re not bloodthirsty monsters who just want to chew up every imaginable swimmer/diver/waterskiier…they’re animals looking for food or defending their territory, and it would be more exciting if the movies actually depicted them as such. Haha, I think those sailing scenes would be improved if they also showed the motor boat pulling the yacht…

      Your SO sounds like an awesome guy! He clearly understands the value of quality entertainment. 😀

  3. Oh my wow, Anna, I am so sorry you had to endure this frustrating movie, but on the bright side it made for a really entertaining blog post. 😀 In fact, you should forward this to the movie’s producers, they might offer you a screenwriting position!

    I’m sad about Christian Slater’s complete fall from silverscreen grace. I loved every movie he ever starred in from Gleaming the Cube to True Romance (an all-star cast, that one!), even just playing the smaller part of Will in Kevin Costner’s version of Robin Hood was great.

    I don’t really have a recent movie to rant over, itself, but I would like to state my disappointment in these producers who take on a book series yet never make the second movie! Lookit, I understand it’s all about budget and revenue, but IMO they need to figure out how to make all the movies, before even filming the first one. George Lucas paid for movies out of pocket for crying aloud. He didn’t have a Hollywood budget when he started out and Star Wars will never be classified as a b-rated film!

    I just watched the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, only to learn they will never make the next one. 😐 I had this same crushing disappointment with Eragon and the Golden Compass. Just stop it, already. Don’t tease me, if you can’t follow through, Hollywood Hussies!

    Oooh, speaking of teasing, you said Vin Diesel…as Riddick. 😛 Totally made my night.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 😀 I would make an awesome screenwriter, yes! Every movie producer should try to hire me.

      I’m so with you on the Christian Slater front! This is the first of his movies that I didn’t like and I didn’t know such a thing was possible. True Romance is great and I LOVED him as Will Scarlet in Robin Hood! 😀 My personal CS favorite is Broken Arrow; he plays so brilliantly against John Travolta.

      I also share your annoyance with movie producers who make one movie in a series and then drop it. Grrrh. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve gotten disappointed again. I’m not familiar with City of Bones, but I love His Dark Materials and I was so pumped back when Golden Compass was made into a movie! I went to see it and looked forward to seeing the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass, but they never came. Hollywood Hussies! We don’t want a tease, we want the full show!

      Yup, Vin Diesel as Riddick…he pretty much defines the badass alpha male for me. XD Yum!

      1. Oh, how could I forget Broken Arrow?! That was definitely one of the best. The first movie I ever saw Samantha Mathis in was “This Thing Called Love” with River Phoenix and Dermot Mulroney about aspiring singers in Nashville. It had a lot of cameos from famous Country singers of that time. She’s another actor who’s career strangely fell off the radar, though I think she’s in television now. Better than CS is doing, at any rate.

        I think you would make an awesome screenwriter, I’ve read your books! Can I help with the casting? 😛 LOL

        Uh yeah, Vin Diesel’s picture should be right next the definition of hot, bad-ass alpha male in every dictionary, and it’s not just the looks, but that voice!

        1. I don’t think I ever saw Samantha Mathis anywhere else, which is a pity. I really liked her in Broken Arrow. Hey, based on your books you’d make a fabulous screenwriter, too! 😀 LOL, when our books are made into big blockbuster movies we should totally help each other out with the casting! We’ll handpick the leading males 😛 Yeah, gotta love Vin Diesel’s voice!

          1. She played Guinevere in the Mists of Avalon, that’s the only other one I can think of off the top of my head.

            I actually tried to write a screenplay once, but I didn’t have the patience for it lol I give them credit, definitely a skill set I don’t possess.

            Have you ever tried to find an actor or male model that matches the idea of what your characters look like? I had to do that with Voryk once for an author interview, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

          2. I should watch Mists of Avalon!

            LOL, no, I have to admit I haven’t tried to find actors who would match the characters in my head. And I wouldn’t know either who could do Voryk justice. Let alone Saphiel. Eeek! But I’m sure it’s doable! I think we would have to test the younger and lesser known actors. I’m sure there’s amazing talent out there who simply haven’t landed a big role yet.

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