It’s a lazy morning on a merchant cargo ship headed for Venus; the crew members are working out, shaving, having sex and, in the case of the captain, ignoring the controls. They’re on a collision course with an asteroid when the captain saves his hide by abandoning ship.
After the asteroid hits, the rest of the crew is stranded with 22 hours of oxygen. Only one will make it: Will it be hedonistic chief engineer Jack Wagner, rigid second mate Jack Coleman, seasoned chief Kay Lenz, rookie cadet Sigrid Thornton, or volatile bosun Craig Wasson? Reason prevails — for a time.
Director Arthur Allan Seidelman fleshes out the stock format nicely, focusing on the well-developed characters rather than gadgetry and logistics.
Wagner is the center of the piece, equally good when flashing his bod and outwitting his shipmates. Roguish and boyish, he expresses both the character’s malaise and heroism. The other actors don’t stand a chance in the face of his charm, although Coleman and Thornton provide the more emotionally charged moments.
Wasson is suitably over-the-top as Palmer. Lenz yells too much; she’s understandably stressed but the perf looks strained. As the cowardly captain, Kevin Colson is on the mark.
The smart script by Arlington Hughes and Melinda M. Snodgrass features its share of gallows humor, and the intelligent dialogue does right by every character and the storyline.
Superb lighting design and Nino Martinetti’s creative photography make the most of a potentially monotonous setting. The space shots and special effects are modest, plausible and appealing.
The same can be said of the movie as a whole. “Trapped in Space” doesn’t overreach itself.