Capricorn One (1978)

Monday, February 26, 2007
The mission was a sham. The murders were real. Would you be shocked to find out that the greatest moment of our recent history may not have happened at all?

Capricorn One is a classic conspiracy tale about the first manned mission to Mars. All appears to be going well until the astronauts are pulled off the ship just before launch by shadowy government types and whisked off to a film studio in the desert. It transpires that the space vehicle has a major defect which NASA just daren't admit. At the studio, over a course of months, the astronauts are forced to act out the journey and the landing to trick the world into believing they have made the trip. Meanwhile, a journalist is getting suspicious and every clue he uncovers seems to result in an attempt on his life! The astronauts are just about to splashdown when a further twist to the tale occurs, leaving them with no choice but to try and escape... (From IMDb.com)

The movie is well made and can still hold it's own despite being almost 30 years old. And for the most part, it's well acted. Elliott Gould is fabulous as always. I have yet to see him in something, even Friends, that I don't enjoy his performance. However, he'll always be Noah Dugan to me. Sam Waterston gives a great light-hearted and amusing performance as the wise-cracking Willis - a nice change from his role as district attorney Jack McCoy on Law and Order. I'm no fan of OJ Simpson but I was disappointed that he didn't get more screen time in this movie. Its was painfully obvious that they gave him the role for the name recognition and the football fans it would draw. I'd be surprised if they gave his character more than 10 or 15 lines in the whole movie. The few scenes where he did get to flex his acting chops were well done, especially when he falls into the dry riverbed and is captured (sorry...that's a spoiler...), and he shows promise as an actor. It's a shame he ended up making "Naked Gun" movies and became famous not for acting but for "possibly" killing his estranged wife and her friend. James Brolin would be disappointing if I thought he could act. Thankfully I don't so there were no hard feelings. He was typically wooden and unemotional. Telly Savalas, in a minor role, was delicious as the crotchety crop duster that helps break the story (oops another spoiler). Overall I'd give a thumbs up despite the ending which is a bit disappointing.

Most of you know from reading my blog that I have my doubts (ha!) about the moon landing and its authenticity. That's not to say I don't believe humans have been into space or orbited the planet. Hollywood, however, has been recreating space missions, weightlessness, and the moon landing since the late 60s (Kubrick's 2001 was released in 1968). Why should the idea of Nasa faking the moon landing (or, in this case, a Mars landing) be so unbelievable?

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