Space Truckers (1996) — Hauling laughs and pirate cyborgs across the solar system

“Did you hear something back there that sounds like there’s something back there?”

Justin’s rating: 10-4, good buddy!

Justin’s review: For a good while now, Space Truckers has been my cult white whale. Ever since I heard that there was a 1990s movie made about space truckers while starring Dennis Hopper, I knew that my life had but one purpose. I had to see and review this film. With the concept and the time period in which it was made, it had no chance of being anything other than gloriously terrible.

And now it’s finally mine. Ahh.

I was wrong, however. It wasn’t terrible at all. Even though this movie is loaded with all the cheese that you’d expect from a film about blue-collar cargo haulers who eat hot dogs and drink beer on the way into port, Space Truckers is far better crafted than such a topic deserves. Even the CGI isn’t so bad, especially since it’s mixed with a lot of practical sets and models.

Desperate to make money, independent space trucker John Canyon (Dennis Hopper) agrees to haul a shipment of “sex dolls” (in reality, a whole bunch of indestructible warbots) from Neptune to Earth in two days. Joining him for the haul is up-and-coming trucker Mike (Stephen Dorff, Blade) and space waitress Cindy (Debi Mazar, Empire Records). It won’t be an easy trip, though, because they’re going to have to diverge from the typical space lanes and go through some rough territory to make it.

We’re in for a crazy road trip through the solar system, especially once we hit upon some space hijackers (including Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance as a cyborg) and robotic rampages that take a hard situation and make it even worse. And all through this, there’s a tongue-in-cheek tone that keeps riding the line between humor and out-and-out parody.

But like I said, Space Truckers kept surprising by rising well above my rather low expectations. Everyone is clearly having a lot of fun in these exaggerated roles, the sets are bright and wonderfully designed (I really liked how the space station featured curving floors everywhere), and the plot keeps ticking forward at a really good pace. It may not be taking itself that seriously, but even so, this is way better than Wing Commander or Lost in Space (to compare it to a couple of contemporaries). Actually, I would put Space Truckers somewhere on the same level as The Fifth Element or Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of humor-to-action ratio.

Somebody clearly cared enough to give this silly premise their all — and in the process made entertainment worth watching.

Didja notice?

  • The mother of all flyby shots
  • Sealing a room needs a five-second countdown and a huge announcement after the fact
  • Lots of gooey slimy carnage in the first few minutes
  • Norm!
  • Cube pigs
  • Zero G blood spray
  • Getting sucked out of a small window is not the way to go
  • Bathroom stall elevators
  • Even the computers have a southern twang
  • They get a lot of mileage out of those shoulder bars
  • It’s not creepy at all to comment on a woman’s body odor
  • He’s literally half-man, half-robot

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