Space Station 76 is a film set in the future but shown with a bit of a 1970s sci-fi homage. The film takes little bits from movies like Flash Gordon and others with a very low-budget feel. The sets all look like they came straight out of a 1975 SEARS catalogue. Out of the feature films I saw at SXSW, this was probably the one that I was most conflicted about. There were a lot of things I really enjoyed and dug about the film, and there was a lot that just completely turned me off and made me leave the theater quietly cussing to myself.
So let's start with the positives, shall we? The acting was a big plate of nachos, cheesy, but good. (Writer's note: I hope that they meant for this to be slightly cheesy, if not this reviewer totally missed the point) Since this movie is meant to look like it was shot in the seventies, the acting was also a little over the top. I thought that the one person who absolutely stole the show was Kylie Rogers who played the little girl Sunshine. She was phenomenal and really outshone everyone else in the movie, which is saying a bit because the movie has some really good actors and actresses. I really liked Liv Tyler and Marisa Coughlan, and the interactions between the two was very tense and slightly uneasy, when and if you see the film, you'll understand why that's a good thing. Matt Bomer, from White Collar and Magic Mike fame, did a really good job as the caring father to Sunshine, but it is starting to feel like he is playing the same character over again. Patrick Wilson's portrayal of Captain Glenn, the sexist, alcoholic, over-compensating, closeted, and dull leader of the ship was good, but Patrick Wilson is a very good actor, and I felt that he was underutilized in this role.
The other great thing about this movie was the set design and props. Like I said earlier, everything looked like it came out of a 1975 SEARS or WOOLWORTH's catalogue. The clothing, the kitchenware, the robots, even the futuristic cybernetic hands were dated. It gave everything a very old/futuristic feel to it.
That being said, the movie had some flaws that will hurt it in the long run. The misogyny and sexism that was obviously prevalent in the 70's and showed through in the films from that decade made sense, and it seems that the movie was trying to make fun of that, but it ended up falling flat on its face. Anchorman did a much better job at poking fun of that era's sexism. In this movie, it seemed like it was forced and just didn't deliver the punch line that this movie was obviously trying to set up.
The major flaw for me, that one "thing" that just ruined the film for me, was the ending. There are certain films where you don't need, or you shouldn't have, closure. Inception is a great example. The top keeps spinning, and it cuts to black before anything starts to really happen and you are left to wonder. That's what that kind of movie is meant to be. This is not one of those movies. After a major bombshell is dropped, the movie just kind of ends. You don't have any real closure on any of the characters, and you are just left with this movie with all the ends just kind of frayed and left there, like the writers didn't really know how they wanted to end the movie so they went a bit lazy and just threw some scenes at the end to give the impression that they were leaving it up to the audience to decide how everything should end.