The perils of space travel were explored with brilliance in Ron Howard’s well-crafted “APOLLO 13”, and almost 40 years earlier, COLUMBIA TRISTAR attempted to create a suspense film about space travel with “MAROONED”. After completing a dangerous mission, the three-man spacecraft, “Ironman One” runs into trouble when its retro rocket breaks down. The men are now “marooned”, their air supply is running low, and their orbit is breaking down. The cast is terrific! Richard Crenna, James Franciscus and Gene Hackman help make their plight convincing via their strong performances. Gregory Peck and David Janssen as the help from below, almost overcome the dreadful dialogue, but the operative word is “almost”!
Director John Sturges isn’t able to keep up the pace here, and what’s supposed to be a nail-biter, quickly becomes a yawner. It’s even more disappointing because there are some great themes taking place, including the moving sacrifice of one character to save others.
Another thing hurting the film’s potential impact, are the special effects. “MAROONED” won an Oscar for “special effects” and it’s hard not to laugh at certain scenes. It’s amazing to find how many low budget films have better effects than what’s on display here.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has preserved the film’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. The film had been nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography. Again, this was overdone. There’s nothing about the film’s look staggering enough to deserve such praise. Still, the transfer looks good, and colors are generally solid. There’s terrific detail, at times detrimental to the film(especially in terms of miniatures), but impressive all the same. Contrast is fine, offering a high level of clarity in the darker “space” scenes. Fleshtones appear natural.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has also presented a Dolby Digital Surround mix. Being that the film was also nominated for “Best Sound”, it’s probably a good thing that the original mix doesn’t appear to have been tampered with too much. What little separation there is, generally feels forced. However, fidelity is quite good, and dialogue is always intelligible.