Red Dwarf: The Promised Land Quick Takes

R
The very quick take: I like it, wasn’t blown away. I definitely recommend it to fans. If you’re in the US, it’s on Amazon Prime now (at last).

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land (90 minute movie from 2020)
It’s funny how the reviews for this movie are very mixed, and yet I agree with almost everything all of them say. I guess whether those things translate to a “hit” or a “miss” depends on what you’re looking for. For me, it was mostly a hit. Reasonably spoiler free/lite thoughts follow:

The Not Great
* Our core characters do, indeed, never evolve (in RD, in general). Or more accurately, they do but then all their development gets reset. This is no exception. The acting is almost exactly like it was 30 years ago, which means the actors are still spot on but the characters are looking rather like sad, stuck old men. The fact that their costumes and styles don’t really change contributes to this. I’d prefer to a 55-ish looking Lister with a bit of a granddad vibe to a 55-ish Lister dressed like he’s trying to be 25. It looks sad, and it doesn’t have to. There’s nothing wrong with being old guys in space. Good on them–in universe and out–for keeping it going so long. But, yes, some evolution–some value drawn from that age–would be nice.

* The reviews are correct that this isn’t original. The main ideas are recycled from earlier episodes. It is what it is.

The Very Nice
* On the other hand, it’s great that the actors are still so in-step with their characters–and the writing too. Nothing’s changed, alas, but it also hasn’t changed in a good way. I found the jokes fairly funny, sometimes very funny. Not peak RD but nowhere near the bottom either. Delivery was spot on. Holly was amazing, as some reviews have noted.

* Rimmer: he’s basically still Rimmer, but I do see some subtle evolution here. He’s a bit smarter; he’s bit less full-on obnoxious, and I mean by default, not when he’s rising to heroics. That feels appropriate, actually a pretty good balance of maturing Rimmer while keeping him Rimmer.

* The Cat: gets a little more development than we usually see–just a tad, and it’s nice.

* The plotting: it’s not original, but it’s very well handled. Good setup and payoff across several subplots.

* Lots of nice Easter eggs: clearly made for RD fans.

* The studio audience, yes, is sometimes obnoxious but probably the best way to go for RD. The laughter does prop up the aging jokes. The actors play well off the audience; the energy reminds me of Are You Being Served? a bit. It feels like people are really having fun.

Some spoilers follow.Read more… )

comment count unavailable comments

About the author

Arwen Spicer
Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

Arwen Spicer By Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

Get in touch

Subscribe to Arwen's Newsletter