‘Sol 3 is better than I thought it was when I bought it.’
An alien slave trader wins the planet Earth at auction and launches an invasion in order to secure the raw materials of his business. The situation looks hopeless until a gang of swashbuckling mavericks with special skills step into the breach to try to save the day…
In the wake of the global explosion of ‘Star Wars’ (1977), many filmmakers rushed their own space operas into production in all corners of the world. Most of them only had one go at the genre, but some were markedly more enthusiastic. Take a bow, Alfonso Brescia. Under the name of Al Bradley, the Italian director delivered four such pictures in the space of a couple of years, five if you count ‘The Beast In Space’ (1980) (although we probably shouldn’t as it was a semi-porno.) Of course, he recycled the same sets, costumes and SFX, and even some of the same actors, most notably Yanti Somer, who was the female lead in most and appears here.
The last of Brescia’s quartet of space epics doesn’t waste any time in getting started (more on that later), with big bad Kess of Kol launching an immediate alien invasion that leaves the Earth at his mercy. The authorities simply can’t deal with him, even though his main weapons seem to be badly integrated library footage of big explosions and androids in silly blonde wigs prancing about in the woods. Mankind’s last, worst hope turns out to be freewheeling Professor Ennio Balbo and his ragtag bag of misfits who operate on both sides of the law (try not to yawn, Ladies and Gentlemen). These include dapper Gianni Garko, who sports black leather trousers and a nifty shirt with a glittery spider design. His hypnotic powers allow him to see through cards at the local casino (useful thing this hypnotism stuff!) and break scientists Chris Avram and Malisa Longo out of intergalactic prison (‘It’s a terrible bore being under the freeze ray for a warm-hearted girl’.)
Strangely enough when Garko’s well on his way to work the jailbreak via a cut-price Millennium Falcon, he finds himself right back at the card table in the casino, and the blonde he’d helped win earlier is still playing her numbers game across the room. Then we see Kess of Kol buying the Earth at auction (which we kind of thought that he’d already done?!) So, what’s happening? Has the film a complex flashback structure? Or does it have a mind-bending timeline in the tradition of director Christopher Nolan? Um, probably neither. It’s far more likely that the editor simply got the reels of film mixed up and put some of the scenes together in the wrong order! l’m not even joking.
Once we’ve passed this strange temporal anomaly, we’re treated to the scientists spending most of the running time trying to isolate something to counterattack the alien substance ‘lnderium’ (ln the end they call it ‘Anti-lnderium’ folks!) We also get ‘comedy’ (l use the term very loosely) provided by two bickering robots in love (the girl ‘bot has big eyelashes!) There’s also a pedal bin with flashing lights that stands in for R2D2.
After about an hour, our zeroes do finally manage to achieve something when they get their hands on some lnderium Swords (cough; lightsabers; cough). There are no big space battles, but we are treated to Norman (Roberto Dell’Acqua) taking part in the Android-Human World Championship where he squares off in the ring against an eight foot tall tin can called Hercules. And we also get uptight Nino Castelnuovo as Lt Oliver ‘Hollywood’ Carrera who has a ridiculously paint-on Errol Flynn moustache.
As 1970s Science Fiction goes, this is predictably dreadful stuff (which ‘Star Wars’ knock-offs weren’t?) but it’s actually worse than most due to its almost total lack of action and annoying ‘humorous’ elements. There’s a second (third?) hand feel to everything, and it’s no surprise that Brescia abandoned intergalactic exploration shortly afterward (if you forget the porno!) Unfortunately, he did return to the fantastical arena with dreadful ‘Ator The Invincible’ sword and sorcery fiasco ‘Iron Warrior’ (1987).
Rather brilliantly, in this film some of the supporting cast appear ‘in alphabetical order’ in the starting credits. It actually says that. Only it seems that a mighty strange alphabet was used. Because they don’t. Not even close.
Take my word for it; the whole thing’s best avoided.