Director/Screenplay – Armen Evrensel, Producers – Holly Baird, Robin Dunne, Rob Merilees & Shayne Putzlocher, Photography – Layton Burton, Music – Patric Caird, Visual Effects Supervisor – Colin Hubick, Visual Effects – Java Post Production & Red Hat Studios, Special Effects Supervisor – Paul Noel, Makeup/Creature Effects – Emerson Ziffle, Production Design – James Phillips. Production Company – Foundation Features/Tri Light Entertainment Inc/Empera Southpaw Productions
Billy Boyd (Anton Balveni), Robin Dunne (Jimmy Anderson), Kristin Kreuk (Tilda Gennero), Amanda Tapping (Valentina), George Takei (Voice of Professor Gary Pinback), Amy Matysio (Female Voice of Wendi)
Jimmy Anderson arrives as the new crewmember aboard the space station Regina in Earth orbit, which has been tasked with eliminating orbiting debris that presents a danger to navigation. The other three crew are bored with the job. Valentina is seeking to be posted elsewhere after switching off a relationship with the captain Anton. After they eliminate new debris and collect the salvage, a container brought aboard emits an energy discharge. Afterwards, they find that all trace of life on Earth has vanished. The station is then impacted by a rubber duck. The crewmember Tilda starts behaving strangely then reveals that she has been replaced by an android. She warns that the Time Cube – a dangerous interdimensional weapon that is capable of destroying the world – has been brought aboard. At the same time, the rubber duck comes to life and reveals that it is a mutated version of Valentina’s ex, the scientist Gary Pinback. As it starts to transform into something monstrous, it tries to do everything it can to obtain the Time Cube.
Space Milkshake was the directorial debut for Canadian director Armen Evrensel who had previously worked in documentaries and written/produced the non-genre drama The Zero Sum (2009). The film premiered on Canadian cable but also did the rounds of a number of fantastic film festivals.
The title – something that is never explained anywhere throughout – and the description of the crewmembers of a space station having to deal with an alien-possessed rubber duck give Space Milkshake a decidedly wacky and offbeat quality. One expected an effort along the lines of a deliberately absurd work such as Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987), Killer Tongue (1996) or maybe the wilful silliness of some of the modern killer shark films viz Sharknado (2013) et al. That perhaps combined with something of what Space Station 76 (2014) should have been. However, the film transpires in a much more ordinary way than you keep expecting. It is not that Space Milkshake is not a comedy or even funny, it is just a very different type of humour than you are led to expect.
The film that Space Milkshake most resembles is Dark Star (1974). The association is directly acknowledged in the naming of one of the characters a Professor Gary Pinback after Sergeant Pinback who was one of the central characters in Dark Star. Like Dark Star, most of the comedic possibilities here are centred around the boredom of life aboard a space mission – the difficulty of sustaining relationships in a confined space, games of Scrabble, hygiene issues, the endless schedules for maintenance and exercise. This the film delivers with a certain wry amusement. The latter half of the film is taken up with the mutating rubber duck monster – here the film tends to resemble a crosshatch between Dark Star and a 1970s-era episode of Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005– ). The main complaint would be that the film grasps at some big concepts – the end of all life on Earth, travel between alternate dimensions/timelines, artefacts with world-destroying potential – but never depicts any of this or does much more than go beyond its space station sets. The digital effects are economical but passable for the film’s needs, although the rubber duck monster often looks cheap and cheesy.
The film has a cast line-up that gives the impression the filmmakers had toured conventions persuading whoever they encountered there to sign on. There’s Billy Boyd, one of the supporting hobbits from The Lord of the Rings – the one that didn’t go on to star in Lost (2004-10), who gives a wilfully unlikeable performance; Kristen Kreuk who was Lana Lang in tv’s Smallville (2001-11); Amanda Tapping from the various Stargate tv shows and Sanctuary (2008-11); Robin Dunne who was the other lead in Sanctuary; and of course George Takei, Star Trek (1966-9)’s Mr Sulu and more recently a social media celebrity, who performers the voice of the mutating scientist.