Directors/Producers – Jay Bauman & Mike Stoklasa, Screenplay – Mike Stoklasa, Story – Jay Bauman, Rich Evans & Mike Stoklasa, Music – Marty Meinerz, Visual Effects – Jay Bauman, Colin Cunningham & Jack Packard, Alien Creature Designs – Rich Evans, Alien Creature Effects – Dale Blank. Production Company – Red Letter Media.
Rich Evans (Space Cop), Mike Stoklasa (Detective Ted Cooper), Jocelyn Ridgely (Zorba), Chike Johnson (Agnon Ahm), Jay Bauman (Grigg), Dale R. Jackson (Chief Washington), Tim Higgins (Moon Mayor/Bartender), Rich Pendzich (Hostage Taker)
In Milwaukee of 2058, Space Cop is a tough officer who works the beat between Earth and space, although gets in frequent trouble for his crude and violent methods. He is chasing some bad guy aliens in his spacegoing cop car when they open a timewarp. Space Cop pursues them through as they travel back in the year 2007. Eight years later and Space Cop is working on the present-day Milwaukee police force and still getting into the same trouble. During a robbery of a cryogenics warehouse, Space Cop’s shooting up the facility ends up unfreezing Ted Cooper, a detective who was frozen in the 1950s. Ted proceeds to join the force as Space Cop’s partner. As the two investigate a series of gold thefts, they realise they are on the trail of the aliens from the future who are in cohorts with Dr Schulmann, a disembodied brain rescued from cryogenic storage who is building a bomb that will cause the Earth to be swallowed up in a miniature black hole.
Space Cop is a film from the Milwaukee-based firm Red Letter Media, which consists of Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman. Red Letter Media took off in 2008 after they published a YouTube review of Star Trek: Generations (1994), which was delivered by Stoklasa’s persona of Harry S. Plinkett, an illiterate psychopath. Their channel gained attention in particular after they published a lengthy review of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and others. Red Media have also made several low-budget feature films, all within the genre, with Gorilla Interrupted (2003), Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant (2004), The Recovered (2008) and Feeding Frenzy (2010). Space Cop took eight years to make.
I began watching Space Cop with the vain hope that it might be something that approaches Star Cops (1987), one of the great and underrated science-fiction tv series of the 1980s. Alas, such could not be further from the truth. If there is a comparison you could make, it might be to something like Sledge Hammer (1986-8) and its parody of the cop show but played out more down around the level of a low-budget copy of Dumb and Dumber (1994). Rich Evans plays an overweight slob who seems like a parody of the macho over-the-top brutality of Sylvester Stallone cops in films like Cobra (1986) – he even wears a helmet into action and never takes it off, suggesting something of Stallone’s Judge Dredd (1995).
I can see where Space Cop is going but it needed polish. Some of the set-ups would have been a lot funnier if the film had been made by a more experienced director, you suspect. The only name the filmmakers have managed to get on board is Patton Oswalt who has a single scene as Space Cop’s boss that drags on long after the gag of the scene has been delivered.
The film also makes do with a low budget – it does wonders with it but when you see that Space Cop’s car is just a contemporary vehicle with a few attachments on it and that no vehicular fashions have changed in 42 years, things show through. The model effects also badly suffer from a lack of motion control camerawork. On the plus side, the visual effects team have touched up the background of every shot during the future scenes leading to a world that looks visually detailed.
The humour is broad and lacks much in the way of laugh-out-loud moments. Things do pick up with the introduction of Mike Stoklasa as the cop thawed out from the 1950s (the era he came from seems to waver). Very little is played on Space Cop as a fish out of water in another era but Stoklasa’s detective is given some amusing scenes where he gets excited about a future where computers have one megabyte of memory, you can take two hours to transfer a photo by phone and so on.