Space Cop (2016) Review

Probably my biggest inspiration for pursuing film criticism (as well as one my favorite pastimes) is watching the film review-based web series of Red Letter Media. Often noted for their sardonic and hypercritical tone, Red Letter Media has helped to shape the way I view movies. The creators of RLM (Jay Bauman and Mike Stoklassa) have directed several of their own independent films in the past, most notably their 2016 sci-fi schlock picture Space Cop.

Space Cop stars the internet’s very own Rich Evans as the inept and careless police officer from the future, Space Cop. Space Cop travels back in time to the present to stop a renegade team of aliens that threaten the extinction of humanity. In the present, Space Cop must team up with a cryogenically frozen cop from the past who’s thawed out in the present. With two different cops from two different time periods on the same case, they’ll have to learn to work together to save the day.

Space Cop is as strange and awkward of a film as the title and plot clearly suggest. Average Joe moviegoers having the foresight to see this, you’re probably not watching Space Cop because you found it at the local Family Video or while browsing Netflix. No, you’re watching because you’re a fan of the popular web series by Red Letter Media.

Humorously referred to as “hack frauds” by their core audience, RLM shares a cordial love-hate relationship with their fans and peers. Space Cop is a wonderful extension of this sentiment. Plenty of fans seem divided on the quality of the film, despite its purposeful attempt at absurdity.

Some scenes are hilarious and get a good chuckle. Other scenes are just painful to sit through and carry on for too long. Some sets are designed with an intentional cheapness that felt self-aware, which I kind of admired. Other sets felt a little too lazy, as if they were crunched for time on the production (like bad 80’s movies). The acting from our leads was overly theatrical in a lot of places, but occasionally was more distracting than humorous.

Despite all these conflictions, I believe the film stays true to its intended purpose, serving as a nice sendup to 80’s schlock films that the makers of Space Cop obviously took inspiration from. Schlock films of the past made little logical sense, had corny dialogue, and included over-the-top protagonists that loved to ham it up. All these aspects are confidently showcased in Space Cop, either to the enjoyment (or agitation) of the moviegoer.

Space Cop is a sci-fi schlockfest with as niche of an audience as humanly possible, mostly because it was made with the intent to be terrible. Therefore, it’s ill-advised that a traditional moviegoer watches Space Cop, unless they take masochistic pleasure in viewing bad movies (of forcing friends to).

Red Letter Media is at their funniest and most clever on their internet review shows Half in the Bag and Best of the Worst, where they often discuss terrible, long-forgotten films. RLM’s honest reactions to bad movies are infinitely more entertaining than the scripted puns and gags of Space Cop. Those who decide to venture into Space Cop territory would benefit greatly from listening to the commentary track, as you might get more out of the experience doing so.

-Zachary Flint

The Verdict: B-

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