The Uranus Experiment 2 Review

Michael Brooke has reviewed the Region 0 DVD release of The Uranus Experiment 2

“The Uranus Experiment: two spaceships, one American, one Russian, floating in space on the first journey to Uranus. A major technical success and a big step towards the future. Everything went as planned in the co-operation agreement between Krasnogor in Russia and Houston in the United States. But what did the Russians and Americans do when they met? They shagged in space with the whole world watching! So now we have both a total success and a total catastrophe on our hands…”

The Uranus Experiment 2 picks up where its predecessor left off. It seems the rather more than strictly professional interaction between the Russian and American shuttle crews has been beamed, Big Brother-style, all over the world (except Britain – Channel Five bid for the rights, but the ITC slapped them down), and as a consequence the latest space exploration programme is in danger of collapsing under a torrent of ridicule and boorish media comment. Well I never.

The President – who I think is supposed to look like Bill Clinton but bears a rather stronger resemblance to Terry off EastEnders – is understandably shocked to the core, and it’s easy to see why, as US Presidents are cossetted and sheltered creatures who know nothing of fellatio or the creative possibilities of Cuban cigars (not that you get to see any of the latter in this film: that was just a metaphor).

He orders his staff to do something about it, and they go back to their headquarters for an in-depth brainstorming and secretary-shagging session before… actually, come to think of it, not a lot does get done: the astronauts continue to have their wicked ways with each other, and the plot then focuses on one of their wives, who is understandably horrified at seeing her husband being unfaithful in graphic close-up on TV in front of billions.

But when a suspiciously young-looking military psychologist unlocks her memories to reveal that he was equally unfaithful while they were married, she clearly decides that this Penelope-like seclusion is a waste of time (especially since the other astronauts’ wives are busy getting off with each other in the sauna), and when her husband’s commanding officer comes round to debrief her… whoops, that’s given away a major plot spoiler! Sorry about that.

As you’ll see from the running time, this is significantly shorter than its predecessor, which inevitably means considerably less in the way of close-up knobbing (I mention this in passing, since I know most of this film’s target audience will be watching it for its satire on the media or its psychological portrait of a cuckolded woman watching her husband’s infidelity millions of miles away or its speculation as to whether there’s life in the outer reaches of the solar system) .

There are in fact just five sex scenes (not counting the final seconds, which are more of a trailer for part 3 than anything else), though on the whole they’re staged and shot with rather greater style and panache than they were in the first film – I particularly liked the lighting in one of the bedrooms, with the room occasionally lit up by passing cars. As for the actual sexual content, it’s broadly similar to the first film (a quick run-down of what happened there is given at the beginning to bring you up to speed), though with a rather greater emphasis on cunnilingus and anal sex – though the latter is kept strictly heterosexual.

Call me a pedant, but I do have one complaint about the film’s major marketing gimmick, which the French cover art describes as “le premier gang-bang spatial” (you can really see the Academie Française’s point sometimes, can’t you?). My definition of the term usually involves one woman and about 25 men, whereas here it’s far more balanced – three of each. And I also have to say that this scene is for the most part very dull – dimly lit, poorly staged (the spacecraft is too cramped for much in the way of creative camera angles) and while there was some genuine zero-gravity footage in the first film, there’s precious little evidence of that now. And the back of the box promises “des DP sans limite” (which I won’t translate to protect delicate sensibilities) but the term obviously means something different in French to what I understand by it, since such shenanigans are all too limited – in fact, they’re not depicted at all.

The film’s major attraction over its predecessor, though, is the vastly superior soundtrack composed by 3D Del Naja from Massive Attack and Liam Howlett from The Prodigy, which accompanies all the sex scenes and turns them into some bizarre trip-hop video, albeit one unlikely to get much Top of the Pops or MTV airplay (then again, you never know – double beds were taboo in 1930s cinema, and women exposing their elbows on screen was frowned on before that).

Technically, this DVD is well-nigh identical to its predecessor. The opening credits started out in non-anamorphic widescreen for some reason, but the bulk of the film is still in 4:3 – betraying its primary target market of VHS owners with 4:3 sets. Again, it’s a decent, if unexceptional transfer – a few mild glitches (movement can sometimes be a bit fuzzy, presumably a casualty of the original’s video origins) but nothing to complain about.

The music is infinitely better, but the dubbing is still as neanderthal as ever (I particularly liked the newsreader at the beginning saying “Good Morning America!” and the lip-sync missing by miles) and the sound format, once again, appears to be plain stereo. There are seven chapter stops, befitting the shorter running time.

The extras appear to be just as generous as those that accompanied the first film – but there’s a catch: many of them are identical! In fact, the opening menus really are identical – I wondered if I’d put the right disc in at first! – and the feeling of déjà vu continues when the production featurette turns out to be the same one (though at least the ending of the sequel explains why various women had to be covered from head to toe in blue paint) and the programme notes look suspiciously familiar. The cast biographies, though, add some new members (or not, given that they’re all female), and there are rather more hardcore stills on offer (23 in total).

This DVD is more generous on the trailers front, though – there are six in total: for The Uranus Experiment 2 itself (though curiously not any of the other parts), Indecency, Fatal Orchid, Operation Sex Siege, Xtreme and Tatiana – I particularly liked the last of these, which looks a bit like the trailer for a Merchant-Ivory film on top of which some mischievous trouble-maker with a copy of Adobe After Effects has superimposed graphic hardcore sex footage, something unaccountably left out of Howard’s End or A Room with a View (though rumour has it that in the original cut the film’s famous nude bathing scene went rather further…).

All in all, The Uranus Experiment 2 appealed rather more to my highly-developed sense of the absurd than did its predecessor – and the ending hints strongly that part 3 will be even more ridiculous – but there’s no question that for sheer quantity of fleshy appendages interacting the original is miles ahead. As ever, yer pays yer money…

Michael Brooke

Updated: Feb 27, 1999

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