The latest spin on the hoary old chestnut of Hapless Indviduals Pitted Against Superior Intelligence - In Space!, is actor-turned director David Hewlett's DEBUG, which is getting a UK DVD release by Signature Entertainment. It's a Canadian shot low budget affair with gleaming interiors thanks to crisp photography from Gavin Smith. How much you'll enjoy it will probably depend on how many versions of this story you've seen before.
In deep space six naughty young computer programmers convicted of cyber-crimes have to debug a great big spaceship as punishment for what they have done. What they don't realise is that the ship's own intelligence has become far greater than they were expecting, and that it has no intention of being switched off. By exploiting each of the programmers' weaknesses (and that of the security guard with them) it bumps them off until there are only a couple left, leading to the predictable showdown.
DEBUG starts off threatening to become a confuse-fest of SHOCKWAVE DARKSIDE proportions. There's a scene-setting caption. Then each of the characters is introduced by a blink and you'll miss it computer readout of who they are and what their crimes were, but if you really want to read it you'll have to hit the pause button. After that it settles down and becomes a haunted house in space picture. The characters are constructed of the thinnest cardboard, and their demises are all the less affecting for their unlikeabilty. While it looks good, DEBUG can't compete with 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY for a rogue computer gone wild. I'm sure it's not trying to. The problem is it can't compete with BLAKE'S 7 in terms of acting and character development either, and by the end the viewer is left with a mental list of productions that have dealt with the subject matter so much better.
Signature's DVD is bit like the film itself, in that it looks great but is bare bones, with a lack of extras that would have been welcome to flesh out the package.
Signature are releasing David Hewlett's DEBUG on Region 2 DVD on 3rd November 2014