CONTAINS SPOILERS AND BEMUSEMENT
Beware of cheap box sets: the chunky collections with things like Twenty Great SciFi Movies For £10!!!! emblazoned on the front. They turn up in remainder bookshops and on eBay from time to time. It is true that at 50p a movie you're unlikely to feel that badly cheated even by the most underwhelming of offerings: films that you'd be spitting blood over if you'd shelled out £11.99 in the HMV sales. That obviously doesn't make the film any better, it just hurts a little less.
Space Marines is definitely an underwhelming offering: despite the very occasional quirky touch it's simply not good enough. It kicks off with a space pirate raid on a freighter carring a priceless cargo of anti-matter fuel: the Space Marines (the usual squad of hardass mother******* types) attempt to seize control of the pirates' compound and rescue the hostages but they are suddenly pulled out. The pirates then take an ambassador and plan to use him as a human bomb (oddly, the surgical team responsible wear special shirts with their pirate logo on them - why?) to vaporise the entire United Planets Federation unless they get a gigaton of gold, otherwise they'll give the anti-matter to every terrorist outfit in the galaxy. Can Edward Albert's squad rescue the hostages, decode the bomb transmitter and kill the pirates?
Yeah, probably. Far more interesting, really, is the pirate leader: a hilariously unthreatening individual called Fraser (John Pyper-Ferguson) with a tendency to rant and declaim his own universe-destroying genius in a sneery English Villain accent, and who for some unknown reason appears to have modelled his look on Kim Newman, complete with a waistcoat and long hair. Unfortunately this essentially comic turn derails the film from its SF action-thriller roots; and the very low budget (and some shoddy looking FX work, even for 1995) end up making the film look like Starship Troopers shot on sixpence and string, and without any monsters.
It's always good to see Meg Foster, and the deranged villain is good for a few laughs, but even so this isn't very good. The love interest (the Ambassador's attaché) starts out as such an unthinking, unreasoning cretin it's a mystery no-one simply shot her. The tone veers from comic one-liners to spaceship action to lunkhead shoot-em-up, it never seems to decide what it wants to be and ends up a bit of a mess. If you pay more than 50p for it, you'll have been robbed.
More than 50p: