Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Manborg (2011)



With movies like Kung Fury, Turbo Kid, Wolf Cop, video games like Far Cry 3: Dragon Blood, and (most recently, as of writing) the Netflix series Stranger Things, there seems to be a revival of sorts for 80s nostalgia lately. I cannot tell you how much I love it. Especially when it's done right.

While Manborg gets a few things right, by absolutely nailing the tone, it misses the mark a bit with a story that's fueled by cliche and cultural references.

Good stuff!
But it can be overwhelming without the story to compensate.

The movie opens with a scene between two brothers in what is essentially Alternative World War Something (against the Machines). One brother is killed by the big bad guy. The other is saved and turned into Manborg. You might find some similarities between Manborg and the Mandroid (as seen in Eliminators)...that wasn't unintentional.

The references to other 80s source material don't stop there. The film includes a plethora of other wink-wink nods...like the martial artist "Number One Man" (a reference to Sonny Chiba's Street Fighter), stealing the basic story-line from Mega Man, and the anime-like knife throw seen above.



And that's the problem.

While it's interesting to toss retro-references at your audience at the approximate rate of six-per-scene, the story still has to be interesting enough to hold their attention. If this movie had, perhaps, avoided going (close to) full feature-length (like Kung Fury did, to great benefit), it might not have collapsed under its own weight.

There's some decent stop-motion, at least. Don't see enough of that these days.

Recommended only if watching with people who fondly remember this stuff and can jump in with commentary when you all get bored.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Mutant Hunt (1987)



The film opens with a mixture of New Wave style and mustache twirling evil. Not a bad start as the villain enacts his plan to give drugs to cyborgs that make them kill for pleasure. One of the scientists who learns about the scheme escapes with evidence. Her first thought is to find someone who can help. Enter: Jock Tightstring! Eeerrr. *reads notes* I mean, Matt Riker!

Tighty-white fighting is a great intro to our hero

Turns out, this movie's cyborgs can do whatever weird thing the script, plot, or imagination demands. So. without any precursor, we get Stretch Armstrong Cyborg.



 Quickly followed by cyborg death by face-electrocution.




After this action scene, there's five straight minutes of some of the most baffling world-building exposition. In it, we get these gems (actual lines from the segment):



And moments later...







And that's just a peek at the movie's first act. Throughout, the acting is wooden, the fight choreography lumbers, the soundtrack repeats hilariously, and the writing is patched together with chewing gum and chicken wire. This is a special kind of B-Movie.

Highly recommended to anyone who loves really good trash cinema.

(Like Eliminators and Badlanders, you can frequently find this film showing on Comet TV)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie (1995)



The new Power Rangers movie is coming out, but some of you kiddos out there might not know there was already one...in 1995.

Basically, at the height of the show's popularity, the Powers That Be (no relation to the Power Rangers) decided to put together a big screen episode of the show. As such, it doesn't disrupt the show's status-quo and adds a tertiary villain that the Rangers could defeat without turning the popular show on it's head.

The movie's villain (Ivan Ooze) captures the show's villains in a snowglobe. 

(For those that don't know, the Power Rangers show is basically "built" from footage of the heroes suited-up and shot for a Japanese show. That footage was then added to segments with the American actors.)

These parts...

...added to these parts...

...came together to make this.

The movie doesn't work that way though. Instead, it's all original footage. So, with that sort of freedom, you'd expect some risks to be taken with the story. Not so much. Instead, the first act finds a giant purple egg unearthed at a construction site...hatching the movie's villain, Ivan Ooze.

Trivia: same actor who played Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Soon after, Ooze puts the main villains on hold (in that snowglobe) and proceeds to enact his plan (based on the plot of The Stuff) to conquer humanity. He gives away his Ooze, which people eat and it mind-controls them. Don't think about it too much. The plot doesn't deserve that much contemplation.

The Ooze also makes people who eat it wear purple, for some reason.

In the end, the Rangers must fight the ultimate battle as Ivan Ooze transforms into "Terrible Mid-90s CGI Effects."

That's a fight that no one wins.

While the special effects of the film are cringe-worthy, this movie is at least faithful to the series. After all, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a show that embraced (and still embraces) its own cheesiness. In fact, the 1995 movie is basically a longer version of one of the episodes (which were known for their "creative" storylines). Apparently, the same can't really be said for the 2017 version.