Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tank Girl


   Zany, ridiculous, and energetic- only the most rigid and anti-fun people could find Tank Girl devoid of a good time. Granted, it could've used more of an edge- been more explicit, more violent, but it's only not- because of studio interference. What more can I say really? Tank Girl is a movie that exists in a world where the good guys never get shot, despite zipping by in plain sight of dozens of enemy troops. It's not a movie you're meant to take seriously, so why are so many people being anal about it? Well, half of the anal crowd I can perfectly understand. See, Tank Girl is based on a comic book with a hell of a following, and the movie didn't do the comic justice properly.

   Then again, few 90's comic book movies ever did. (See: The Phantom, Judge Dredd, The Shadow, et cetera...) All we can do now, is look back on those movies and try to find something enjoyable about them. The Phantom is a swashbuckling old school adventure with high production values, and the practical effects in Judge Dredd are amazing, as well as the style and set design. Similarly, Tank Girl is a visual treat, if you dig it's style. This post apocalyptic world is eclectic and very out-there. Far from the all-too-serious setting of your average Mad Max movie, Tank Girl is bright and colorful. It finds uses for everything and then some. Our protagonist is as crazy as one has to be to survive in such a world.

  Of course, the villains are the government-like tyrannical types, sporting muted dark colors and hanging out in stainless steel lairs. As Tank Girl would say, "Boring!" But, at the same time, our villain is anything but boring.  Malcolm Mcdowell plays the main villain, Kesslee, and he's in full scenery chewing mode. He might not be playing a wholly original or engaging villain, nothing he couldn't play in his sleep- but it's Malcolm Mcdowell! As a bad guy! How could you complain? This is what this man was born to do! The rest of the cast is similarly great. Lori Petty is fantastic as Tank Girl. She perfectly embodies the character in my opinion. She's adorable, kick ass, and all around fun.

   I can understand how the relentless energy of the movie can actually wear on some people, but I was certainly never bored. I loved listening to Tank Girl talk, as if every conversation is moving 5x too slow for her. The movie clips along under the same kind of mentality. One second there's a massive shootout, the next- a song and dance number. All's normal for a movie like this! I can't say the tone of every scene or all the directorial choices director Rachel Talalay made clicked with me %100. They didn't. Some scenes were a bit too silly for me, some scenes lacked punch. I'm also not willing to write the whole movie off as a misfire because it's somewhat uneven. I see where there was a lot of studio interference, and that's sad because I can see what Talalay was trying to do.

   She might not have nailed Tank Girl completely, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It felt like a kid's movie for grown ups. Like a raunchy action-comedy with all the colors and eccentricities of a post-apocalyptic kid's show. It's wild, over the top, and lots of fun. It was a blast to watch on a boring Thursday night while I was being all nostalgic for old Blockbuster Video stores. Back in the day, this is the kind of movie I would've rented all the time. It packs in the action and laughs and doesn't give your attention a chance to wander. I feel like this movie fits right in with all my guilty pleasures from the 90's. A double feature of this and Judge Dredd would absolutely kill. The most important difference between the two movies? Tank Girl is actually funny, Judge Dredd is not.

  Tank Girl has if anything, an excess of personality. She's larger than life and in-your-face, and I loved it. I give the movie a solid thumbs up. Not, two thumbs up- just one. Like I said, it's not perfect and lacks a bit of focus as well as being sorely hacked up in post by the studio- but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. It's easily better than many comic book movies from the 90's, being a full grade above tripe like Spawn, Batman & Robin, Steel, and Captain America. It's more in line with Batman Forever, Darkman, and especially Mystery Men. If you're sweet on any of those movies (I know I am) you'll probably enjoy Tank Girl for what it is: a silly, over-the-top, comic book romp.

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