Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Deathstalker III: The Warriors From Hell

   Argh! More than just bad sound effects and a amazingly generic set up (in stark contrast to the whole concept of clones in the previous movie) Deathstalker faces his worst foe yet: bland filmmaking. Falling prey to a host of fresh issues to the franchise, this movie is pretty darn bad, and it's positive aspects never really catch up to the rest of it. It doesn't backfire onto itself quite the way that say... Captain America (1990) did. Yet, it's inept in all the ways the previous films weren't. Or... wait, rather, they're more inept in the same things, or... something. For some damn reason... Deathstalker III just... isn't much fun.

   It's really odd because the acting is better. Better than any we've seen in the franchise so far. Which is not much of a compliment. Saying Deathstalker III has the best acting in the franchise is like saying it has better sword fights than Sex and the City.  It's a really crappy consolation prize. These movies are bad, all of them. But 1 and 2 managed to be really fun despite that. Deathstalker III isn't horrible like some people have said it is, I mean, I've still seen movies more inept than this. Captain America is looking more and more like the perfect ruler by which to measure bad movies. Does the hero actually fight the villains? If yes, it's automatically better than Captain America.

   There's horse chases, sword fights, and probably more sorcery than the last two movies combined, but... the villain looks like an orthodontist. He's bald, but still hanging onto the hair on the sides. If he shaved it all off, he might've had an Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) look, because the character is a sorcerer after all. Unfortunately no amount of melodrama or scenery chewing saves his character from sticking out like a sore thumb. He never seems evil, or even vaguely bad. He just seems like a guy potentially having a midlife crisis. He's the real victim here! Everyone keeps meddling with his dastardly plans! Cut the guy a break, or at least help him cut his hair.

   The badness doesn't stop there... Deathstalker III has a hero that looks vaguely like Dennis Quaid or Kevin Costner. He's still more Robin Hood than Conan. The name Deathstalker fit actor Rick Hill's portrayal of the character in the first movie. He was like a big, meathead, douchebag, barbarian. All muscles, no brain. John Terlesky's Deathstalker in the sequel was charming enough that the movie got away with it by poking fun at his very un-barbarian-like look, and having characters say his name in disbelief. Like, seriously? You're calling this guy "Deathstalker"? Get real. But Deathstalker III (God, I'm getting tired of saying Deathstalker) isn't witty or funny enough to pull that off. It's sense of humor is almost nonexistent.

   You can see moments where they were trying to be funny, but it literally never works. Not one single joke. It doesn't help that the action looks crappy either. I mean, the series hasn't been a paragon of quality thus far- with reused footage, and the worst stabbing effects ever, but Deathstalker III takes it to Ed Wood depths, and keeps falling. In one scene, a character stabs another guy, and the camera slowly pans around them completely, presumably to show us that the sword isn't just tucked under the guy's arm, but the whole tedious effect is ruined because seconds later we can clearly see that it's just a cut prop sword. In another scene, an Eagle flies overhead and caws, but it sounds like an asthmatic squeaky toy getting autotuned. I guess some people find this stuff hilarious, and I might have as well I was riffing on it with friends, or was just drunk, but I watched Deathstalker III alone, and sober.

   Which might be the worst problem with the movie, and it wasn't even a problem with the movie. Alcohol, and copious amounts of it, was absolutely required. To be fair, it seems nobody told John Allen Nelson, playing the eponymous title role, that he was in a bad movie. He seems to be trying to act as well as possible, and bless his heart you can tell. But, it makes it awkward when the movie around him is falling apart (literally) and he's taking his crappy dialog seriously. Rather than being a sole highlight, he's just one more thing that's sticking out like a sore thumb. You can't play these scenes straight-faced, you shouldn't. Yet he does, and it's painful.

   The true sole highlight of the movie is a wizard character who's name I can't be bothered to look up on IMDb. I was amused at how much he resembled someone cosplaying as Alan Moore, which means he actually looked like he belonged in the movie more than anyone else did. Certainly more than distraught orthodontist, or not-Dennis Costner. As a sword & sorcery flick, it is serviceable provided you know what you're getting into. Once you've penetrated the depths of bad barbarian movies, you know there is no 'good'. Only fun, or badder. Deathstalker III has some colorful sets, maybe one or two stunts that looked convincing, boobs, tavern scenes, some sorcery nonsense, and plenty of smug smirks and melodrama.

   If you're looking for anything more than that... you've come to the wrong place. I didn't really care for this one, nor did I hate it. It's stale, and bland. Skippable, but tolerable if you plan to multitask it with a video game or some casual facebook browsing.

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