A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 106 – Tank Girl

Tank Girl – June 14th, 2010

It’s 2033 and a comet has hit Earth, causing mass destruction and fucking everything up. But wait, why are we watching this? Because our copy of our last Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon movie, Apollo 13 is borked and won’t play in our DVD player, the XBox, or our computers. We tried to find a way to link from last night to something else and thence to Apollo 13 but our collection is lacking a couple of key items that would let us do that in fewer than a week’s worth of movies, which just doesn’t work for me. So we have to postpone that until tomorrow and do something else tonight. Why this? Why not? Neither of us have watched it in ages and it’s about where my brain’s at.

Back to the movie. It’s 2033, comet, destruction, now there’s no water and what little there actually is, is mostly controlled by a giant corporation, Water & Power, run by Malcom McDowell, who is a nasty little badass who likes to torture his minions. Tank Girl, played by Lori Petty, is a rebel who lives out in the desert of a post-apocalyptic Australia with her boyfriend and a bunch of other punk hippies, carefully guarding their well until McDowell’s goons bust up their house and kill everyone but Tank Girl and a little girl, Sam. So Tank Girl has to rescue Sam, obviously, and along the way meets up with an inventor/pilot/geeky girl, Jet, a bunch of kangaroo/human hybrids (one of whom is played by Ice T, who claims he’s a reincarnated cop – and this was before he was in Law & Order), and gets her eponymous tank. And then she makes a lot of wisecracks and blows shit up, usually at the same time.

It’s based on a comic book and it is very much a product of its time, which would be the late 80s and early/mid 90s. I owned the soundtrack when I was in high school and watching this now means I’m going to have to go break out the Portishead and Bjork. Of course, that’s just the nostalgia talking. This is really a weird little movie based on a weird comic created by one of the guys who went on to create Gorillaz. You can see the style in a few panels here and there in the movie. Because yes, the movie is peppered with stills that are either from the comics or were created for the movie but in the same style as the comics. And there are animations based on the comics too. It leads to things being bizarrely disjointed as we flip from live action to stills to animation and back to live action, and the voices are all still going and it’s clearly ADR. The camera work is all over the place, setting up shots to echo the comic panels and dancing around in a sort of ballet of jump cuts, zooms and focus pulls.

The movie is all over the place too. I mean, it has a plot, but it’s all really just an excuse to put Lori Petty in whacked out clothes and let her say clever things and hit people and get the better of them. There are obviously things that were supposed to play bigger roles in the movie, or I’d assume so because otherwise why put them in at all – like the Rippers (the kangaroo hybrids) and their creator, Johnny Prophet. There’s a revelation about him and it’s supposed to have some sort of emotional weight but it’s totally lacking given how little we’re lead to care about him beforehand. And then there’s the big song and dance routine to Cole Porter’s Let’s Do It, in a dance club/brothel called Liquid Silver (coincidentally, this movie was choreographed by none other than Adam Shankman, which instantly makes me love it more). And there’s all sorts of Tank Girl quirky punk stuff, like her bomb bra and when she parasails into an enemy base behind her remote operated tank. Which might or might not be semi-sentient.

I admit, in this one single paragraph I’m writing post-reading Andy’s review. He says he’ll leave it to me to talk about the gender dynamics and the like and to be honest, I wasn’t going to. Largely because Tank Girl is such a product of a time period I wasn’t really part of. I mean, by the time the movie came out, yes, I was a teenager. But that late 80s punk thing it’s got going? The Riot Grrl stuff? I’m post-punk and I was too much of a good girl to ever do more towards the Riot Grrl scene than read about it in Sassy. This isn’t my sexual revolution. And I feel like my criticism of some of it might be read as devaluing it to those whom it spoke to. That being said, we are talking about a female character who uses sex as a weapon (or rather, the promise of sex) who was created by a man. Yes, Tank Girl in the movie is all in everyone’s face about sex, but then there’s the scene with the Rippers which is supposed to read as fun, since we’re supposed to like them, but which made me a little uncomfortable. To be honest, it’s not Tank Girl that bugs me. She’s got things well in hand (haha, hand!). It’s Jet. Who’s presented in the movie as a meek little geek who really doesn’t want to get dry-humped by one of the kangaroo guys but awkwardly lets him do his thing even though she’d rather not cause Tank Girl’s having a good time! And then yay, that was fun! It reads unpleasantly to me, but that’s just me and your mileage might vary by quite a lot. It’s not enough to make me dislike the movie. Not at all. It’s just very strange to me given how empowered and empowering Tank Girl herself is for the rest of the movie. But then, I should know better than to expect consistency or coherence from this.

One does not watch this movie for coherence or for plot. One watches this movie for the spectacle and the ass kicking and the smart assery. Because while coherence and plot are as hard to find as water in the movie’s world, the rest is in amusingly plentiful supply.

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June 14, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , ,

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