A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 307 – Megaforce

Megaforce – January 1st, 2011

I will admit, I am feeling burnt out. Maybe it was last night’s movie and the vast amounts of analysis on it that I’ve avoided reading. Maybe it’s that we’ve been at this for over 300 days without a break, even through PAX East and a late evening trip to the ER. We’re two months away from spending a year doing this and even then we’ll probably still have around 200 movies to go (I’m betting on us getting another fifteen to twenty movies between now and then). In some ways it’s more daunting to look at from here than it was when we started. There’s something about knowing just how much we’ve done and how much there still is to go.

But still! We have a movie to watch, and we had to pick something for New Year’s Day. Something to set the tone for the year. What better than something picked up out of the bargain bin at the video store we used to work at? Starring Persis Khambatta, Barry Bostwick and Henry Silva? Something that we thought was a retitling of the done-by-MST3K Warrior of the Lost World (which we do plan on purchasing) until we read the cast? Really, it’s perfect, for the same reason Sharks in Venice was perfect for our anniversary. Watching this, I cannot believe we own it and it doesn’t have some professional movie riffers providing commentary.

I should clarify that this movie really isn’t much like Warrior of the Lost World at all, aside from the super motorcycle and Persis Khambatta and general freedom fighters against fascists story. But only in general. In particular it’s about a couple of representatives of some foreign army going to find Megaforce, a secret mercenary group that fights for causes of freedom and whatnot, to hire them to help them fight the invading Duke Guerara. Where is this all happening? Who cares. It’s happening somewhere. Somewhere that needs help from Ace Hunter and his band of super soldiers.

We’re not entirely certain of the geography of this movie. It was all filmed in Nevada and it’s pretty obvious. It’s all desert. The names of the fictional countries at war are unclear (Sardoon and Golibia? Gomibia? Our VHS copy’s soundtrack just isn’t clear enough there for us to be sure) but we can be certain that they have desert! We just don’t know where that desert is. Not that it matters! They’re not really at war, though. The evil country is raiding the good country and blowing up their factories and kidnapping their people, but the good country can’t prove anything and can’t cross the border since that’ll be an overt act of war. So they call in Megaforce and Megaforce heads in and… all but crosses the border, which would be an overt act of war, so the whole thing gets called off after a skirmish and then there’s a flying motorcycle. I am not in any way simplifying things here. There’s a short battle with explosions, and then the good country’s military leaders show up and tell Ace Hunter that they’ll have to call it off so they don’t start a war. Megaforce has to carefully pull out in such a way that they don’t start a war or get ambushed by the bad guys and Ace Hunter ends up flying his motorcycle onto a plane to get out in time.

Oh, and Ace Hunter knows Duke Guerera. Obviously! They’re old buddies who are now enemies, apparently because of a stolen lighter? Who knows. Who cares! Henry Silva plays Guerera and chews scenery like his life depends on it. Henry Silva, for all your Henry Silva needs! Barry Bostwick plays Ace Hunter with a similar level of mastication and the two of them ham it up together, slapping each other’s backs and trading knowing barbs worthy of the best Toblerones. Silva, in particular, has some great “You magnificent bastard!” laughing moments at the end. It’s this bizarre high stakes friendly military rivalry. The whole second half of the movie is devoted to this odd set-up with the not-a-war and lots of explosions and mini rockets and flashy motorcycles and dune buggies and rainbow colored smoke screens. The first half of the movie, on the other hand. Oh, the first half of the movie.

The first half of the movie is the introduction of Megaforce. They’re a rather diverse group of elite soldiers living in a secret base in the desert (of course) with all sorts of high tech equipment. When we get there we meet Dallas, the cowboy comic relief (played by Michael Beck from The Warriors) and a number of other members of the group, all different ethnicities and possibly nationalities but I admit I never caught some of their shoulder flags – and I’ll get to the shoulder flags in a moment. One in particular made us grin as he’s played by Evan Kim, whom we know best from Kentucky Fried Movie. The Megaforce base has a huge hangar, lots of computers and also a classy restaurant with candlesticks and carpets. It’s so incredibly and hilariously over the top, it’s fantastic. It’s definitely a case of so bad it’s good, what with the cheese and effects and all.

Now, do I have some somewhat serious issues with the movie outside of the cheesy production values and script and the overwrought soundtrack and laughable effects? Yes, yes I do. It is a plot point that Hunter assumes Khambatta’s character, Major Zara, is totally useless and couldn’t possibly be combat trained. Of course she proves him wrong, in a lengthy montage of combat skill tests. And of course they apparently fall in love during said tests, as evidenced by the mid-air skydiving romance and the fact that even when he flat out tells her that he’s been wasting her time cause he’s not letting her come on the mission anyhow cause she’d be distracting, she’s all “Oh, I understand, cause you’re dreamy!” Whatever. It’s not like I expected gender equality here.

See, the thing is, I go into a movie like this expecting cheese. I expect a thoroughly ridiculous action movie full of stereotypes and unfunny comic relief and bad acting and stilted writing. And I don’t expect equality, as I said. But it’s like the movie went out of its way to kick me in the ovaries. I expect it’s horribly offensive in other ways too, what with the bad guy with the bad German accent and all. Oh, and there’s a Stargate sort of deal going on with all the Megaforce soldiers having their nation-of-origin’s flags on their shoulders (alas, while I could tell that some of them weren’t the USA flag I also couldn’t quite identify them in the quick glance I got), but the stereotypical cowboy, Dallas? He gets the Confederate flag. What do you even say to that?

I really wish that the sexism hadn’t been so blatant and that they’d left the flags off the uniforms because without them this would be a ridiculous but fun piece of 80s action cheese. With them, it’s frustrating. They’re little things in the grand scheme of the movie (the flags aren’t visible most of the time and the stuff with poor super competent but Y-chromosome-challenged Major Zara is done halfway through and does involve Zara kicking ass), but they leave a sour taste in my mouth. I want to love this utterly laughable movie without reservation in the way I love Sharks in Venice. But I can’t. I’ll have to ignore bits in order to love it. And I can! Because I’m willing to move past the offensive crap to embrace the cheesy crap. When a movie ends on the line “The good guys always win. Even in the Eighties!” I can cope with compartmentalizing the movie. So, even with my reservations, I’ve got to say this was the right movie to watch tonight. It was weird and ridiculous and fun, but I could also bitch about it a little, and thoroughly justifiably I believe. And it made me laugh. We own this. We own this movie and now we have watched it.

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January 1, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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