Starring: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Don Harvey, Malcolm McDowell, Jeff Kober, Reg E. Cathey, Scott Coffey
Directed By: Rachel Talalay
Written By: Tedi Sarafian
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 44 min
It’s funny how some people like to complain about the current glut of comic book inspired films in our theater’s these days. When I just re-watched Tank Girl, one of three comic book adaptations released in 1995. The critical and financial dud, Judge Dredd, and the successful, yet incredibly challenged Batman Forever, being the other two.
Tank Girl on the other hand, based on a British comic created by Jamie Hewlett* and Alan Martin, falls into the critical flop, which later became a cult favorite, category. As I guess some folks felt it reached that elusive, ‘so bad it’s good’ quality level.
Tank Girl the comic was heavily influenced by punk art, and worked more like a stream of manic consciousness rather than a straight up three act narrative. It was raw, sexual (with human/kangaroo hybrids no less), violent, and most certainly NOT FOR KIDS! And while the movie to some degree attempts to faithfully adapt that for moviegoers. Even going so far as to frequently splash pages from the comic on the screen. The need to honor the source material, and deliver a product that could entertain an audience broader than the relatively small fan base – results in a less than successful film.
Lori Petty certainly looks the part, and absolutely throws herself into the role. She’s manic, sweet, funny, yet still credible as a protagonist that could playfully kiss you on the cheek, right before using her tank to blow your head off! The visual effects are decent and have aged well, and the makeup effects are still impressive.
At every turn however, the film is let down by poor plotting, and dull action sequences. Malcolm McDowell is also given very little to work with here, and the result is your basic cookie-cutter two-dimensional villain. As a film, the plot is pretty much nonsensical, and often takes bizarre contrived illogical leaps in order introduce new characters, and give the audience its grand finale.
In all honestly, this film should never have been green lit, because I don’t think the source material would ever translate well for movie going audiences. Of course, I’ll be quite happy if a truly visionary director/writer came along and proved me wrong. Maybe Baz Luhrmann? Applying the same methods he used for Romeo + Juliet (thoughts?) Or perhaps this would work better as a purely animated piece?
* Jamie Hewlett co-created Gorillaz with Damon Albarn (Blur).
This is quite manic, and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Expect crazy leaps in logic, the occasional sparkle in the dialog, and a fun performance from Lori Petty. The movie is rated R for language, violence and nudity.
Visually, this never feels like it left the sound stage, so a HDTV screening at home with friends and (if you’re old enough) alcohol will help you get the most enjoyment out of this film.
Best Moment: << spoiler >>
Tank Girl gets the upper-hand in a fight with Kesslee (Malcom McDowell), and the following dialog is fun, and just so cute!
“Oh I’m so pretty! Oh, I’m gonna hit you so hard, your children will be born bruised! Pow pow pow!”