Retro Film Review: Tank Girl (1995)

in aaa •  8 days ago 


Good literature usually results with bad movies and vice versa. Same thing can be said about comic books. There are plenty of fine pieces of the Ninth Art that were ruined whenever someone tried to put them on the big screen. And there are bad comic books that could be adapted into good films. One of such examples is Tank Girl, directed in 1995 by Rachel Talalay. It was originally based on British comic book by Alan Martin and Jamey Hewlett – work that didn't left much impression on the author of this review. So I expected very little of this film, especially after hearing the expert opinion that those two artists had probably been under influence while making those comic books.

The plot of the film is set in year 2033 AD. The Earth has been struck by a comet and the catastrophe disrupted the eco-system, turning the planet into one huge desert. There wasn't any rain in last eleven years and the precious water is held by Water & Power Corporation, headed by tyrannical Keslee (played by Malcolm McDowell). Few freedom loving people, including the movie's heroine Rebecca (played by Lori Petty) live in isolated communities. One day Rebecca's people are murdered by W&P thugs and Rebecca is brought to Keslee who wants to use her martial skills to solve huge problems - Rippers, genetically engineered crossbreed of human and kangaroos, who roam the desert and massacre W&P troops. Rebecca, instead of co-operating with tyrant, decides to use Rippers' help to fight him. She escapes W&P compound and steals tank, helped by Jet Girl (played by Naomi Watts).

Critics massacred Tank Girl after its original release, probably because director Rachel Talalay failed their expectations and didn't deliver some serious pseudo-feminist futuristic action piece. Instead this film is pure camp. Instead of characters, this film features one-dimensional caricatures (especially the crazed villain, played for the umpteenth time by Malcolm McDowell); instead of using CGI or anything resembling realistic locations, this film doesn't hide the fact that it was made in the studio. The plot is almost non-existent and every time things slow down, Talalay brings few usually unrelated animated sequences or pictures taken from the original comic book. More efforts were invested in the soundtrack, which features strange combination of contemporary alternative rock and Cole Porter (the latter provides charming little song and dance number). As a result, Tank Girl is one of such movies that simply can't be enjoyed if they are taken a little bit seriously. Quality of jokes might leave something to be desired, Ice T can't be recognised under Ripper make-up and Lori Petty tries too hard to be another Madonna, but in general Tank Girl represents something of a rarity in modern Hollywood – film which is unique and funny in the same time.

RATING: 6/10 (++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on November 25th 2002)


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Critic: AA

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I always avoided this movie because when it was released I thought it looked dumb. However, now that we are all trapped indoors it might be time to give it a go :)