Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tank Girl (1995) Netflix

Pictured: 'Tank' and 'Girl'
Rating: 4 out of 5 Self Aware Tanks Fighting Evil Corporations

Plot Synopsis:  Well, there’s this tank… and there’s this girl… and well they come together…

The Good(+), The Bad (-), The Ugly (~):
+ Good music and nice art in the opening.  So very 90’s.

- How does the laser crosshair appear even before the gun comes out?  Is it one of those fancy future laser sights?  No flying cars but they got magic laser sights.

+ They do a pretty good job foreshadowing the Rippers as a badass group of killers.  The foreshadowing borders on Bat-Signaling during the comic interstitial but it all still works.

+ Malcom McDowell brings his A-game to everything.  I’m hard pressed to think of a role he slept through and this is no different.  He does an excellent job bringing the cold, bastardly head of Water and Power to life.

+ I do like the world building, it very swiftly establishes a cold-blooded, desperate world.  The endless sand dunes at the beginning, the remnants of the Ripper attack, Malcom’s water speech.  They also really drive home how valuable the water is by the fact their drinking water instead of champagne and the fact that their willing to kill a person to harvest their water.  I don’t mean, like, water they have on their person, but like the water INSIDE their person.  Malcom fatally dehydrates somebody to get their water.

+ I like Tank Girl.  I’ve always had a 90’s crush on Lori Petty.  She’s just great in everything and I can’t imagine a better Tank Girl.  I don’t think there’s anyone else who could pull the role off.  It’s kind of sad that movie making was so far behind Tank Girl that the industry couldn’t pull it off properly but it was the only time period this movie could have gotten made and Lori Petty is the only actress that could play the lead.

+ There’s a fantastic punk/alternative soundtrack.


+ In reading about this movie I learned that the comic interstitials were an attempt to salvage an otherwise incomprehensible movie, because they legit forgot to film scenes, but I like them.  They’re well done by the original artist of Tank Girl, Jaime Hewlett (also co-founder of the Gorillaz) and they add to the manic feel of the movie.  Maybe it’s due to how many times I’ve seen the movie but I don’t really find them that jarring or detracting.

+ Tank Girl is totally badass.  Yes the character isn’t terrible subtle or original but she manages to work in the 90’s Riot Grrl stereotype.  They don’t play up her sexuality too much, there are moments where it feels they are focusing on her sexuality but for the most part they let the character be who she is.  Which incredibly smart ass and fearless.

+ Naomi Watts is pretty great as Jet Girl.

- The old powder shower.  It seems ridiculous, and it is, but when I was a watchmaker I would read about how they used clean watches with sawdust.  It was a time consuming and tedious process but you could actually strip all the oils and nastiness off a watch using fine sawdust.

+ I really like the dynamic and chemistry between Tank Girl and Jet Girl.

+ Stan Winston did a great job on the Rippers, when they’re armored they look downright deadly and out of armor they look pretty convincing… as humanoid kangaroos.  Also I love the use of a didgeridoo in all the Ripper music.  Because they’re kangaroos… and kangaroos are Australian.

- There is an acid drenched animation interstitial that could totally break the tone of the movie.  If you were too attached to traditional filmmaking.  This movie isn’t traditional in any sense of the word.  If you are looking for a ‘normal’ movie then you will be greatly disappointed.  The IP wasn’t a ‘normal’ comic so there wasn’t a ‘normal’ movie you could get out of it.  But using normal movie theory here then yes, this breaks the movie.

- “No that’s not what I meant when I said ‘glass half empty’!  I didn’t mean you should killer her!”

+ Hey!  It’s Iggy Pop!  He’s playing a pedophile…

-  I will admit that the movie grinds to a halt when we get to Liquid Silver.  It provides some decent character moments but as far as working towards telling an overall story or continuing a narrative it doesn’t really serve a purpose.  It does fit into the dreamlike, manic nature of the text but doesn’t do much for me otherwise.  In other places of the movie I think the random parts work to the movies advantage but here it falls flat.

- And our protagonists escape using a racist love song.

+ Ice-T was born to play a bad-ass kangaroo.

+ Jeff Kober was born to play a dumb-ass kangaroo.

- There’s also a kangaroo that, I think, attempts to sexually assault Tank Girl and Jet Girl.

+ There’s a pretty decent sequence of Tank and Jet hijacking an arms shipment for the Rippers.

- How do the Rippers get t-shirts over their giant heads?

+ Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Claw.

~ Oop, saw a wire on one of the Rippers.

+ Snap, YOU’VE been working for Water and Power the whole time!


+ The final battle and climax are only alright, a little light on the action but it does its job.

- The big bad gets taken out by a beer and a bucket of water.

Final Thoughts:  This movie always reminds me of Mallrats and Street Fighter the movie.  They were all out in the same ‘era’ of filmmaking.  They kind of ‘look’ the same in tone, color scheme and feel and I associate all of them with my adolescence.  It’s one of those movies you’d rent with your friends because your parents were getting movies for a sleep over and you didn’t plan on paying all that much attention to it anyway.  It drips with visual appeal, bright lights and loud noises.  But that doesn’t take anything away from the movie.

                I like the movie personally.  It just doesn’t something for me.  I like the dense, rich world that you only get pieces of.  I like the characters as 2 dimensional as they may be.  I don’t think they’re 1 dimensional by any means but so much of everyone’s character is defined by cliché that it’s hard to view them as incredibly deep portrayals.  That being said everyone is on point.  The acting is really solid with good performances put in by Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T, Malcolm McDowell and the Jack Kerouac Kangaroo. 

This isn’t your typical 3 act Mission: Impossible action movie.  It doesn’t follow the rules and, I feel, most of the time it works to the movies benefit.  Granted it also narrows the movies focus down incredibly.  The average person isn’t going to find a whole lot to like about the movie.  Despite my own personal enjoyment of the movie the tone is uneven, the plot is confusing and the pacing is a little off.  I love the movie despite that but if you aren’t ready for a different experience, something a little more freeform, experimental and surreal then you might have trouble getting into it as well.  If you’re open minded and ready to take the movie for what it is rather than what you think it should be then you’ll probably enjoy it as much as I did.

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