Maleficent is Disney playing around with being Disney, and it’s pretty impressive. They manage to maintain a good sense of what they have always been good at, little white princesses, whilst also managing to tie a new story around a very old one in a somewhat unexpected, but at the same time entirely predictable way. It’s a story of revenge gone awry really. I am not sure how the actual sleeping beauty fable ends, because I am a boy, but I am pretty sure this veers way off it at points. All the better for it really, the prince awakening the sleeping princess with a kiss always was rather vapid, and somewhat rapey. The movie looks very pretty indeed, there are all sorts of interesting creatures inhabiting its magical world, and whilst some very much fall into the “can’t wait to sell millions of these as soft toys” category, there are some that have a far more ethereal quality. There is probably some complex allegory in the film about losing one’s freedom and how one goes about living their life in the face of the abjectly careless world we live in, but it’s buried so deep it’s probably better to assume it is invisible. It’s a good re-working, it’s not going to make you change your whole world view, but it might make you re-consider your position when you next get dumped and someone tries to destroy your magical kingdom.
To celebrate my 200th post here at every film I have rented I decided to write about a film so obscure that I cant actually find any reference to it on the internet. Thats right, the whole internet is oblivious to this film. It turns out “Revenge” is one of the most common film names ever, which rather clouds google results, but even the director doesn’t have an IMDB page – though, like a fart in crowded room, this might be one of those things no one wants to own up to. Just in case you do want to track this down, it was released in 1988 – that is all I can tell you, how the dvd came to be sent to me I have no idea, I certainly wouldn’t choose it based on its spectacular cover art or the catchy tag line “In time of peace … prepare for war” – which is not only gramatically wonky but also has barely anything to do with the film. There has been a lot of talk of virtual reality of late. If you sit really really close to the tv, I mean, exceptionally close (this isn’t widescreen) this film offers a completely immersive 1980s experience. You’ll be telling your friends “I felt like I was there!” and “I wanted to reach out and touch their hair”. Its honestly like the 80s took a shit and this film came out. That is to say, its a bad film in almost every respect. The plot revolves around some bad guys called “Strike Force!”, led by, fittingly, a bad guy called “Striker”. These shady guys are are kidnapping folks from the NSI, a weapons company that has over six employees and one security guard. The NSI has made a weapon that gives one man the power of an entire platoon, which one assumes is why they only needed one security guard. Strike Force, I think, want to get their hands on the weapon for various nefarious reasons which seem to be ‘another’ civil war or a revolution, depending how they feel. I say I think this is what they want because they seem to have access to said weapon an awful lot of the time, and dont do a great job of taking it. The worst part is where the money comes from, they are funded by, get this: The Klan, and The American Nazi Party. I mean. Come on. Dont mess with those guys, they are clearly well funded assholes. It is ok though, Jason is on hand to kill the bad guys and save the day. If that plot doesn’t sound like it quite cuts it there are a few extra layers of complexity, the Revenge of the title is for a number of wrongdoings by the Strike Force, one of which is actually pretty horrible and completely incongruous in such a ridiculous plot, and the fact that Jason is a Vietnam vet. It turns out that a number of his old platoon still live in his area, cos this is how the army worked in the 60s and 70s you know. This leads to some of thebest lines of the film as old army buddies exchange classics like “just one more mission man” and “kill as many as possible then leave”, by classic I mean hilarious, and by hilarious I mean absolutely shockingly bad. The film clearly wants to be Rambo so bad that it can’t even help not admitting it, at one point Jason, about to do some killin or something is told “You’re not Rambo”. Damn straight he isn’t, Rambo wouldnt have had a catch phrase, and even if he did it wouldn’t have been “Oh Fuckit”. Seriously. Also the hero brings a kitten home half way through. I have written before about how all the 80s Stallone movies feature kittens, I thought no one else had noticed! There are some really long lingering shots of the kitten. There is a completely predictable twist at the end followed by what has to be the greatest walk off camera ever by the hero. The ‘so bad its good’ aspect of all this is made so much sweeter by the complete lack of self awareness here, which when you think about it was what the 80s was all about.