2.8 kids see cheap imitation of good space fantasy

Halifax Barometer
July 1978

Haligonians are regularly buttonholed by pollsters seeking thier opinions on all kinds of products from political parties to booze.

One of thes days surveyors will question local movie audiences as they line up outside a theatre:

“Good afternoon, sir, I’m with Mindless Movie Marketing. We’d like to ask you and your family a few questions. First, are you a regular movie-goer?”

“Yes, we’re typical nuclear family members trying to enliven our tawdry, lower0middle-class existance by taking in a few thrills on Saturday afternoon.”

“Then, as experienced movie fans, why are you taking your 2.8 children to see this show, a ceaep imitation of a successful space fantasy with only the barest thread of a plot, poor characterization and almost no violence?”

“Because, I’m a product of the TV generation and can barely read or write. But I am very visually sopohisticated and so are my illiterate kids.”

“Then you don’t care if the film offers penetrating insights inito the dynamics of the human condition through the director’s artistic use of dramatic devices or an actor’s sensitive interpretation of a leading character?”

“No, not particualrly. I just like to see lots of action. My kids don’t even care about that. All you have to do is flash a bunch of bright colors and play some rock music. That quietens ’em right down.”

“But what about sex and violence? Don’t you want orgies with whips and midgets?” Or how about someoby’s brains being mashed to a pulp?”
“Well that stuff is okay, but my favorite kind of violence is a bunch of shiny space ships blowing up in all different colors with great, big booming noises.”

“You like mostly colors, eh?”

“Yup. Red, green, blue– as long as they’re bright.”

“What about actors?”

“Only if they’re shiny.”

Most of the actors in Battlestar Galactica are shiny, especially the armour-plated villains. The heros are chocolate brown or burnt umber, the subdued hues denoting the seriousness of their roles.

Otherwise the whole show might have been filmed throug the tail-light lens of a 1957 Cadillac. The film sparkles. Novas glow like splintered rubies against a diamond-studded ebony background. Creamy white space jets with rally strips and smoking exhausts duel to the death while bloated, filigreed motherships with hulls of steely blue glide silently by. Pilots sweat into oxygen masks, their eyes rivetted on fluorescent green instrument panels flashing computerized drawings and terse messages like “situation critical.”

Inside the giant mothership are beautiful girls and handsome men, all clad in jumpsuits, running around and pushing buttons in frenzied panic as shiny alien beings destroy their fleet. Lorne Green gathers his metallic blue tunic with gold piping about him and grits his teeth.

This latest entry into the cosmic western genre is a poor imiatation of Star Wars. The acting is putrid for themost part, special effect are always unimaginative and so is the plot, which is bascially mankind fighting for its life while girl meets boy and boy meets dog. Still, thre’s no violence, unless you include whole planets being blown up, so you can take your 2.8 kids to the matinee without fear of traumatizing them for life.

The Disney show Hot Lead and Cold feet is far better fare if you’re looking for family entertainment. Before the main feature at the Penhorn Mall you’ll meed Thaddeus Toad of Wind in the Willows fame, a classic Disney cartoon short, that I first saw when I was ten years old. It rated four stars in my book then and still does. Toad gets clapped into prison after a romantic affair with one of the first motor cars and his friends conceive a daring raid to prove his innocence.

Unlike their cartoons, Disney films often reek of motherhood and apple pie values. Hot Lead is no exception. A pixi-like Salvation Army precher with two flaxen-haired children faces a rough and tumble battle with his own twin brother, a rowdy western gunslinger over his rich father’s estate. All ends happily as usual with the gunslinger converted, the town cleaned up and the do-gooder marrying the beautiful school teacher.

In the meantime we are treated to some very competent caricatures of life in a rough frontier town complete with devious plots and shady deals all aimed at undermining the preachers chances to win the contest.

If you’re still looking for family fun, don’t go to Redeemmer, the most mindlessly violent bore in years.

The story idea is good. A man gets revenge on his former school mates by inviting them to a high school reunion, locking them inside an abandoned building and exterminating them, one by one, with various imaginative and symbolic methods.

Now comes the stupid part. To achieve some sort of intellectual respectability, the vengeful killer is cast as a psychotic priest whose pulpit pounding ravings on sin provide the rationalization for his six murders. Adding this spiritual mumbo-jumbo to the film soups up the plot a bit and allows the director to fool around with his lights to create a supernatural atmosphere of doom and foreboding but is it’s dishonest. The portrait of a religious fanatic as a potential killer may be a legitimate interpretation but this film only creates a viscious sterotype to be exploited for its thrill value.

Despite the story idea and its numerous opportunities for suspense, the film is boring. One by one the victims die by their own swords ar at least the priests’ interpretations of their sins. Except for the painstakingly explicit blood and guts scenes, the show is repetitious.

Victimes are shot, stabbed, drowned and burned as the camera fastidiously records every detail including one close-up of a maggot-infested eye. It’s enough to make you swear off meat, church and pretentious movies. Not to mention class reunions.