Sunday, March 27, 2005

Silly Sunday Cinema #1: "Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe"

I get pretty bored on Sundays. It's a slow day, filled with the impending arrival of Monday. I should probably go outside or do something productive, but instead I have chosen to watch silly movies that get ignored by 99.99% of the population. You know, those movies you often see at the video store and wonder how in the hell they ever got made? Each film will carry an FSB rating (max = 5 FSBs). What is an FSB, you ask? Click here. The more horrible the movie, the higher the FSB rating. I guess you never know, I may just stumble onto a jewel - but probably not. So welcome to my first installment of "Silly Sunday Cinema". Enjoy.

Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe (1991)

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Written and Directed by: Damian Lee
Starring: Jesse "The Rock" Ventura, Sven-Ole Thorsen, and Marjorie Bransfield (featuring an appearance by James Belushi in order to support his then-wife, Marjorie, which I'm guessing didn't quite work out as planned judging from her non-existent career after this movie)
More information, for those who actually care, can be found at IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, or you can watch the unbelievably crappy trailer.

Let me start out by saying that I actually did not rent this movie, but did indeed buy it for a whopping $1.50 at the local Sav-On (which means it's one of those "public domain" thingies that doesn't use the original cover art and has probably cut a little bit out - but fuck it. I mean, am I really gonna miss 15 more minutes of utter shite?). Cheaper than renting, and I can use it as a coaster when I'm done.

Synopsis (from the back of the DVD): "Jesse 'The Body' Ventura stars in this space-action thriller, where two superpowerd, alien beings fight it out for the destiny of the universe! Will Earth be saved or destroyed!?... A special guest appearance by James Belushi."

Here's what I gathered from viewing the film: These "alien beings" look JUST like humans, even to the point that they have fingerprints (although they are "alien" fingerprints of course). They are intergalactic cops called "Finders" who have lived for over 10,000 years and have to keep undergoing a process referred to as "balding" (or maybe "valding"?), which re-makes them or repairs them or something. We soon find out, in a completely unique plot twist, that these mortal enemies were at one time partners. The one played by Sven-Ole Thorsen (named Secundus) has "gone renegade", and is looking to impregnate a woman by placing his glowing hand on her abdomen for 5 seconds, after which she will give birth to a cute and cuddly baby boy in a matter of 2 minutes flat. This baby is called the "co-mater" (or maybe it was "co-mader" - couldn't quite tell due to the horrible dubbing quality), and carries the "anti-life equation" in his brain. Apparently the anti-life equation causes pre-pubescent boys to wet themselves and is also known to impart powers of spontaneous combustion to the holder. I'm not exactly sure why or how this equation is expected to destroy the universe, and it is never explained, much to my chagrin. I doubt even the writers know - it's one of those infinite mysteries that I will just have to accept and move on. Never-the-less, its existence causes Governor Ventura (AKA Abraxas) to hunt Secundus down and many running-through-the-forest, flying-off-the-top-of-moving-vehicles, slo-mo-punching-with-sweat-flying, explosions-caused-by-state-of-the-art-laser-guns shenanigans ensue, all set to the backdrop of melodious Kenny G-like sax playing (interesting choice of soundtrack, to say the least). Oh, and in the meantime, Abraxas falls in love with the mother of the co-mater (AKA Jim Belushi's ex-wife), as if we couldn't see THAT coming from a mile away. This means that he decides that he cannot go through with his orders (which were to kill the co-mater but to spare Secundus, as all Finders take a vow to never kill another Finder - let me stress that it is established early on, and then repeated throughout, that these orders are CRITICAL and that he will be severely punished if he disobeys them). So what happens? He kills Secundus and spares the co-mater, who still retains the anti-life equation of course, and everyone laughs and says good job. A big "WTF??" to that.

Every action movie staple is exploited in the storytelling process (if you can even call it that): A couple making out in the car. The boy not being able to start the car, but Secundus have no problem whatsoever after he dispatches said boy. A needlessly complicated plot, to the extreme. The requisite strip-club scene and shower scene. Incredibly dumb one-liners. Cheesy voice-overs. Chase scenes - and more chase scenes - and more chase scenes- too bad they are incredibly boring and have HORRIBLE special effects. That's another thing - this movie was release in 1991. Well, it must've had a budget of, let's see - ZERO. And at one point a character says, "Can I stay over and watch the TV set?" I have two questions: 1) Was there a person in America in 1991 (who wasn't homeless) who didn't have a television?? - and - 2) Who the hell calls it "the TV set"???

It also has some downright hideous comedy (some of which is delivered by Belushi during his approximately 2 seconds of screen time as a school principal): At one point one of the minor characters tells the other that he should come over for Thanksgiving. "What are you having?", asks one. "Turkey!" replies the other. "Free range?" questions the first. "No, I paid for it." *crickets chirping*

Favorite lines:

"How long before he hits critical mass?"

"Now he's an uncontrollable malcontent. He should have been terminated."

"Are you a birthing member of the human race? I need your body."

"We're still experiencing warp malfunctioning at sector height."

"Have you ever been balded? Let me tell you it's not very pleasant. It involves reinforcing of skeletal and muscle structures by short-wave irradiation and ozone layering to 0.23. Very painful."

- And the best -

A naked Abraxas sitting in bed to the 5-year-old co-mater: "Wanna sit up here with me? I'll tell you a story. It's about two grown men who were partners..." (Tell me, how does something like this make it through the editing process?)

There is one part of the movie that I liked and found slightly amusing - that is, something which was intended to be amusing (I found myself laughing through much of the film, but I somehow doubt that that's what the writer/director had intended for me to be doing). This slightly amusing bit was Abraxas' interaction with his "answer box". The answer box seems to be a little bit like the Hitchhiker's Guide - it will give you the definition of anything in the universe if you ask it. Unlike the HG, it also gives you opinions and orders. And it's female so it gets jealous.

This is how I'd sum this movie up: "The Terminator" meets "Flash Gordon" meets "Die Hard", which had some potential on the writing block but was ruined by over-seriousness, horrible plot points, distracting music, and cheesy special effects (if you can't manage to do them right, don't do them at all!). I would like to know who funded the making of this movie, so I can ask him for money because he quite obviously has more than he knows what to do with.

I give it 4 1/2 FSBs. Avoid it unless you have watched pretty much everything else from Netflix.

Until tomorrow...

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