Monday, May 3, 2010

Skate Punks of the Desert

Solarbabies (1986)

You don’t review a movie like Solarbabies, you simply tolerate it until the end credits roll.

“A Brooksfilm Production” -- Mel Brooks produced this dreck!

This movie wastes no time in assaulting its audience with a lousy Maurice Jarre Casio score (it truly sounds like the theme was done on one of those cheap keyboards you can buy at Target).

We get one of those lame voiceover prologues that explain the “year is 41…Earth is dried up…kids are raised in “orphanages” run by the State…and some say Bodhi will come from the stars* to save us…maybe not.” Charles Durning, our prologue provider, actually says “maybe not.” Way to inspire the audience, movie!

* In this movie, Jesus is a glowing ball. Ooooo.

I had forgotten Solarbabies involved rollerskating. Did Mel Brooks watch the brutal Rollerball one night and think, “We should do a new version of this idea, but using the young kids today.” Rollerskating movies should be outlawed, especially sci-fi rollerskating movies. Rollerskating movies should only be set in the 1970s and made with hot chicks wearing tight t-shirts and short shorts. They should not be made with Jason Patric and Lukas Haas (and Jami Gertz doesn’t even wear short shorts).

I bring up the rollerskating thing because this stupid movie launches into one right away. Jason Patric (WHY does he have a career?) leads his intrepid band of goofballs in a very dull rollerskating skirmish against a Darth Vader-esque team lead by a dude who looks like James Van der Beek from Dawson’s Creek. This very boring “match” is interrupted by laser bolts and Richard Jordan who is strutting around in a thick-plastic blue SS-type uniform (Nazi fashions are always in style in water-desperate times). He’s behind the Dawson’s Creek team and he sics the Mad Max Brigade on the kids to break up these good times.

Lukas Haas and his ears find a glowing melon-sized ball in a mine cave and it magically cures his deafness. This is Bodhi (Bo-die). Despite its magic powers, it doesn’t make you want to straggle Haas any less (Lukas was great in Witness but he’s just TOO cute here).

Lukas has as much junk and shit on his shelves as WALL-E did.

Richard Jordan has jodhpurs AND a riding crop AND a long white scarf. Good grief.

All the young dudes in this movie have the same MASSIVE chin. Was there a sale or something?

Bodhi just magically caused it to rain…INDOORS. Now the hangar doors open and all the kids do an “all skate” for recreation. All that missing is the disco ball and a corner arcade with Pong and the one older dude selling pot. James Van der Mullet is a huge asshole, picking on little Lukas and licking on Jamie Gertz. Even in the future, mulleted dudes are creeps.

Bodhi seems to be a combination of Yoda, all wise and knowing, AND Jar Jar Binks, all cutesy and goofy. George Lucas is green with envy.

WHY is one guy named METRON? Aside from the fact one of the screenwriters must be a fan of Jack Kirby’s The New Gods. Now they’re playing rollerhockey or whatever, using Bodhi as the ball. The thing LIKES being smacked around and dunked. It’s into S&M.

Meanwhile Owlboy is watching….AND HE’S AN ORB THIEF!

Lukas has run away to find Bodhi and the gang votes to go after him (the scene where they write their votes on paper was CRUCIAL to the movie’s story). Good thing the desert is so well-paved for rollerskating. Jamie Gertz has legs as skinny as a Barbie doll’s. This is not a good thing, but it does not make her any less hot.

The crappy generic 80s song over the skating in the desert montage was mercifully brief. I’m sorry but they COULD NOT jump over that huge gap in the road. Not on roller skates, movie, and not without a huge ramp.

Suddenly, the fashions look more like Beastmaster than Mad Max.

Owlboy calls himself “Darkstar.” What a turd. But he has my favorite line of the movie. When asked, “Is that owl yours” he replies, “As much as an owl is anyone’s.” Heavy.

They just lasered Beastmaster tribe leader Bob Geldof! James Van der Chin just shot Darkstar’s owl with a laser. Big brother Woodsy Owl will avenge the shit out of him now.

Now Richard Jordan’s caravan is rolling up on Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s place. Holy crap, Bob Geldof is being tortured by psychic fire ants! OMG, but that was needlessly graphic (Van der Chin was made to imagine his hand being eaten away by the fire ants. VERY convincing effect.)

This must have been one expensive movie, with all the massive interior sets and places like Tire Town (which looks like it’s just down the way from Aunty Entity’s Bartertown), Richard Edlund’s visual effects and all the special vehicles. Too bad it’s all in service to such a stupid story.

Roll yourself down the hill in a dump truck tire to escape Richard Jordan! What a great idea!

Dear lord, there’s another 40 minutes to go on this bad boy. Even skipping the commercials that leaves a lot of dull, dull crap to sit through.

Sarah Douglas does not look as hot as she did as Ursa in Superman: The Movie or even as the evil whatsitz in Conan the Destroyer. Here she just looks a touch too matronly. Also the GIANT shoulder pads don’t work for her.

Uh oh, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s nabbed Jason Patric and the rollerboiz! And Jami Gertz is now sporting the Lawrence of Arabia look from Eddie Bauer.

Jami Gertz’s pops is named Greentree? And he looks like Jesus if Jesus were a country/western singer? Weird.

Sarah Douglas and Richard Jordan are shootin’ lasers at poor Bodhi. It’s making sad noises, which sound like Frank Welker making cutesy sound effects.

All these skinny-ass kids rollerskating up to the bad guys’ lair is not inspiring, it’s stupid. What the hell – Sarah D’s got something called Terminak: it’s a weird multi-armed robot thing. It’s like Dr. Octopus meets 2-IB. It looks more stupid that cool.

The Doberman guard dogs have little lights on their heads. So cute.

Darkstar was in a cell…with his skates on? How convenient.


Now Terminak’s got a “crush” on Richard Jordan’s arm.

Bodhi just transformed from a ball into a sparkly animated stream of unicorns and rainbows. Is there NOTHINg this cute ball of awesome can’t do?


Great Richard Edlund dam breaking effects. Gotta love miniatures. And cloud tank effects. Too bad it’s all backed by a Casio-score.

Bodhi transformed himself into midichlorians, danced around the kids, brought on some thunder clouds, and is now rocketing OUT of the earth’s atmosphere. Thank you strange orb from another planet!

E.T told Elliot that he’d always be “right here” and so this movie just decided to rip that line off too because it has no shame.

Wait a sec, Bodhi can turn into magic dust but he can't get away from Owlboy? And if it can make it rain, why didn't it just do that right at the beginning of the movie? Why does he wait to get orb-napped and tortured first, if all it needs is Lukas' "lurve" - which he had at the start - to make him shed a rainy tear or two million?

Magic schmagic, this is the WORST kind of fantasy writing.

End movie with Smokey Robinson tune, because, why not.

Here's something that occurred to me, but obviously NONE of the filmmakers: you have a bunch of rollerskating kids, and you even started your movie with those kids in a rollerhockey battle with other skate punks, you would assume that the final skirmish in the last act of the movie would involve a rollerskating match, face-off or something. NOPE. True, the kids roll on up to the bad guys' lair, but that it. Your stupid movie is all about rollerskating kids and rollerskating doesn't even figure into their winning the day (Bodhi does that all for them), so why make a rollerskating movie at all. That's like having a boxing movie and the boxers face off at the end over a leisurely game of backgammon!

What a great big freaking crock of roller-shit.

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