A truly mad concoction, blending 1950s juvenile delinquents, sci-fi melodrama, song-and-dance, and a touch of horror, everything in just the right combination to create an engaging big ...
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A truly mad concoction, blending 1950s juvenile delinquents, sci-fi melodrama, song-and-dance, and a touch of horror, everything in just the right combination to create an engaging big screen spectacle! This curious and curiously entertaining story involves one Jonathan Xavier and his devoted misfit gang who, incidentally, have been exiled to Earth from the far reaches of outer space. Johnny's former girlfriend Bliss has left him and stolen his Resurrection Suit, a cosmic, mind-bending uniform that gives the owner power over others. Along the way, there will be several highly stylized musical numbers, lots of genuinely humorous dialogue, and a wacky plot-twist or two, all beautifully captured on the very last of Kodak's black-and-white Plus-X film stock. Written by
Anthony Craig Gilbert
There are a lot of issues with this oddball movie, but the first thing that should be mentioned in any review of it is the wonderful performance of De Anna Joy Brooks, who pretty much single-handedly makes this movie kind of worth watching. In a film with a serious identity crisis, she is the one person involved who seems to understand how the movie should be played, a knowledge apparently not even possessed by the director.
It's hard to know exactly what this movie is aiming for. There are elements of 50s B-movie biker flicks, Ed Wood-style train wrecks, and Broadway musicals, but there's not a sense that the director knows how to mix these together. While it has cheesy sci-fi elements, it doesn't appear to want to be a send-up of bad movies, like the brilliant The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. The musical numbers contain some pretty good songs (notably What's Up With Johnny) but are undercut by a lack of performers who actually know how to dance (only the guy with glasses looks like he's had any training). The biker elements are neither extreme enough to be parody nor effective enough to generate much drama. The movie also suffers severe pacing problems; scenes or individual shots just go on too long, and I'd trim a half hour from the hour and 45-minute movie.
Also, the "b" movie effect they seem to be going for is undercut by really nice choreography. Yes, it's strange to fault a low-budget movie for well-framed shots and beautiful lighting, but it just underscores the sense that there is no real vision for what this movie should be.
Or I should say there would be no vision if not for Brooks. Giving a funny, sexy performance, she offers a stream of snappy patter and knowing glances that makes every moment with her on screen work. Every time she is gone, the movie turns into a muddle.
There are a few other good performances in the movie, mostly from the older, more experienced actors (I love Paul Williams' bit as a kooky talk show host). But many of the bit actors have limited acting chops, and the guy playing Johnny lacks the bigger-than-life presence needed for the role.
I hope Brooks and the cinematographer have a chance to put their talents towards a worthier project.
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