Judge David Johnson is a no-go.
Action is go! (Or is that "Lots of talking is go?")
The latest low-budget goof-fest from Troma is a self-styled sci-fi parody, tracking the misadventure of a couple of space heroes as they fight space ninjas. Harmless fun or poop on a stick?
Facts of the Case
Our adventure begins when pudgy space patrol agent Buck Fiesta (Alex Warren) lands his interstellar space patrol car onto Sector 219A, a settlement that has had reports of rampant weirdness. Buck zooms around the deserted complex, scanning for any signs of life. He eventually finds some, in the form of a mysterious intergalactic ninja. The two fight a bit, until the masked assailant zaps back into his time portal. Buck, shaken and confused, finds help in the form of the Red Arrow (Mike Oettle), a super-powered being who was like one of the first settlers of Sector 219A.
Anywho, the good guys team up to battle more ninjas, and are eventually led to the evil Dr. Spider Jones, who's been commanding the ninjas, and is working on a sinister plot to do something bad. Or something.
I'll hand it to writer/director Jim Bultas: he's got a crazy imagination. Too bad, it's used up in a pretty boring movie. How can a hour-long movie titled Rock n Roll Space Patrol Action is a Go! be boring? Brother, I wish I knew. The simple truth is that for every few dollops of stilted space ninja fighting action, you have to endure a lot of standing around and talking.
The charm of Space Patrol (yeah, I'm not writing out that full title anymore) is in the little gags, like the robot navigator in the space car (a sliver-gloved hand that reaches out through the floor and scribbles directions on a map) or the space ninjas warping in and out of combat. Our two heroes are self-deprecating enough to realize they're simply goofing around in a low-grade home-made B picture, and that's a compliment, In fact, I'll share that same compliment with Bultas; he is wise enough to not take himself or his movie to seriously. The thing is a spoof and actually beckons people to laugh at it more, that laugh with it.
Which is all the more reason to lament the sometimes grinding-to-a-halt pace the flick falls into at points. When things are moving along, rife with dopey special effects, an incoherent plot, and mindless action, Space Patrol shines. But as soon as the characters start hanging around spouting inane exposition and talking, talking, talking, all forward momentum dies. Come on, boys, this movie's like an hour long! Move it or lose it!
Not one to end this review on a negative note, I'd like to pass on a kudo or two for the visual effects. While I admit they are extraordinarily cheap and cheesy, there are a lot of them, used creatively, and the corniness accurately reflects the atmosphere of the movie. Highlights include the Red Arrow's supersonic teleporting dash, the aforementioned ninja temporal displacement portal hopping, some funky looking laser beams and nifty green screen work for Dr. Spider's evil lair. Nothing in the running for an Academy Award, but perfectly fitting for the Z-grade schtick Bultas is after.
This might be the first anamorphic and 5.1 treatment I've ever seen from Troma. Nothing's particularly jaw-dropping, but it is a much slicker treatment than the schlock studio usually puts out. A nice array of extras include two commentary tracks—one with the Bultas and the other a video insert with the cast—a moronic, yet similarly harmless short film Hick Trek 2, some outtakes and a making-of-featurette, tracking down the cast in a "where are they now" segment. Not half bad.
Space Patrol is a dumb movie, its fun tempered by too many slow spots, but everyone looks like they're having a good time and I was sporadically amused. Plus, unlike most Troma stuff, the sleaze factor is almost non-existent. Should you buy it? Probably not, but if your senile grandmother bought it for you for Christmas, I don't think you'll spend the rest of the month hating her.
Guilty is a go!
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Scales of Justice
• Director's Commentary
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