September 5, 2018

Knock Offs part II: If Looks Could Kill

We thought this was going to be a James Bond knock off, so we were pretty surprised when the main character was less 007 and a whole lot more Inspector Clouseau.

Normal everyday teenager with 5 o'clock shadow.
The plot unfolds something like this: Michael Corben is your average high school senior who has to take summer school in order to graduate. He only has to make up a french credit, but to get that credit, he must join the french honers students on their summer trip to France. Poor Michael Corben. Meanwhile, British intelligence super spy, Blade, is on a covert mission in France to thwart well-to-do politician Augustus Steranko's plans for world domination. Unfortunately for Blade, the moment he steps into Steranko's mansion, he's handily dispatched by Steranko's henchman. This leaves British intelligence with no choice but to have US intelligence send their deep, deep, deep-cover operative to France to complete the mission. That operative's codename? Michael Corben. With both Michael Corbens bound for France, wackiness is bound to ensue.

Lots of death for a comedy: There's two major deaths before this movie gets going, which is odd because the over all tone of the flick is basically slapstick comedy.

Is that Robert Daultry!?: It totally is–and he's dead. Huh.

The French Teacher.
Over the top villain: This film isn't big on subtlety, but the villain's plot might take the far-fetched cake. Augustus Steranko is a crooked politician whose plan for world domination hinges on minting his own currency. But he's not just going to print his new money on paper, nooooo. His currency is to be gold coins, so he's smelting gold in HIS OWN FRIGGIN' HOUSE. This is the same house where he has business meetings and hosts parties to keep up his regular politician appearances, where no one ever notices the DIY SMELTING OPERATION IN THE NEXT ROOM.

Over the top henchmen: Steranko's right hand, Ilsa Grunt (played by Linda Hunt), isn't any more subtle in her evilness. She has a thick German accent, a necklace that hides a deadly metal whip, and a henchman assistant who has a comically-insatiable thirst for murdering with his cybernetic arm.
Fashionable necklace, or deadly weapon?

Over the top action: One of the final fights happens on a vat of molten gold, another scene involves a helicopter rotor coming loose and taking out a GIGANTIC portion of the mansion's roof, and there's a final shoot out punctuated with numerous unmotivated explosions, culminating in a harrowing escape from the mansion rooftop while it's completely ablaze.

Over the top acting: Everyone gives a hamfisted performance throughout this film, though that's not entirely without charm, it does start to wear thin.

Over the top humor: Once the movie gets going, there's hardly a scene that doesn't contain some attempt at humor. The longest running gag is that the french class keeps getting new tour bus drivers that are conspicuously seem less and less like bus drivers than they do mercenaries. The french teacher also directly communicates with Michael Corben's point agents multiple times, but they somehow can't understand that she's actually a french teacher and not an operative codenamed the French Teacher. There's also an abundance gags where British agents write off Corben's immaturity and ignorance as him being an American.

Unexpected feminism: There are a few points in this film where male characters acknowledge the lady characters are capable and have value, most notably when it comes to the French Teacher. Early on in the film she's obtusely angry with (teenager) Michael Corben, lashing out at him every chance she gets. She's also generally brash or obnoxious to everyone in her path, while also being oblivious to much of what's happening around her. But when the shit hit's the fan, Corben doesn't hesitate to throw her a weapon with all the (unspoken) confidence in the world that she'll rise to the occasion. And she does rise to the occasion, utilizing her previously abrasive character traits and never needing anyone to (blatantly) save her from peril. (It's nice to see female characters with agency, but it'll be nicer when this is the standard instead of the exception.)

But did we like it?: We weren't 100% on board with this one at the start (probably because we were expecting something completely different), but it certainly won us over by the end.

Check out that molten metal hand!

No comments:

Post a Comment