|THE HUMANOID REVIEW|
|An unbiased critique - text by The Gonz|
|Reviews of this movie on the net seem to be few and far between..quite why the movie remains so relatively unknown to most movie-goers remains a mystery to me, it had a respectable enough international release, and also had the 'Bond' pulling power of it's three leading cast members. Richard Kiel was hot property after his 'Jaws' success, and Ms Bach and Ms Clery were adorning magazine covers and centrefolds around the world. However, the film is not as fondly remembered as other sci-fi smashes of the era... Starlog readers can happily quote from 'The Black Hole' , 'Tron' or 'Starcrash', but mention Humanoid and you usually just draw a blank.
More scarily, however...the people who DO remember the movie generally seem to hate it.. I've regularly seen it fall into the 'Z' grade, bargain-bin category, with it being ridiculed on all levels..performances, special fx, even the score. The question I ask myself is... are these people watching the same film ?!?
The Humanoid ( aka L'Umanoide, its original Italian title, or Kampf um die 5. Galaxies, in German ) , is CLEARLY, OBVIOUSLY, the coolest piece of retro sci-fi of its generation, if not ever ! Yes, there are a few minor similarities to Star Wars, but Humanoid has a charm and spirit all of its own. Let's look at the plus points first...The Star. Richard Kiel IS The Humanoid :) The only movie where he gets his name BEFORE the title, a la Schwarzenegger ! This really was the Big Guys BIG moment, and one he seized firmly with both gargantuan hands. Pre-transformation, Kiel is sweet, good-natured, and very likeable. An everyman the audience can empathise with, and root for. And he has a BEARD !! Kiel in a beard should virtually guarantee box-office gold! Post-transformation, hes a total off-the-wall psycho. Ray beams bounce off him and he doesn't even flinch. Golob growwls and grimaces and kicks butt, and we are AFRAID! And then, his eventual salvation..his rediscovery of his human qualities, his true nature, his very soul. One mans journey into the darkness and through to the other side, along the way saving the whole universe, with personal redemption the prize. 'sigh'..the plot is sheer Perfection.
What else is good? BARBARA BACH. In THAT DRESS! and CORINNE CLERY. in THAT WET DRESS!! Say no more guys ;) Seriously, both leading ladies put in excellent performances..Corinne in particular is spirited and feisty, showing wayyy more appeal and enthusiasm than Carrie Fisher ever did... Ms Bach is cold and calculating, very appealing...and the 'space vampirism' adds a nice twist to the character.
Arthur Kennedy is ingeniously deranged...I believe Donald Plesanace was originally cast in his part, a very fine actor, and its fascinating to speculate how different the film may have been...but Kennedy makes the part of Kraspin his own. He's a nasty piece of work. He's mean to Golob. We don't like that. The audience don't either, and when Kiel smiles his toothy grin when he fries Kraspin at the end of the film, the audience are smiling with him. Don't these movieland mad scientist types never learn? Nefarious despotism never pays !
The rest of the cast? Hmmm...lets see. Rassimov is obviously a cult legend, but Graal is...um...hmmm lets see. A bit of a wet squib. The 'Darth Helmet' suit is often a talking point for 'Humanoid' ridiculers..more so are the lines that Graal is forced to deliver. Lets just say that the scriptwriters didn't really do the character justice. The end fight's pretty funky tho, and the force-beam gauntlets are this seasons must-have fashion item!
Leonard Mann does the Han Solo bit..he's cool. We like him. We just laugh at his name. We chuckle at his Groven Institute pancake-making machine. And we wet ourselves with hilarity at his pitiful attempts at kung fu (which are ALMOST as lame as your humble reviewers..) Still...Leonard Mann is cool.
The direction by George B Lewis ( ! ) veers between merely competent, to artistic genius.He doesn't pull punches, quite a few of the more sadistic scenes ( the Groven massacre, the nude dudette death-machine ) being particularly unsettling. Visual effects are either cheesey ( plastic rocket ships circling each other on wires , Golob pushing cardboard walls down, Golob hurtling dummies through the air ) , or GOOD ( the ground-based laser fights are particularly impressive.. ) .... but the film certainly never looks dull, theres always some spectacle to see...especially cool are the Laser-archers, and the Nurek cyborgs.
In all, I find it mind-boggling how people can fail to love this film...the movie has it all ! Sweet good-natured leading man, nubile young leading lady, the BEST bad guys in sci-fidom, and some top-notch effects. Special kudos to the legend Morricones soundtrack...the main tune in particular is sooo pant-swingable ! The film really evokes the glory days of spirited swashbuckling science fiction, before the CGI revolution that blasted it dead. I feel cheated there were no Humanoid sequels, no prequels...no Starcrash crossovers...and why on Earth did no-one make me a Golob action figure?!?
Just one SERIOUS gripe though...the dog. Lose the pesky Robodog...Kiel seems to enjoy petting that mechanical mutt a little TOO much, if you ask me...NOT natural!, and not comfortable to watch...
THAT never happened in Empire Strikes Back....
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