|* R E V I E W S P A G E 2 *
' I think I'm in love... '
This movie must be seen. It is the best film I have ever watched. It has everything, and every big name in Italian cult cinema participated in it's execution. Visual effects and coordination by Antonio Margheriti, 2nd unit direction by Enzo G. Castellari, music (or whatever you call it) by Ennio Morricone. It stars Ivan Rassimov, Leonard Mann, Corinne Clery and Jaws from James Bond. It is not just a ripoff of STAR WARS, but a collage made out of moments, shots, images, sequences, textures, and modular hallways from STAR WARS that have been sort of shuffled around, done on the cheap, and without any regard for how stupid it all looks. Or how anyone might feel about it. To quote Yoda, the film is RECKLESS and that is what I admire about it the most. Even if the movie devolves into a laugh fest it maintains it's straight face and stage voice, staying in character as you howl at how utterly ruthless they were in stealing whatever they could, even if they weren't quite sure how to make it work right.
My favorite touch is the lovable robot dog that Keil has with him for some reason never explained. The thing looks pathetic, like a toaster with a drop bottom lid or maybe a golf ball washer on wheels. They got it to open and close it's mouth, turn in a circle on it's support legs, and twist it's head around from side to side. And that's ALL it does -- the director (or 2nd unit director) moved the camera from position to position rather than the robot, which makes a couple of electronic kazoo like noises and blinks some lights and then backs up. That's you're anthropomorphic lovable robot, now let's make the Evil Empire all identically vacuuformed plastic stormtrooper types and have a leader who's face is obscured by a mask & give him an elaborate helmet that just happens to resemble Darth Vader. We need good guys on a desert planet so garb them in brown earth tones, give all the women bizarre Princess Leia type hairdo's and make sure that there is a cute little mystical Chinese kid who can substitute for both Short Round AND Yoda, even though they are characters from movies that hadn't even been made yet, which proves how ahead of it's time THE HUMANOID was.
Finally, to hell with the laws of physics, they may apply to the entire Cosmos according to Dr. Carl Sagan, but they make for plodding movies with long majestic shots of the space ship models that could provide viewers too close a look at them & realize what the models were made out of: Have the things turn on a dime and zip out of the way. Being a quick study I recognized at least one cupcake tray serving as nuclear power stacks and am pretty sure that one of the ships had mounted electronic toothbrushes for laser cannons. They still fired lasers though, which is all that really matters once you get down to brass tacks. That's also a fitting analogy for the whole film, which has the re-definition mindset of a nine year old who just doesn't have a special effects budget for his after school play sets. Like Marcel Duchamp with his stupid bicycle wheel ("Mount it on a stool/It'll look real cool.") the whole film is a massive exercise in cultural redefinition, assigning new roles to older or previously used artifacts, images and facets of life that has little to do with their original intended function.
THE HUMANOID is stupid, silly, clunky and almost pathetic, but it has ten times the imagination of the past three 2hr+ Burger King promotional commercials George Lucas has been suckering people to pay good money to see. I'd rather watch crap like this any day of the week, and there is a certain honesty about it's sense of self awareness that is refreshing. The film knows exactly what it is, doesn't step outside of that role for one second, and achieves marvelously by confining itself to the gutter. It is one of the best movies I have ever watched from beginning to end.
8 out of 10.
One curious note, though: about seven minutes into the film there is a scene where a young, shapely woman who has been captured by Barbara Bach's evil dark queen is strapped into some futuristic torture apparatus stark naked (shown clearly only from the front from the waist up) and skewered by a rack of sharpened glass needles for purposes never made clear. I note the incident because it stops the movie cold, is entirely outside the scope of anything else that happens in the film, completely inappropriate and yet is the one detail from the movie that I remember with crystal clarity, if only because there was no discernible reason for it to be there.
Review by Steven Nyland, originally posted at L'Umanoide's IMDB.com page and kindly used here by permission of the author.
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