Mystery Science Theater 3000's Mike Nelson reviews

Barb Wire

The world of comic books frightens me — all those dark, hideously deformed creatures committing odd, unspeakable acts. And those are just the people who read them. (Thank you! Thank you! Please, no. Really. Please. You’re too kind. Sir, put the gun down!! No. Noooooooooo!!!)
Sure, I’ve been known to hole up in the basement for days playing Doom and reading The Silmarillion over and over, but that’s just because I’m hiding from the evil elves who want to steal my third-level charm shield. If it gets to be too much, I’ll know.

I did sneak out of my lair long enough to see two wonderful examples of the comic to movie translation: Judge Dredd and Barb Wire. They have much in common. Both are set in the future and feature maverick, outlaw heroes.

If your life is going well and you have too much joy in your soul, try renting Barb Wire, and that should change things for you. Pamela Anderson Lee is Barb Wire, a free-lance bounty hunter from THE FUTURE. I wasn’t fond of Mrs. Lee’s performance, though I should admit my prejudice in that I believe her to be a horrible, filthy bride of Satan. I rented the laserdisc version, which promises more “sexy footage” of Anderson Lee than the theatrical release. I assume they refer to the opening scene in which Mrs. Lee goes undercover as a stripper to return a kidnapped woman to her parents. For what seems like hours, the poor woman shakes her plastic endowments at the screen while being sprayed with several thousand gallons of some glycerin-water solution. It’s chillingly unsexy, and you find yourself preoccupied with the physics of the situation, wondering exactly what polymer was used, thinking about viscosity and thermal breakdown. I would rather have seen more “sexy footage” of William Conrad in the laserdisc version of Cannon.

A running “joke” in the movie is that Ms. Wire does not like to be referred to as “Babe,” and in one scene, a man who does just that gets speared in the forehead by one of her high heels, dying instantly. This gory, unfunny little moment could be interpreted as a feminist statement, but really only by the dwarfish, sebaceous little creatures who read comic books like “Barb Wire” and go weeks without seeing a real woman. The women from their collections of superviolent Japanimation don’t count.

When the film was over, I had the overwhelming urge to shower. A good, hot shower with mounds of antibacterial lather. The kind of shower that Meryl Streep got in “Silkwood.” So if you’re game, buy a couple cakes of Lifebuoy and fire up the system!

Judge Dredd (1995)

In the future, one man is the law

Sylvester Stallone stars as Judge Dredd: judge, police officer, and executioner from THE FUTURE. He parades about in a shiny plastic ensemble the likes of which George Michael might place on one of his rock video fun-time dress-up supermodels. It’s not very flattering on Stallone. Perhaps that’s why he lashes out so much in this movie, killing scuzzball after scuzzball in a hopeless attempt to mask his discomfiture at the sartorial indignities thrust upon him. Quipping in this film is handled by Rob Schneider (the “copier guy” from SNL, a man who just won’t go away). I was distracted by his presence, unable to shake the notion that he might at any time turn to his costar and say, “Judge Dredd. The Judge-a-lator. Judge-a-ludge-a-ding-dong. Making copies.”

There are many digital effects in the film, and when you see them, you’ll say, “There are many digital effects in this film.” Lots of flying jet-skis go by, with many wonderful post-Jetsons sound effects. . .

Judge Dredd cast: Sylvester Stallone and Max von Sydow of Flash Gordon and Stephen King's Needful Things
Narrator: James Earl Jones (uncredited)
Rated R for continuous violent action (this is a Stallone movie)

Judge Dredd is available on video and on DVD from Amazon.com

Books by Michael Nelson available from Amazon.com include Movie Megacheese. Mike's episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are available from Amazon.com on both video and on DVD, and he co-wrote the MST3000 book

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This was one of two 1995 movies based on underground British comic books, the other was Tank Girl (Lori Petty vs. Malcolm McDowall)

Joe Bob Briggs looks at Rambo 3 (the one in Afghanistan)

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© 2000 Michael J. Nelson. All rights reserved, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles & reviews. Court is adjourned