Tank Girl Reviews
I watched Tank Girl once before and found that it was too much of a loopy and scattered film with manic energy but no consistency in its narrative. I thought that if I read the comic book it was based upon that I might have greater appreciation for it. In actual fact, Tank Girl was worse the second time around.
First of all, Tank Girl's story starts at the complete wrong time. While the first comic in the series began at a point in time where the titular Tank Girl was already an established vigilante wreaking havoc in the steampunk Australian outback of the future, the film takes a step back and becomes an origin story. Rather than accepting that Tank Girl herself is a legendary wild child who is driven by her self-indulgent desire for hedonistic pleasure and exhilarating action. The film adaptation decides to focus too much on giving her justifiable motivations so that the audience can sympathise with her more, relaying a boring background to her which consumes much of the narrative without giving it sufficient humour or action to satisfy. The way the film actually treats Tank Girl is much like Danny Cannon's adaptation of Judge Dredd (1995) which coincidentally came out the same year. Tank Girl is frequently referred to as Rebecca Buck, a name she is rarely ever referred to as in the comic series. Having read the comics I couldn't even remember her name because she was just Tank Girl to me, yet the film insists on humanizing her and pretending like it doesn't. But the other thing that frustrated me was how little time she actually spent in her distinctive tank which is a second way the film betrays its title.
Tank Girl's boyfriend Booga is also a mistreated character. He and the entire Kangaroo squad in the film are depicted as a bunch of kangaroo-human hybrids rather than just mutated kangaroos. The story suggests that they were a military experiment in an attempt to create super-soldiers, and this is once again a testament to the overly serious nature of the film. Most of their screen time is spent just joking their way through situations intended to be legitimate, and it reflects the misguided tone of the entire experience.
Frankly, the Tank Girl comic series is not too unlike that of Deadpool. With the film adaptation of Deadpool (2016) having just recently been released, it served as a perfect example on how to make a legitimate comic book action film and a parody of one at the same time. But like Danny Cannon's Judge Dredd, Tank Girl just fails to find the correct balance to make it work. Tank Girl's original comic series was about its characters in a violent pursuit of all the beer they can gather since the post-apocalyptic setting of the story has essentially turned society into a large gang of violent punks. The story in the Tank Girl film changes this to water so that the characters are motivated not by their passion for partying, but by a need to survive. This detracts from the fun experience of the material and gives it a far more serious feeling which does not match the overall atmosphere of the film or the comic that inspired it. The experience is meant to be fun, not serious. Apparently that's not how Tedi Sarafian sees it. But given Rachel Talalay sees the experience as a more comically oriented one, the script and direction proves to conflict with each other. As a result I didn't take the film seriously but didn't find it funny either, so none of its intentions met eye to eye with me as a viewer. The original comic book was ridiculously over the top in a sense that it was the natural flow of the universe, but the film presents a mood which is too self-aware of this for it to feel like a legitimate narrative tone. I just didn't enjoy Tank Girl as a standalone film or as an adaptation of its comic series, so I really do not see it as anything worth recommending.
Nevertheless, I will give the film points for its slick production values. Made in much the same style as Richard Stanley's Hardware (1990), Tank Girl is a post-apocalyptic film set in the desert and cut together like a music video. Iggy Pop is even a featured cameo in both films which further reinforces this. The scenery for the film perfectly depicts a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the party scene is still active for the dwellers. There is a lot of hypnotic colour in the film which gives it the feeling of a drug trip at the right moments, and even if the cinematography fails to grasp the potential spectacle that lies within the film it still succeeds at making a fair impression. The costume department is also a strong part of the film as they set the characters up to reinforce the punk nature of the universe, but the department who designed Booga and his kangaroo pals certainly prove to be the low point. They make little more of an impression than those who worked on The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) which is already frustrating enough considering how mischaracterized he is. Tank Girl's slick production values and soundtrack should give it a modicum of entertainment to the least demanding viewers.
When it comes to casting, Tank Girl acquires a mixed response. I put Lori Petty at the heart of this all because I don't know that I can support her performance, but I know it just didn't feel right. Lori Petty has the correct energy for the role and looks the part well enough, but when it comes to nailing the edge of the character I just didn't feel it. This is largely because Lori Petty's voice is way too high pitched to fit the profile of the role. Tank Girl is a character with a distinctive attitude to her; a proudly relentless nature which ensures her refusal to back down in the face of anybody. To capture this, an actor with a certain commanding tone of voice would be needed. Lori Petty doesn't have that, and as a result she plays the entire role out like one big joke which makes the film more like an extended sketch comedy than an actual narrative piece. Her gimmicks wear off quickly and eventually I just found that I wanted her to shut up Tank Girl makes it hard enough for anyone to find a role in any of the characters, but Lori Petty is very much miscast into minimizing any potential to be anything more.
Naomi Watts similarly lacks the ability to make any kind of an impact since she plays Air Girl as being too vulnerable to survive in the universe of the film. The only relief in the cast lies in the fact that Malcolm McDowell is never problematic in the role of a villain and Ice-T's performance as T-Saint is completely wack in a manner so strange that it's delightful.
Tank Girl has some moments of stylish flair, but its ridiculously thin story and repetitive cheap gags are as abundant as the disregard for the source material which makes it an awkward affair all the more disappointing for fans of the original comic.
Based on Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett cult comic "Tank Girl" we get a a comic-book-style action-adventure that goes over the top, but still manages to keep it together to be an enjoyable and fun ride in my point of view. The film has a perfect balance with a tough heroine loaded with sharp comments no matter what difficult situation she might be in, evil villains, humanlike mutants, cool vehicles, big sets, humor and solid stunts. The props are well-designed and imaginative and creates a feeling of "authenticity" to the scenes, and the visual and special effects are very much ok for being 1995. I havenīt properly red the comic "Tank Girl", but as far as I know it contains a lot of sex, nudity, violence, strong women and a base with a lot of dark humour. Some topics have obviously been toned down in the movie version, but the general look and vibe is portrayed in a great way. Malcolm McDowell is good as Kesslee, Naomi Watts great as Jet Girl and Lori Petty manages to really give life to Tank Girl. Sheīs loud, aggressive, a one-liner machine and she never seems to give up no matter what. Financially unsuccessful, "Tank Girl" recouped only about $6 million of its $25 million budget at the box office and received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Martin and Hewlett have since spoken negatively of their experiences creating the film. Talalay blamed some of the film's negative reception on studio edits over which she had no control. Despite the negative critical reception and box office failure of the film, it has been cited as an example of a comic book film with a cult following, and it is noted for its feminist themes. Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, the creators of the Tank Girl comic have since spoken poorly of their experiences in creating the film, calling it "a bit of a sore point" for them. Hewlett said, "The script was lousy; me and Alan kept rewriting it and putting Grange Hill jokes and Benny Hill jokes in, and they obviously weren't getting it. They forgot to film about ten major scenes so we had to animate them ... it was a horrible experience." The reviews as said were more or less negative. Owen Gleiberman gave the film a C- rating, praising Petty's performance which he said was the only good part of an otherwise "amateurish" film. Janet Maslin wrote: "Chief among its strong points is Lori Petty, a buzz-cut fashion plate in a Prozac necklace, who brings the necessary gusto to Tank Girl's flippancy." Leonard Klady from Variety gave a mixed review, saying: "What's missing from the mix is an engaging story to bind together its intriguing bits. And Lori Petty as 'Tank Girl' ... has the spunk but, sadly, not the heart of the post-apocalyptic heroine." I donīt agree to all these negative comments, I think that "Tank Girl" has that solid mix of everything to make the comic come alive on the silver screen. I found myself having a big smile on my face during the whole film so to me this was an enjoyable experience.
I couldn't recommend this to everyone, and the movie really is silly, but I think it has kind of grown as a cult movie worth checking out for certain fans of these kinds of movies.