Reviewed by Scott Marshall
Rating: 3 Beans
eeds Not Words:
A (Sort of) Critical Examination of MEGAFORCE
I'd like to talk to you about a film which is dear to my heart: Hal Needham's MEGAFORCE. Oh sure, it's a bad film, directed by the man who gave us the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and CANNONBALL RUN films; but
it's brilliantly bad, not just tedious like his more famous films. Consider this premise: Ace Hunter, the charismatic leader of a band of elite mercenaries, is retained by an English officer and his beautiful companion to thwart the advance of a rival band of mercenaries led by the evil Guerrera.
Sounds promising, right? Now plug these names into those roles: Henry Silva as Guerrera; Persis Khambatta as the love interest; and Barry Bostwick as Ace Hunter.
Oh, yeah. Now picture Bostwick with a high, blow-dried haircut. He kisses his thumb and holds it out at arm's length with a grin: a signal to Persis that "the good guys always win- even in the '80s." Now picture me laughing. Hard. It's 1982 and I'm sitting in the Capitol Theatre in Woodstock, New Brunswick. I'm 14 years old and I've just seen a film whose poster graced many a comic book's back cover at the time. It's 1989 and I'm bored, renting movies to pass the time in my first apartment. It's 1993 and I can't sleep, so I catch a movie on late night TV. It's 1998, and I feel the urge again: it's time for MEGAFORCE. It's time to rock out to that theme song that plays over the end credits (turns out it's by 707, not .38 Special as I long
thought). It's time to thrill to the brilliant piece of strategy which enables Ace to outsmart his old friend, Guerrera, who watches admiringly with a good cigar in hand.
OK, so I don't know why I like MEGAFORCE. It's an awful movie, but it makes me laugh. I did see it on the big screen when it was released, and have caught it probably 4 or 5 times since. Now that it's fresh in my mind, I feel I have a new insight which ought to be shared with the world: that is, that MEGAFORCE may well be a spiritual as well as literal predecessor to David Worth II's WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD, starring Timothy Bottoms and- wait for it- Persis Khambatta.
But what else do they share apart from Persis? Consider this: both films feature a highly advanced
motorcycle, which can fly when necessary. The Warrior's cycle also has an on-board computer with an old Atari game as its screensaver. It stands to reason that the Warrior cycle is a post-apocalyptic improvement on Ace's cycle.
Then, of course, there's the mercenaries. Lots of them in both films, although the villains in WARRIOR are a bunch of quasi-robotic-Nazi-Kraftwerk clones led by the late Donald Pleasance. Persis has a lot more to do in WARRIOR, including spitting in Donald's face.
Finally, and most damningly, there is Megaweapon.
Yes, Megaweapon: the giant dump truck with attitude, perhaps the perfect expression of an invincible, enhanced factory automobile with armor, machine guns, and rocket launchers. It appears in WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD as the nemesis for the Warrior's super cycle, and its screen time is sadly limited.
So, there it is. Some bad movies with not-so-bad things in common. If you think about it, maybe we can even see STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE as another cousin to MEGAFORCE and WARRIOR OF THE LOST
WORLD. It also stars Persis, in what is, unfortunately, her best performance that I know of, with Stephen Collins as an equally unappealing partner. And the Enterprise is sort of like a super flying motorcycle. And V'GER could sort of be like Megaweapon…
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