Monday, June 09, 2003


A Video Review of "Tank Girl"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

In the United States superheroes were modeled after the heroes of the pulp magazines and the radio serials like Doc Savage and the Shadow. In England their superheroes who came much later were modeled after the punk movement. Stuff like "Judge Dredd," "Hellblazer" and "Sandman" were all the rage. In1995 one of the Brits’ greatest comic achievements was immortalized on the big screen with Tank Girl.

The queen of the riotgrrls rocks. Tank Girl is the creation of art school mates Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett and gained popularity worldwide with the comic strip. Hewlett is also the animator behind the techno band Gorillaz and has directed several music videos since.

In the comics and the film Tank Girl’s out to party and she’s out to break the bad guys but only on her terms — that goes double for the director Rachel Talalay who had previously worked with John Waters. She went way over the top as far as mixing in animation, music videos, instantaneous wardrobe changes, staged musical numbers and it’s all a good thing. There’s so much jammed into this one flick you find yourself wondering when the kitchen sink will fly by. Truly amazing.

Madonna had originally wanted the title role here but I’m glad it went to Lori Petty instead. Had Ms. M gotten the part there would have been more fuss concentrated on the Madonna factor and less on Tank Girl herself. Lori Petty is priceless and perfect; a sarcastic action heroine with tongue planted firmly in cheek; all this and sexy too. On a side note most of the Spice Girls also auditioned for the title role, as a matter of fact, it’s where they met for the first time.

Malcolm McDowell is the ever-diabolic villain, a role he’s made his trademark in recent years. The outrageous nature of Tank Girl makes his usual over the top maniacism fit like a glove. We also see Ice-T playing Ice-T as a killer kangaroo, a concept so funny words can not properly describe. Naomi Watts has never been better as shy sidekick Jet Girl. Also look for terrific cameos by Iggy Pop as Ratface and Ann Cusack as Sub Girl.

If you don’t get the comic you’re probably not going to get the movie. So the Tank Girl fans will probably be pissed. Look at it this way, punk is all about attitude and the movie Tank Girl has the perfect quirky unconventional attitude. The comic doesn’t follow the rules and neither does the movie. Just turn off your continuity-tuned mind and sit back and enjoy this one, it’s all good.

And the Cole Porter "Let’s Do It" production number by far the highlight of the film is not to be missed.

This review was previously published in a slightly different form at
Project Popcorn
and Comic Widows

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