Feb 112016

Directed by: ,
Written by:
Starring: , , ,

Available on Blu-ray and from VHX now, from Red Letter Media Ltd

space cop

In some ways comedy is a lot harder to review than the standard sci-fi genre stuff that comes along on straight to video formats these days, after all breaking down the quality issues with effects standards, editing and acting is usually easy fare when they’re trying to be arty or serious. Obviously anything with (intended) jokes is also far more subjective. However unlike the kind of bad-on-purpose releases done on the cheap you often see from small studios trying to make a quick buck or cash in on brand recognition, this is more like one of those weekend projects akin to Bad Taste. It’s made by people who do it because they wanted to. Knowing their limitations and being able to use them to get a laugh is the main attribute which carries this and prevents it becoming an irritating slog. Like the older short films by Red Letter Media or their previous horror release Feeding Frenzy, this is a film with clear cut restrictions on the results which can be achieved. Luckily the makers are well aware of this.

As you’d expect when bizarre 1980s nonsense like Samurai Cop is referenced in the title and in some of the dialogue, most of the plot is typical mismatched buddy formula material; complete with angry captains and a series of botched investigations. There are no surprises here or in the sci-fi stakes as they pay homage to Dredd and many other sci-fi flicks. Space Cop considers himself to be a hero, though his methods seem to rack up a considerable body count. He employs the kinds of excessive force typical of other big screen law enforcement officers from the future. His one liners are terrible and his busts all go awry. He’s also a horrible slob who constantly eats junk food. After a ‘promotion’ to traffic, Space Cop happens across an alien plan and gets thrown back in time, finding himself in the year 2007. Fortunately for him the contemporary police take him in as one of their own, despite his way of making arrests continuing to wreak havoc. Running into the same cosmic menace during a break in at a cryogenics lab, the incident thaws out Ted Cooper, a detective who was frozen in the 1940s. Will this unlikely duo be able to stop the nefarious plan and save the Earth? Will the farcical fish out of water gags piling up from all angles be the death of us all?

space cop2

The movie utilises a lot of miniatures and green screens. The pyrotechnics and weapon effects vary in competence, but it’s all part of the same package. Not going full out with the computer graphics is admirable and lends it all a certain amount of charm. There are moon bases, flying cars, laser battles, brains in jars and alien masks as well as a variety of indoor sets. You know what you’re in for when the hero’s vehicle seems to be a white Mondeo with a PC joystick inside and plastic guns sticking out of the bonnet. They attempt hologram displays and other digital effects with similar results. The fake baby from American Sniper also makes an appearance. However one stand out element here is notably the soundtrack, which provides some well made electronic tunes and it does a good job of replicating the sounds of ’80s John Carpenter. It’s not all great and the obvious takes on a track from Tron Legacy stick out, but even that is kind of a gag itself by now.

Directing, acting and writing duties are all shared out by a central trio of film-makers and it never tries to be more than the sum of these parts. Calling it acting at all is probably overstating things. Laugh inducing moments will vary from one viewer to another but there are enough of them throughout to keep things from getting stale. However everything does maintain a certain level of inconsistency whether it’s the performances or the jokes. Not everything works, and some moments are stretched to their breaking point – there are various hits and misses. Space Cop is a moronic, lazy oaf and Cooper is a sexist who wants to smoke indoors and talks with a silly accent; this stuff makes up a lot of the situations as things unfold. There’s a lot of slapstick and juvenile stuff included for your money. Done with any kind of pretentious ideas about plot or thematic meaning and this would all be terribly annoying, but as it stands it’s just a stupid comedy where aliens try pole dancing and Space Cop is the character’s legal name. If you like the idea of those indy features similar to Garth Marenghi or Danger 5 which have a hand-made feel but you’re tired of the whole retro fad give it a look; but maybe after a few drinks.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆


MocataA sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, foreign cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. Mocata doesn't get to the cinema too often, after that one time they said they wouldn't serve his kind and he had to go and wait outside by the speeder. If you enjoy a good bullet ballet or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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