Movie review: Tank Girl


Tank Girl DVD

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This was a part of a failed attempt to do another comic-book movie double feature through OnDemand, but I decided I really didn’t need to see Batman Forever again.

I really sort of thought I hated Tank Girl. Well, maybe “hate” is a little strong, but the bits and pieces I’d seen of this movie before didn’t really make me want to watch it all the way through.

I don’t know if I’d exactly call it “good” even now. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The plot is standard post-apocalyptic stuff — band of surviving outsiders fights against the evil powers that control everything — but honestly, that there is even a plot is pretty much secondary to everything else here — the Burning Man aesthetic, the soundtrack full of awesomely angry women and Lori Petty running around being insane as she plays Tank Girl. While the production values are pretty much straight out of a cheap British sci-fi TV series, it serves the movie well — it’s fun, ridiculous and pointless. Tank Girl changes clothes and hairstyles constantly and usually inexplicably. There’s a random musical scene where Tank Girl forces everyone to sing Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love.” Her quest to save her young friend Sam is what drives most of the movie, but it definitely feels like an afterthought.

While Tank Girl and Jet Girl suffer harsh treatment at the hands of men, they’re never broken. The men (even bad guy Malcolm McDowell) are all pretty ineffectual. And it’s delightful to see a movie where women aren’t pining over or pursuing men (yes, the girls hook up with the mutated kangaroo Rippers, but that’s kind of just happens and not much is made of it). It’s not so much a “girl power” movie as much as it is a movie about women just being women (although one’s more than a little crazy). I liked the transformation — as obvious as it was — of Jet Girl from a mousy, put-upon girl to someone who was confident and capable. (And I was also delighted to see how many women worked on the movie.)

I know the movie doesn’t have much to do with the comic and I’ve read the Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett didn’t have the best experiences with it, but I liked how integrated the comic art was in the movie. It definitely gave the movie a trippy, self-aware quality that made it work. If this movie took itself seriously, it would not have been nearly as fun.

So I didn’t hate it. I had fun watching this. It’s nothing I’ll necessarily seek out again, but I’m happy to have watched it all the way through.

Not a clip from Tank Girl, but the video for Gorillaz’s “19/2000.” It’s related enough and it has Miho Hatori.

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