Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)
It’s down to the early 80’s in this run through the Birthday Series. For those that aren’t familiar, the idea is to pick a film released as close as possible to your birthday. In my case, that’s 23rd of August. The early 80’s are always a witheringly inconsistent time, as 1982 and 1984 are two of the greatest all-time years for genre cinema, but there’s a frankly obscene amount of trash released around it. So, for my 1983 effort, it’s Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared-Syn (19th August in the US), a Charles Band (of Full Moon fame) sci-fi effort that makes almost no sense whatsoever.
May contain power crystals and spoilers below.
Standard 3D disclaimer time that I really ought to cut and paste and keep somewhere: It’s been said before, but a plague on fucking 3D. It was a useless invention when it first came around, by the early 80’s it was still a useless invention and in the year 2012 nothing has changed and it remains a useless invention. The only reason for it is for hacks to prod stuff at the camera, and for Studios and cinema chains to gouge the cinema going public with overinflated (unjustifiably) prices for a ticket. Why am I ranting about 3D? Because Metalstorm was proudly shot in this idiotic and irrelevant format, and was, apparently, one of the better usages of it. I remain unconvinced.
I have absolutely no idea how to do a plot synopsis for this one, it’s that mental. Nevertheless, it’s the far future and bounty hunter Dogen (Jeffrey Byron) is on the hunt for evil ne’er-do-well Jared-Syn (Michael Preston). He’s hanging out on
Tatooine Lemuria and is harvesting magic crystals that do something or other with life force, open portals and the rest of it. The planet’s human population is comprised of scattered “nomad” tribes, all of whom have a serious attitude problem. Dogen finds Dhyana (Kelly Preston) mourning her father after he’s killed by Jared-Syn’s “Half Cyborg” son. Incidentally, you can’t be “half cyborg”. A cyborg is a mix of human tissue and robot parts, therefore as soon as you have a robot finger then you’re a cyborg. This really annoys me. Anyway, where was I, oh yes, so Dogen and Dhyana travel around Lemuria before she’s teleported away by Syn. He fights off the nomads, hooks up with Tim Thomerson’s Rhodes, kills some people and has a big battle with Jared-Syn who escapes through a portal stuffed full of things to prod at the screen.
This is going to sound completely insane, but this is basically a space Western. Dogen represents any man in a white hat that you’ve ever seen (even if he is borrowing Mad Max’s leathers). Syn is basically a glorified bank robber, holed up in a desert shithole trying to get his hands on more loot. There’s a shit load of pointless (and a bit boring) travelling around that could have come straight from any John Wayne film, and Dhayana and her father are basically prospectors. Furthermore, for the Cyclops tribe read any Indian tribe ever put on screen, and it’s very easy to reimagine this as being set in the late 19th Century in the middle of nowhere. To be fair to the film, it makes absolutely no bones about this with the poster even advertising it with “High Noon at the End of the Universe”.
Basically, this is a low rent slice of schlock. It’s early Full Moon, so they don’t even have the budget available to their better efforts such as Trancers. Therefore, imagination and decent effects are at a premium, and Band has directed the sparsest, tightest film that he could. What he’s also done, through sheer luck, is also direct the nuttiest film with the least sense of his long career. Honestly, not a damned thing here makes a jot of sense. Syn, for example, is described as having some kind of supernatural powers, but this is obviously horseshit. He’s got crystals that do things for whatever convenient reason the script needs, not actual magic. Then there’s the title. Firstly, what does Metalstorm actually mean? Anyone? You at the back, don’t be shy? Furthermore, Jared-Syn actually escapes (with one eye on a possible sequel, perhaps) so is very much not destroyed.
The acting is passable, with Thomerson standing out. I actually think this would have been a better film with him in the lead- Dollman and Jack Deth, for example, are exactly the kind of growly badass type character that he excels at, and I think he’d have done a better job. Preston(K) is just there, but the character is little more than an excuse for a rescue anyway. Preston(M), on the other hand, is quite good fun as Syn, at least he knows what sort of film he’s in- a very silly one.
As mentioned, this is clearly schlock. It therefore has to be evaluated by how enjoyable it is, and in the case of Metalstorm, that’s actually pretty enjoyable. Yes, the 3D prodding at the screen is daft, but when one of the things prodded at the screen is a cyborg’s dismembered arm, then I’m prepared to be slightly more tolerant than I am with the likes of Resident Evil. Furthermore, the chase through the dimension gap at the end of the film would, I bet, have looked great in 3D.
Overall, this isn’t a bad film, but it’s not a great one either. There’s enough here to garner a few chuckles, and it wasn’t exactly a hateful time. The obvious insanity clearly helps it, and I still can’t believe that Band went as high concept with this film that he did. It often helps a movie when you abandon any sense of logic or coherence, and Metalstorm is no exception. As a result, I’m giving it a mild, beer-fuelled recommendation and 2.5 robot cowboys out of a possible 4.
Next up is an all-time classic: John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The Full List for the Birthday Series Redux:
- 2011- The Skin I Live In (2.5 out of 4)
- 2010- The Last Exorcism (2.5 out of 4)
- 2009- Post Grad (1 out of 4)
- 2008- The House Bunny (1 out of 4)
- 2007- Knocked Up (1 out of 4)
- 2006- Volver (1 out of 4)
- 2005- Red Eye (2 out of 4)
- 2004- Dead Clowns (Orangutan of Doom)
- 2003- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (1 out of 4)
- 2002- Talk to Her (4 out of 4)
- 2001- Jeepers Creepers (2 out of 4)
- 2000- Gossip (1 out of 4)
- 1999- All About My Mother (1 out of 4)
- 1998- The X-Files (1 out of 4)
- 1997- Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (2 out of 4)
- 1996- The Last Supper (3 out of 4)
- 1995- The Usual Suspects (4 out of 4)
- 1994- Color of Night (2 out of 4)
- 1993- Surf Ninjas (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1992- The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag (2 out of 4)
- 1991- Pump Up the Volume ( 3 out of 4)
- 1990- Wild at Heart (3 out of 4)
- 1989- Bull Durham (3.5 out of 4)
- 1988- Crossing Delancey (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1987- The Big Easy (3 out of 4)
- 1986- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1 out of 4)
- 1985- Better off Dead (3 out of 4)
- 1984- Oxford Blues (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1983- MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (2.5 out of 4)
- 1982- The Thing
- 1981- Honky Tonk Freeway
- 1980- Schock
- 1979- Rich Kids
- 1978- Coma
Tags: 3D, Charles Band, Cyborg, Film, Insane, Jeffrey Byron, Kelly Preston, Low Budget, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, Michael Preston, Quite good fun, Review, Space Western, The Birthday Series, Tim Thomerson, very silly indeed
About JarvWorkshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.
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