Monday, January 9, 2017

Superhero Media: Tank Girl

I have rarely heard anything good about this film, it was something of a late night television staple in the late 1990s, the kind of thing you'd watch with your mates with a few drinks back before DVDs had really taken off. When I sat down to watch, I was honestly expecting another trashy and forgettable film that I would regret watching. Now, I have never actually read any Tank Girl comics, so I only had a vague inkling as to what the concept and story were about, so don't expect too much comparison to the original work. Remember my Catwoman review when I discussed the interplay between sexuality as it is perceived by a male audience and third wave feminism? Well, Tank Girl actually manages to achieve what Catwoman fails so miserably at; Tank Girl (the character, not the film) is, from the word go, pure female power fantasy. She is competent, deadly, owns her own sexuality, master of her own destiny and utterly unshakeable, even the the face of a group of armed men threatening to gang-rape her. 

Watching Tank Girl take down an entire megacorp using only her friends, a gaudy tank and her wits is a lot of fun, but it's clearly not intended to be taken seriously. The whole film is an anarchic romp with a "girl power" filter that actually works really well if taken in the spirit in which it is intended. Don't get me wrong, the film has many problems; Lori Petty can be a bit much at the best of times, running roughshod over her lines and chewing the scenery at Orson Welles levels. Malcolm McDowell is good, but never as good as he was in A Clockwork Orange, so par for the course really. Ice T and most of the other Kangaroo mutants are a lot of fun, though their origin is sidelined and the death of their creator dropped in to work as a McGuffin so that they help with the final raid on Water and Power. I really enjoyed the last vestige of government being a utilities department, such a nice spin on the traditional Post-Apoc FBI, CIA or whatever still trying to run things. There is a lot to enjoy here, despite the flaws and I'd have to recommend it for anyone who's yet to see it.

We need more punk rock, feminist superhero movies, especially now. As the world seems intent on descending into a Neo-Conservative quagmire of racism, Queer phobia and state-sanctioned misogyny. Characters like Tank Girl, Ramona Flowers, Captain Marvel and Traci-13 need to come to the fore and kick some arse so that the generation that grows up with this New World Order of intolerance learns that revolt is not only permissible, but required of them. Tank Girl is far from perfect, in fact, it's more than a bit of a mess, but it's the best example of what it is that we currently have. Definitely worthy of a look, or another look if you've seen it before. 

No comments:

Post a Comment