Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 4
About seven years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!
Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawn Mower Man!
As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.
As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:
***** Might actually keep
**** Attempt to sell on Ebay
*** Straight to the nearest charity shop
** Straight to the nearest bin
* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay
So here goes…
The Dark Side of the Sun
Bozidar ‘Bota’ Nikolic
Having plumbed the murky depths of the Family Films box set last time, I decided to take the mature approach and hit up the Drama box. Ah Drama, the genre that I approach with greater trepidation than almost any other genre outside of Chick Flick. There aren’t generally any zombies in drama movies, Arnie doesn’t kill 1,000 men with an icepick, and no one gets hilariously hit in the face with a dodgeball. No drama, in my experience, tends to mean people talking about serious stuff, for about two hours.
So imagine my delight when this film began with a shot of our Brad shouting contradictions at the sea (“I want to live, sometimes I wish I’d never been born”) while wearing a gimp mask! You see Brad plays Rick, a young man inflicted with a rare skin disease which means that if he is exposed to the sun (or any kind of artificial light it would appear) he’ll turn to beef jerky and die.
When the film begins he is in Yugoslavia with his father and mother who is catatonic for no readily explained reason. They are there to see a healer who might be able to help him, though this seems little more that a flimsy pretense for the Yugoslavian director to film in his native country.
The first part of the film mainly consists of Rick watching Yugoslavian street performers but things hot up (sorry Rick, that was insensitive) when he decides he no longer wants to live in darkness and would rather spend his last days a free man. This seems a decidedly dickish move considering he would be leaving his father, who has spent years of his life trying to find a cure, son less with only his vegetable wife for company. It is also mentioned that he will die in insufferably agony as his skin blisters and falls off, so pretty dumb too.
Anyhoo, Brad removes his gimp mask. Underneath is perfect skin and bouffant hair, now I don’t know about you but I get hat hair if I let mine grow over a centimetre in length, plus I can’t imagine what being inside a leather mask in the midday sun would do to my complexion. All I do know is I would look almost the opposite of this.
You may have noticed that this is nothing like the Brad on the cover of the DVD, this seems to be a trend with these films.
Oh I should have mentioned that whilst he was gimped up he met a beautiful actress who it would appear was until recently sleeping with one of her troupe, a fat, greasy and insufferably irritating man who manages to even make a rendition of ’99 Bottles of Beer’ more annoying than it already is. She falls for the masked rider (oh yeah he rides a motorbike too) so when, for some reason, unmasked Rick turns up and pretends he is not the same guy, she asks him to help find the mystery man.
And that is pretty much the rest of the movie, and it is utterly infuriating. Rick spends the whole time pained that he cannot reveal his true identity even though he has no good reason not to (he’s not Batman after all) and she shows no interest in unmasked Rick even though he acts exactly the same as the masked rider and looks like bloody Brad Pitt!
Eventually they make love in the dark so she cannot see him and he leaves her his locket in the morning so she knows who he is. Rick rides home looking a lot like Freddie Kruger, says goodbye to his mother and is last seen riding symbolically off into the sunset leaving a trail of heart break, devastation and bits of crispy skin in his wake. Well fuck you too Rick!
Despite the faintly interesting premise and the sight of a gimpy Pitt this film is pretty dull and mildly irritating. Rick is supposed to be a sympathetic character but comes across as cold and selfish the whole time. He shows very little empathy for his father’s pain and forces a girl to fall in love with him days before his death. I think the ending was meant to come across as poignant and sad, it just comes across as hugely depressing.
The director tries to liven things up partway through with the least exciting bike race ever filmed and even throws in a totally gratuitous boob shot but alas it is not enough to save this film from itself. Oh ladies, there is a shot of a topless Pitt holding a puppy, that’s gotta count for something right?