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DVD Review: TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)
(COLLECTOR'S EDITION)



Studio: Shout Factory
Year: 1995
Cast: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Rachel Talalay
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Rating: R for (violence, language and sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:44m:04s
Genre(s): action

“Adam was dust before God injected him with life.” - Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell)

TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)

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I'm not alone in saying that I hated this movie when it came out, nearly 20 years ago. Strangely, it's maintained a cult following, since, so I'm anxious to see if my opinion changes after another viewing.

Movie Grade: D

DVD Grade: B+

There are bona fide “cult classics” and some films that are just so bad that they’re, well, just that bad. Having not seen Tank Girl in nearly 20 years, I was hoping that time had allowed Rachel Talalay’s (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare) box office flop to somehow gravitate towards becoming the former rather than the latter. Unfortunately, Tank Girl is still pretty awful, due mostly to Talalay’s shoddy direction, and an overriding tone that may have been perfect for the film’s comic book source material, but simply doesn’t work at all for the movie itself. Still, there must be enough of a cult of supporters for the film, as Shout! Factory has released it on a “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray disc that features rather impressive audio and video transfers, and even a handful of interesting supplements.

Tank Girl’s main curiosity is still the performance of Lori Petty, who portrays the titular character as a tough-as- nails, gender-bending tomboy who isn’t exactly “bringing sexy back,” if you will. This is the same Petty, who, earlier in the 90s, played super-cute, sexy characters in films like Point Break, Free Willy, and A League of Their Own, and now was seemingly trying to totally change her previously successful image in the course of a single role. Considering that Petty has virtually dropped off of the mainstream Hollywood map since the failure of Tank Girl, and seeing her in the lengthy, recently-filmed interview on this disc, the best conclusion to be drawn about her is that she’s nuts. Whether clinically nuts, or just the eclectic personality that she seems to be, it’s difficult to argue that Lori Petty is an incredibly interesting figure that deserves to be seen more to be believed. It’s just a shame that Tank Girl is one of the few chances we have to enjoy her presence.

The one thing that Tank Girl has going for it is its great soundtrack, which is full of tunes that are as great today as they were back in the mid-1990s. From the great Portishead to the legendary Bjork, most of the film has enough awesome songs blaring throughout, making it easier to forget just how ridiculous and usually awful, the on-screen proceedings truly are. The placement of these songs in the film is well done, also, but it only enhances the glaring notion that if more attention had been paid to the editing, screenwriting, and overall direction, then the soundtrack could have served as a bonus and not the lone reason to see the film again.

The video is presented in the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is the beneficiary of a new 1080p transfer. This sparkling new presentation brings the film’s wonderful color palette to life, allowing for bright pastels, deep blacks, and accurate flesh tones throughout. Despite a few, minor, likely age-related specks of dirt and grain, image clarity is top-notch, but the overall look is a natural one. The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio track that does a great job showcasing the film’s awesome music. It also does a nice job with the action sequences, thanks to dynamic use of the surrounds and deep, booming bass. The rather awful dialogue is crystal clear, nonetheless, always working in perfect harmony with the rest of the mix.

The extras on this “Collector’s Edition” include an audio commentary track with Lori Petty and director Rachel Talalay, during which they discuss the aspects of Tank Girl that are in their respective wheelhouses, for the most part. Petty is the more interesting of the two, due mostly to her general craziness, and often funny on-set stories that she remembers incredibly vividly.

There’s also a great, 22-minute recent interview with Petty, during which she touches on every period of her career, including having to constantly deal with being stopped on the street by people wanting to talk about Point Break. We also get a new, 24-minute interview with Talalay, where she goes through the entire production of Tank Girl, and even shows us some very cool props along the way. Even more cool information lies ahead in the next supplement, an 18-minute interview with production designer Catherine Hardwicke, who’s best known now as the director of the first Twilight film. Here, she talks quite a bit about her thinking behind the overall look of Tank Girl, and how she was able to utilize the cool imagery of the source comic books to aid in her production design.

Finishing up the extras is an old, five-minute EPK featurette and the original theatrical trailer for Tank Girl.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - January 17, 2014, 3:03 pm - DVD Review
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