Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: The Time Guardian

The Time Guardian is an 80s Australian movie starring the man from Snowy River, a pretty Aussie woman, and, for reasons unknown, Carrie Fisher. I never quite figured out what was going on in this movie and I'm not going to watch it again to find out. I think it was trying to be Australia's answer to The Terminator.

In the far future, cyborgs have killed all of humanity except for some stragglers in a time-traveling city, which the cyborgs continually attack because they want the power source. Our hero Ballard, a soldier, makes a garbled speech that involves a plan to travel to the Aussie Outback circa 1988 - I honestly don't know why but he's very angry and very earnest about it, so it must be their only hope. He and Carrie Fisher go on ahead a day or so to build a rock pile so the damaged city can land without toppling over.

Yes, the fate of all humanity depends on two people building a rock pile.

In 1988 Ballard meets Annie, a cute geologist in pleated (arrgh!) white (arrgh!) cuffed (arrrrrgh!) shorty-shorts who's already been treated badly at the tiny outback township where half the action takes place. This town consists of one street and a dozen buildings, but has three, count 'em, three cops, all of whom are gun-totin' dicks. I can buy one or even two being dicks, but all three? There's a Confederate flag in the police station office. I'm not sure an Aussie audience would even recognize what that is, and I don't know what it's doing there.

Ballard needs an "earth transposer" to make his rock pile. On their way to town to find one, Annie and Ballard come across a truck with a dead driver. The guy was electrocuted or frozen or something by an energy whirlpool from a time disturbance. Or something. They put the body under a tarpaulin in the back of Annie's truck and drive it into town, where the cops are kind of suspicious even though Ballard says "It's not what you think."

The local earth-mover-store owner won't take credit, so Ballard throws him about 30 feet through a plate glass window, badly cutting up his face, to make him change his mind. Now, I can buy that Ballard would use violence because he's desperate (if he doesn't build his rock pile, the entire future will change, which come to think of it doesn't really matter when you can travel about through time at will). But Annie's reaction is to laugh about it as they drive off.

This kind of thing really really bugs me. See here and here.

After watching Ballard abuse an innocent man and beat up a couple of cops with his kung fu mojo, she's ready to have sex with him. Because, ya know, that's all it takes. He's not so sure until she whips off her top and shows him her wares. Then he's all for it.

Forgot to mention that some cyborgs followed Ballard and Carrie Fisher back in time and are hiding out until it's dark (they are light-sensitive, the poor dears). Also forgot to mention that Carrie Fisher gets shot early on and is out of commission for most of the movie, which is okay because she's not convincing me with her performance.

Actually, no one is convincing me, let alone elucidating the plot for me. We keep crossing back to the future where people are wearing puffy quilted costumes with big circles stitched on them and are yelling and speechifying and there's an old scientist who dresses in a duck suit, and he's trying to convince people that he can use the energy from the timestream to thwart the cyborgs but they just won't listen! He only now came up with the idea, which is a bit odd, but it turns out to be important.

Back in 1988, the nastiest of the cops gets pulled into the future by a cyborg arm that reaches through a fragment of one of the giant beach balls the cyborgs use to move through time. His demise serves no plot purpose, which is annoying. We never see him again. We don't know if he gets his just desserts for feeling up Annie in jail (see below) or if he becomes the cyborg overlord. We just don't know.

So, Annie and Ballard end up in jail - I don't remember why, probably because of the dead body. A handful of cyborgs arrive at the police station thanks to one of the cops setting off a beacon while he's fiddling with Ballard's futuristic armband. This armband serve two functions: (1) it sets off a beacon that the cyborgs respond to, which is frankly a stupid feature, and (2) it sends you to sleep when you've been injured, which is more useful but somewhat unrelated to (1). It's like having a gum boot that also hangs curtains.

Our favorite couple escapes and Ballard finds the police station's arsenal of semi-automatic weapons. In case you didn't know, every outback town has one of those. While he has fun with his new toys, he leaves Annie defenseless in the kitchen. She upturns a fridge to no avail, and then sets a cyborg on fire from the handy dandy stove and throws a propane bottle on it. It explodes. Yay. (These cyborgs seem rather easy to kill.)

At some point the rock pile gets built, no thanks to Ballard who spends his time shoveling sand from here to there, there being half a meter from here. The city from the future materializes, the cyborgs show up, and a dramatic battle ensues. Did I say dramatic? I meant to say dorky. Idiot Annie refuses to leave and gets herself into trouble, which inspires Carrie Fisher to suicidally leap into the arms of a cyborg in order to save her.

The scientist/duck, who has been shot, tells Ballard about his under-appreciated idea with the timestream energy. Ballard goes off to stick his arms in the timestream and before you know it he's wielding a big fat energy cannon. I don't know how that happened. Just take my word for it. He vaporizes the cyborgs, but not before making an angry earnest speech. All the cyborgs stop fighting to listen to it, which makes them easy targets when the vaporizing begins.

Annie puts on a futuristic outfit (admittedly an improvement over the shorts) because she's going to live in the future now, and kisses her man. (That's Ballard, in case you're not following me.)

I couldn't help but notice that the entire plot - the time travel, the rock pile, the cops, the fridge, the geologist and her nipples, all of it, although possibly not the duck suit - is totally irrelevant. The timestream energy cannon that saves the day has nothing to do with anything else that happens. Also, who the hell puts a dead body they just found into the back of their truck? 

But there's a happy ending: I picked the DVD out of the bargain bin - only $2 for a painful yet hilarious night's entertainment for myself and MCP.


Tez Miller said...

Yay for unintentional comedy ;-)

Sam_Wiser said...

I don't know if this was your intent but now I want to see this movie.

MCPlanck said...

Carrie Fisher was unbearable in this flick. Seriously, unwatchable.

I loved the scene where our hero and heroine get separated and attacked by cyborgs. He struggles to load a sub-machine gun and then shoot his to death; meanwhile, she kills her attacker with a kitchen stove and a bottle of propane. The director was apparently unaware of the contrast that presented.

Also, how cool was it to have an Aussie outback town whose entire population seems to consist of half-a-dozen adult men, and yet they can't wait to chase one hot young bra-less blond girl out of town.

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