Monday, June 27, 2011

Give Us Your Worst, Part 1: Barb Wire

Barb Wire is either one of the worst movies we've ever seen or a brilliant work of subversive filmmaking, and we're fairly certain it's not a brilliant work of subversive filmmaking.

We should begin by mentioning we have some familiarity with the source material: years ago, we collected a number of Dark Horse Comics, including several which included the character this movie was ostensibly based on. We say "ostensibly," because the entire premise of the comics seemed to be abandoned and replaced with a generic post-apocalyptic battlefield.

We should probably also mention that the film's plot structure, characters, and ending were all intended as either a tribute to or a facsimile of Casablanca. It was, from a cynical point of view, almost a remake. If we worked on or were related to anyone who had worked on Casablanca, we'd feel awfully insulted right now.

One does not view a movie like Barb Wire with the expectation of seeing something good, however we were surprised to find that the movie was actually significantly more awful than we were expecting. The movie passed beyond boring almost immediately, into a state of hyper-dullness, the existence of which had previously only been hypothesized by theoretical physicists. To say the movie made no sense belies the depth of its stupidity: not only did the film fail to come together as a whole, not only did individual characters make no sense in their motives and traits, but individual scenes failed to follow basic laws of logic and continuity. In a real sense, this movie was a fractal of irrationality: the closer you looked at any detail, the dumber it became.

This affects the watcher in an almost existential fashion. Staring into so twisted and vapid an abyss, the mind reels, trying to find some shred of logic to grasp hold of. And, in such a stupor, we found meaning.

Barb Wire can be viewed as the inevitable result of the objectification of women in comics. The outfits worn by Pamela Anderson are actually fairly accurate to her comic origins. In turn, her character design in the comics is devolved from the superheroines before her. The movie character is every comic book woman in a twisted funhouse mirror: all stylization and cartoonish charm stripped away, we're left with a reality so warped, it's literally sickening to watch.

In this sense, Barb Wire becomes a cautionary tale to those who produce and encourage such poor artistic sensibilities. This movie's existence was a result of momentum, an unavoidable consequence of the sins of the comic industry. The significance of this realization is truly horrific: it will probably happen again.

It will, in all likelihood, not be Barb Wire adapted but another character, and yet the result will be same: a long, dull production whose existence tarnishes the image of both film and comics alike.

And, worse still, we'll have to sit through that monstrosity, as well. Because we have sworn to.

We beg the industry responsible to turn back while there's still time. But we fear it may already be too late.

No comments: