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My dad had a strange habit of taping all 48 hours of the free HBO
weekends when I was a kid. Fortunately for me, that's how I found
some of my favorite films! When I'd stay home from school with
the flu, I'd sift through the tapes and watch whatever caught my
eye. After I saw this one, it became my regular "sick day" film and
one I'd watch any time I was just hanging around on a rainy
afternoon. I remember I loved it because it was about kids doing
something about their problems and making the situation better -
heck, they saved the world! That's the kind of film every kid likes!
If you don't love cheesy scifi....are too cool and all, don't bother. I mean it. But if magic alien spheres, weird roller sports, tiretown, and eco warriors make you happy, than this is your movie. It has a subtle beauty. 80s madness at its best. From the misunderstood tribal kid who calls birds to the cool mascot hearing impaired kid, its just, well its just....just see it. The hair and music alone are worth it, even if you do not realize how awesome the story is. Check out the cut offs. The only conceivable reason this movie is not in any hall of fame is because there is no award for Best Cheesy Sci Fi, or ...people just suck. Givin that, I am sure there IS an award somewhere. So do not deny yourself the futuristic bad news bears on skates. Why, afraid you may pull out those old hot pink wheeled roller-skates you know you have? Afraid you may try to save the world in a spray painted tank top? I know I am.
This film is a riot. It's badness is epic. It is hard to know where to
begin in terms of describing the experience of Solarbabies, but one
could start by saying that a central episode involves a chase scene of
children dramatically escaping from a futuristic special-forces police
force by ROLLER SKATING through the DESERT. I am not making this up.
The completely random plot and incredulously goofy bonding/friendship scenes between the child-prisoners and their glowing-ball alien friend could only have been the product of coked-out brainstorming sessions of Hollywood types in the 80s.
Are children lovable prisoners of a Nazi-Fetish, post-apocalyptic corporation/government agency that inexplicably decides to profit by running a child-labor camp in the desert? Check. Are the children also forced to play an arena sport involving roller skates? Check. Does a glowing alien ball appear randomly and befriend the children, with no apparent connection to anything else in the film? Check. Do the children breakdance with the glowing alien ball-friend? Check. Does the glowing alien ball require the children to escape the prison and go on a quest? Yep. Do the children "escape" simply by roller-skating away from the "prison" (through a desert)? Um, yes. Does the glowing alien ball-friend require the children to join hands in a ritualized new-age circle of friendship/love in order to achieve its full glowing alien ball powers? You betcha.
If this movie were any better, I would give it one star. But it charges so far past the normal constraints of the badness boundaries that it comes out on the other side and emerges as something that is actually pretty entertaining and fairly compelling. The bar starts out low, but the filmmakers just keep on lowering it, going way past the zero point, and actually discovering new ways to make a bad movie worse. It is like art in reverse.
OK, it is definitely dated looking, but so is Real Genius, which is my
all time favorite. It's not like it's Howard The Duck or something! I
love cheesy 80's movies, and this is one for which I am waiting with
baited breath to be released on DVD. I mean, look at Tron, total
cheese, great movie!
Classics are sometimes classics because of their nostalgic value and what they offered at the time. This movie features some of the 80's biggest stars, not to mention a few who have continued with successful TV shows and film. Lukas Haas is so pickin' cute, and James LeGros is terrific as the bratty Metron.
Honestly, if someone saw Star Wars for the very first time nowadays, they would roll their eyes and walk out. Watch this with an open mind, and you'll enjoy it!
After about 20 years of having little more than vague memories of this
movie rollerskating about in my head, I finally broke down and
All I can say is, well, bless them for trying. It really isn't a BAD movie... it does manage to be entertaining even though it occasionally drags. The only problem is that it borrows a lot from other movies and never seems to decide on a style of its own.
Overall I didn't feel as drawn in to the story as I'd hoped, but despite the somewhat vague plot and generic characters, it was still good fun. And if nothing else, it teaches us that all we really need to set things right in the world are friendship and roller skating. And maybe a magic ball from outer space.
"Solarbabies" apparently wasn't given much of a theatrical release by MGM. After seeing the movie, I can understand why they apparently decided to cut their losses. To be fair, the outdoor locations are pretty eye-catching (the movie was shot in Spain), and the sets look like some serious money and time was spent on their construction. But aside from those things, there's not much more praiseworthy to bring up. The movie is really confusing at times, with several plot points brought up so suddenly in the narrative that I'm pretty confident I'm correct in thinking the movie was severely cut in the editing room, taking away the introduction and explanation to these plot points. Despite this editing, there are still plenty of ridiculous things to be found in the movie, like the youths getting around in this post-apocalypse world on roller-skates. But most of these ridiculous things are just mildly amusing, not insane enough to make this worth seeing on a camp level. Will anyone like it? Well, I have an idea that (very young) kids - especially kids who have not seem many better fantasy movies - might get some enjoyment out of it, but I'm sure they'll still question a lot of the movie's incoherent moments.
This one seems to be everyones pet hate for some reason, but it really doesn't deserve all that bad press. It is a more than decent sci-fi movie in Road Warrior territory. The rulers use water shortage to upress the masses but the magic ball Bodai and The Solarbabies on rollerskates take up the fight. Nice work by Lucas Haas and the beautiful Jamie Gertz, a highly underrated actress. High budget insures high productionvalues, this film both look and sounds good. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What is it about this silly piece of 1980's scifi cheese that makes it
so much fun to watch? "Solarbabies" (easily one of the worst titles in
movie history) is unlike any movie you've ever seen before, if only
because is has so much fun being so freaking bizarre.
The plot of the movie is basically irrelevant, a mishmash of every 80's scifi movie cliché imaginable - plus roller skates. A group of post-apocalyptic teenagers take on the fascist water-hoarders by, among other things, roller skating across the desert (honest to God!) and attacking the bad guys' superfortress with hockey sticks and a glowing bouncy ball. Think "Mad Max" meets "Starlight Express." Once you start watching, you'll be hooked. Probably a great movie to watch while wasted.
OK, firstly, you are watching (or about to watch) a movie called
'Solarbabies'. If that doesn't deter you, then you are probably at
least semi-aware of what you are getting yourself into, and why.
Meaning: if you are not a connoisseur of badly-aged cheese, you
probably shouldn't be here.
As far as C-grade postapocalyptic movies from the 80s are concerned, this is one of the weirder ones, but very entertaining if you are into that sort of thing. The movie is for a younger audience, so no T&A or gratuitous blood & gore. However, its most audacious gamble is the way it channels postapocalyptic fascism, oppression, torture, truncheon violence (of note is the amazing Orwell-style "indoctrination" scene), and sexual desire through the prism of roller-skating, packaging it to the unsuspecting bunch of tweens & teens whose parents didn't allow them to see Mad Max when it came out.
So yeah! This group of orphans calling themselves Solarbabies basically just wants to play a futuristic combination of roller hockey and lacrosse all the time, but they are jailed up in a postapocalyptic concentration camp/police academy for 'orphans', with a heavy roller- blading component. (They can sneak out, though - the rules are pretty lax, since they are in the middle of a desert wasteland and water is scarce.) If you are sufficiently cruel, you get to join the ranks of the E-Police. If you aren't E-Police material, you are probably going to end up a hard laborer (presumably on rollerblades as well), or worse yet, be sent in for 'surgical alteration'. Anyway, one of the Solarbabies finds a magical orb in a cave and befriends it. Of course, the E-Police hate the orb and wish to destroy it. There's also a guy that befriends crows and stuff...roll film!
AWESOME: the locations (filmed in Spain, the sets give the scenery the expanse it needs to work); the level of heavy-handed oppression, courtesy of the head E-Police chief and his weird update on the Nazi commandant uniform; great chase-and-destroy scenes with armored vehicles and two shantytowns; the sexual innuendos; lasers; finally, the torture scene!! Remember, you are watching a children's movie about a magical glowing orb that befriends some orphans.
LAME: the glowing orb; the feelings of good cheer the children experience when hanging out and playing roller hockey with the orb (by that, I mean they use the sentient orb as a puck); the eco-hippy stuff; the lame attempt to make this into a metaphor for growing up confused and trying to find your place in a vast and soulless world; the lack of more oppression and truncheons in the film.
LACKING: T&A, David Carradine
Most who underestimate the magic of this movie are forgetting one
thing: they are forgetting the power of the sphere, aka the Bodhi
(spelling varies). I will speak more about the Bodhi in a moment, but
first let me get to the particulates of the story.
The setting is a futuristic, distopian desert community held under the iron rule of the militaristic E-police. Behavioral impulses are under strict control; moreover, water is scarce, thus the E-police punish any rebelliousness by taking away the offending party's water privileges. The only notable means for stress relief and entertainment come in the form of "skateball" games, which could be loosely compared to our own hockey. (Roller-skates play a large role in the movie.) Our band of heroes is composed of a ragtag team known as the Solarbabies--despite their unorthodox manners and home-made suits, they never lose.
Things soon get more complex than mere skateball games, however, when one of the lads stumbles across the aforementioned Bodhi. The orb is immediately seen to have benign powers, but it soon falls into other hands and is taken out of the city. This conflict forms the crux of the film, as the Solarbabies venture into the forbidding desert in order to track it down and hopefully harness its powers of good.
On my last viewing of the film, I took extensive notes about the Bodhi and all that it signifies. Without wanting to delve too deeply, I will simply say that this peaceful and loving orb responds well to the good in people. It seems linked to rain, purity, hope, and water in general--a staple of life that is precious in their realm. To say more might be to give too much away, so I will leave it at that.
The actors perform surprisingly well considering their relatively unknown names. The head of the E-police is a man named Strictor Grock, a man who enjoys enforcing the draconian laws a little too much. He's not a unique sort of villain in this sense, but the actor plays his part well. Another scene-stealer is a relative outcast named Darstar, who has a spiritual kinship with birds, and whose motives are not immediately clear. The Solarbabies themselves are led by young adults Terra and Jason, whose on-screen chemistry ties the film together nicely. They embody a quality of youthful goodwill that left me caring deeply about these characters, despite my initial misgivings about the movie's production values.
Terra in particular seemed tied to the Bodhi in a sense, perhaps through that old theory that women are more spiritually connected to water than men are. Well, I can't expound on the deeper, real-world implications of this old philosophy, but in this specific story, the connection works quite effectively. "The scent of purest water hangs in the air to be savored, before the first large warm drops fall," she reads aloud from a book of poetry near the beginning. "Then, within seconds, the air is no more, replaced by a vertical curtain of falling water. The land drinks and the earth is refreshed." I must say, I felt myself soothed and comforted by her words, and by her caring, community-minded presence in the movie in general. If one were to consider the Bodhi as a symbol for the earth, then Terra could be seen as the tender of that earth, a sort of nourishing goddess, if you will. Again, it's an old theory, but the movie develops it well.
Anyway, Solarbabies is a rewarding watch, if you happen to be inclined to such stories and themes. I give it one out of one sphere (or 9 out of 10 stars, for those of you who don't use the single-sphere system of rating things :) ).
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