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I *really* wanted to like this movie. In the short period from 1984 to 1987, Alex Cox gave us the Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, Straight to Hell, and Walker (yes, I even liked Walker!). He's sort of foundered ever since, and I was hoping this might be his redemption. I was destined to be very disappointed.
First there's the filming technique. It's done almost entirely on green screen, and then set against backgrounds mostly made of models, many of them literally model train sets. This all seemed naggingly familiar, then hit it hit me: the great Alex Cox had ripped off Thomas the Tank Engine! I guess this was supposed to be surreal and artsy, but it just looked cheap and stupid. Reportedly, he did this to stay below the $200k threshold of the Screen Actors Guild. The thing is, Repo Man was filmed for $160k and (even correcting for inflation) looks about 20 times more professional than this movie.
Although this isn't really a sequel, he puts in a number of the people from the original, but this mostly reminds you that they haven't worked much since. There are also some fairly big name actors, like Patricia Arquette, Karen Black, Chloe Webb, and Miguel Sandoval, and they're completely wasted - with the arguable exception of Sandoval, who does a fairly decent job. It shot in 10 days, using what appears to be a rough draft of a concept for a script. It appears they also did it Ed Wood style, always using the first take.
The plot is a weird mix of heavy handed social commentary and a desperate attempt to capture the quirky magic of Repo man, and it fails at both. Because it's trying so hard, it also fall short in the "so bad it's good" category.
Finally, the music, or lack of it. The iconic soundtrack was the magic pixie dust that turned Repo Man into a timeless gem, and a good soundtrack could even have saved this, at least at some level. However, what little music there is is clearly designed to *remind* us of the original, without stepping on any copyrights or paying any musicians. In the end, that was the last nail in the coffin.
I suppose if you're an Alex Cox fan, you have no choice but to watch this movie, but don't say you weren't warned.
7 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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