Reviews: Barbarella

Stupid, dated, ill-paced, poorly-executed. And yet...

Barbarella is really not a film I should like. The performances (with two notable exceptions) lack spirit, it takes a while to get to the plot, and it's as bad about cheesecake as modern flicks are about CG effects. And yet, it's a somewhat charming glimpse back into a more innocent past.

The first part of the film is mostly uncompelling filler. None of the sets are that great, and you wonder why our heroine would waste her time putting out for the 2 dead-heads that make up the main cast. Also, without saying too much, let's just say that the climax is uneven and better if you don't think too much about it. But the aesthetic in the Labyrinth and Sogo really came together; its artistic decadence makes me recall the bar in the later film A Clockwork Orange. The people outside toil and suffer while the inhabitants of Sogo live out their skeevy, decadent lifestyle in a city that's a mix of Disneyland and Sodom. It was definitely a very interesting juxtaposition, and it offset the subplot with Dildano that didn't really go anywhere. Its cheeky approach to sexuality, while dated, also made for some laughs (albeit sometimes-unintentional.)

I wasn't too taken by the titular heroine. She had some wit, but she often didn't feel like the main character in what was ostensibly her movie. A lot of stuff just seemed to happen to her that was outside of her control. The two most engaging characters, by far, had to be the Great Tyrant and Durand Durand. The Great Tyrant has a sort of overpowering ego and sexuality, and steals almost every scene she's in (well, except the ones with a certain bird-man.) Durand Durand is the sort of larger-than-life, cackling, mustache-twirling pulp-fiction villain that just doesn't exist nowadays. His actor's performance, combined with the latter third of the film's embrace of the utterly-ridiculous makes that part a joy to watch.

The main reason I watched this film was to see where and why its influence was felt. It's not bad if you want a nice, ridiculous romp. Just don't expect it to make you more cultured, or even keep you awake until the halfway point.