Friday, July 26, 2013

BraveStarr: The Movie (1988)

"From destruction came creation: A new power... a new hope... a new hero... BraveStarr!"

When I first saw the above poster and read a brief plot synopsis, I went in to BraveStarr expecting a grand sci-fi epic with a strong western influence. Unfortunately, all it really amounted to was Cowboy He-Man in Space. I guess I should've known better after seeing the Filmation logo appear onscreen, but I really wanted this movie to be good. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly meet my expectations.

In the far future, there exists a far-off desert planet called New Texas, which has become home to many explorers of the final frontier. It is now under attack by an evil monster called Stampede and his right-hand man, a gun-slingin' sorcerer named Tex Hex. Luckily, the Galactic Marshall, BraveStarr, has been deployed to tame this town. Guided by mystical powers given to him by a wise Shaman, BraveStarr and his friends will take the fight to Tex Hex and free New Texas from the evil clutches of Stampede once and for all!

As fun as the plot may sound, the way the story is presented can be just brutal to sit through. During the first scene, we get to listen to the Shaman talk out loud to himself about how there's this incredible, omnipotent evil power haunting all of New Texas, and that a then-teenage BraveStarr is the only person who can stop it. The problem with this is that he keeps going on and on about this evil power, and yet the audience is given no clue as to what it is, what it looks like, or what makes it evil. After we finally get to see what Stampede looks like, the rest of the first half is just more dry world-building exposition.

Concerning the animation, if you've ever watched an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, then you already have a pretty good idea of how it looks. Almost everything produced by Filmation sports an very similar animation style. Considering BraveStarr: The Movie was a feature-length film released in theaters, though, this is unacceptable. The animation quality does steadily improve over the course of the movie, to what I would consider Filmation's best, but it still doesn't stack up well to its contemporaries.

The characters are all completely two-dimensional in personality, and it's easy to predict what will happen to them later on shortly after they're introduced. However, I found myself enjoying every moment that Tex Hex was onscreen. Much like G.I. Joe's Cobra Commander and He-Man's Skeletor, he just had a certain charm about him that stemmed from his flamboyancy, overwhelming passion for what he does, and constant failure to do so. Eighties cartoon villains, gotta love 'em.

Unless you're a diehard fan of Filmation's other works, and I know there are a lot of you out there, then you can probably skip BraveStarr. Despite my wording, it isn't a terrible movie by any means, just an extremely disappointing one. I did enjoy the score (a lot, actually) and Tex Hex was a very entertaining character, so there were parts that I liked. If anything, it taught me to do a little more research about what I watch before I watch it.

BraveStarr: The Movie was directed by Tom Tataranowicz and was based on the syndicated TV series and action figure line of the same name.

1 comment:

  1. Ah man, this takes me back. I remember the show but I don't think I ever saw the film. "Cowboy He-man in Space" is a pretty good sum up of the series.