Film Review: Battling the Red Windmills
There's more madcap, monster movie mayhem on the way: the studio who brought us the fantastic flick Zeman-zilla vs Klaus Kong are finally ready with their sequel, Attack of the Red Windmills: The endless conflict (for general release on 25 February 2000).
Ever since "ZZvKK," the nation has been demanding a sequel from Prague-based Thank You Now Please Leave Studios. And who can blame them?
Who could forget that fantasy sequence in "ZZvKK" in which both monsters magically vanish into thin air when a few small boys in a school playground simply ask them nicely to leave? One of cinema's golden moments of tragicomedy if ever there was one.
And who could forget those lines from the epiphany scene, when the monster-fighting heroes stand before an enthusiastic crowd of supporters...
"People! Those two monsters must be slain!"
"Yes! Yes! We are with you, our brave warriors!"
"No, no, no, wait... what do you mean 'with us'? We're not going to do battle with those evil fire-breathing beasts. We just sort of thought it might be nice if those nasty monsters went away, that's all."
"But we want you to slay them."
"Well, uh... yes... but, uh... Now, look here, we're not really fighters; we're just little people, you know, film directors and former students and that sort of thing."
"But we offer you this fantastic new laser gun. It gives you the power of a million men. With that, you can defeat them!"
"Well, uh... thanks, yeah, really, but, uh... I think we have to go direct films or study or something. Have a nice day."
That was one of those most memorable bits of cinematic drama, and I am sure that's what clinched the film's producers the coveted Silver Cuckoo Award, the first such prize the revived studio has received since they swept the awards ten years ago with the runaway box-office success Revolt Like the Neighbours.
Now comes their latest offering, Attack of the Red Windmills: The endless conflict, and the studio is expecting yet another hit.
The film opens with a group of twentysomethings meeting in secret to share the pain they feel after living under the oppressive Regime of the Red Windmills for four long decades.
They hatch a plan to do battle with the windmills, which, interestingly, don't even turn anymore because the strong winds from the East which kept them going just don't blow anymore. There's a suggestion that this is due to global warming, but the script really doesn't make it very clear.
The film is presented in such vivid colour and with such spectacular special effects (dizzying lights and smoke screens), that you'd almost think those windmill monsters were alive and in the cinema with you. But, of course, that couldn't be, because at the exclusive preview screening I went to anyway, someone had thoughtfully posted signs on the cinema door which read, "Windmills, stay home!"
Certainly, I wouldn't break with tradition by giving away the ending here, but I will say that I was a bit disappointed with this film. This youthful team of screenwriters, directors and actors really had their finger on the pulse of the movie-going nation ten years ago, and even last year's offering managed to pull in substantial crowds.
But with Attack of the Red Windmills, Thank You Now Please Leave Studios are showing their age; those once-youthful creative talents now seem past their prime.
My guess is that audiences won't turn up in nearly the same numbers as they did for this studio's earlier productions. Word will get out that the script is formulaic and worn and that the lack of climax is not cleverly creative as the creators intended, but merely infuriatingly frustrating.
Then again, I could be wrong; after all, this is such a slow season for cinema buffs, that they may go in for this one just because it's the only thing on. And with Attack of the Red Windmills, at least they can still enjoy a bit of nostalgia for those earlier cinematic marvels.