This is what Showgirls would look like if it was directed by an Xbox. It isn’t even campy entertainment. It’s a blitzkrieg of machine-tooled images, devoid of feelings, characters and plot. If people thought movies were in trouble in the 80s (when everything looked like a beer commercial), this is the New Nadir: crap without joy. The whole movie feels like someone’s thumbing your eyeballs. It’s raucous, but without excitement. Even the titillating parts won’t make you sweat. As a trailer, it looked fast and fun and out-of-control. As a movie, it plays like the longest two hours of your life. This is Eat Pray Love, for boys. It should be called Punch Kick Prostitute Yourself. Like Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, it’s not for right-thinking adults.
Trailers are my Achilles heel. I abandon reason when it comes to trailers. And a trailer like this – so thrillingly nonsensical! – was bound to floor me. This is, for me, what Inception should have looked like. The sheer momentum of this thing! Those pounding drums. That killer tagline. The ridiculous, fetishized, sword-wielding heroine…so unstoppable she makes you giddy. I love the fact she seems to be battling the same samurai Jonathan Pryce fought in Brazil. The enthusiasm for mayhem is infectious. Yes, it does seem a bit like exploitation cinema. But Russ Meyer never delivered this kind of adrenaline. Okay, so the plot is baloney. The pitch is: “Alice in Wonderland, with machine guns”. Are you in?
A comic that “deconstructs the mythology of comics” is still a comic. That’s been Alan Moore’s dilemma all along. If he wrote fairy tales he could be Angela Carter, and Watchmen would be his Company of Wolves. But he writes comics. And comics are always hamstrung by their form. Using pictures to tell a story means you lose interiority. There’s only so much depth that can be crammed into a thought bubble. So even though Watchmen does have characters with rich interior lives, we still only glimpse a fraction of the whole. The movie version of Moore’s opus doesn’t conquer its progenitor’s problems, but it’s a stunning-looking miss.