I mean, I had to check it out, didn't I?
Is it too much to want even a glimpse of a happy ending to Blake's 7? Just a smidgen of hope? It didn't have to be a 'they all lived happily ever after', it could have been the hideously cynical sort where all our heroes survive but each one believes the others are all dead and lose all faith in the rebellion - Vila becomes a bartender in a GP pub, Soolin becomes a combined hooker/showgirl to get off the planet, the amnesiac Dayna becomes a homeless beggar waiting for Servalan to turn up, Tarrant becomes a crippled mercenary, and Avon and Blake end up both disillusioned in the same intensive care unit.
Would it really spoil some vast eternal plan to merely hint it wasn't all an agonizing waste of time and energy?
And so, I start watching the film.
And it quickly becomes obvious that this is an American film, actually quite cheap, a sort of Starship Troopers deal seemingly being written and directed by people who were very stoned and seemingly trying to evoke the kind of narrative you'd expect in The Young Ones, or maybe Monty Python. But I'm stunned at the title - Recon 2025: The Gauda Prime Conspiracy. Why the hell name it that? I mean, if there was a Bruce Willis flick entitled Return to Gallifrey, would you honestly consider it unreasonable to expect some kind of Doctor Who connection? How did they not google "Gauda Prime" and find out it was already mildly famous? Did they do that and keep the name in the belief a hoard of B7 fans would tune in for the hope of some bitchy computers and wisecracking rebels?
It starts off promisingly with a starscape and a suitably B7 quote from Winston Churchill about how a handful of people can change the course of history.
And then suddenly it cuts to a Voyager-type probe getting smashed to pieces in the asteroid belt as a xylophone rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star echoes. Years later, the ruins of the probe fall to Earth and somehow manages to avoid being either shot down or burnt up in the atmosphere so it can trigger a deep impact like shockwaves. What does this have to do with anything? Beats me.
Onto a spaceship that looks disturbingly like a cross between Zukan's pimped-up planet hopper and GP flyer where a bunch of dog-tagged marines are trying not to crash into a planet in Orion's Belt. Are they deliberately going there? Have they wandered off course? No idea, as the Chinese pilot swears mighteously about what a piece of crap their ship is while the other marines off sub-Vila witticisms. Just when it looks like they're about to land safely in a CGI BBC quarry, a CGI floating robot appears, scans the ship in a viewfinder not a trillion miles away from the opening titles of B7 series four, and promplty nukes the damn thing.
The toughass bitch of the expedition wakes up in the ruins, skewered through her leg and being tormented by zombies of former soldiers who are in a bad mood because she survived all the battles they managed not to. But this turns out to be a dream of toughass bitch, as the resident medic... or gynaecologist... has removed the thing from her leg. Although he's clearly a Verkoffian sex-obsessed jerk, I don't think he deserves the abuse she gives him after he saved her life. I mean, from the way she's acting she might as well have woken up to being turkey-slapped while a web cam recorded it all. Together with Sharpe (the black guy who does most of the talking) and the Chinese pilot, they loiter around the edge of the set discussing whether or not they should hang around until the ship explodes and finally decide to leg it with a Double-the-Fist-style screenwipe of CGI flame.
Limping across the quarry, the team then do a patented Funky Squad "dive-to-avoid-massive-explosion-right-behind them" but slightly mistime it, hugging the earth long before the ship blows up.
And then it becomes a crackly 1970s porno which, incredibly disturbingly, seems to have the theme music from Doctor Who. The plot, such as it is, is seemingly an episode of USA Life on Mars that got entirely out of hand with Sam Tyler taking down Guy Sebastian in a car park and claiming as his prize the Swedish blonde. As an idea of the quality on offer, Tyler takes off his jacket and informs the blonde "That was the foreplay". Not to be outdone, the blonde strips to show the most ridiculous tits in human history. I think Stephen Fry in his Blackadder Boobs would be a more convincing picture of the female form than this girl. Maybe it's the seeming strap between the two static glands that gives that impression. I dunno.
After Tyler and Titanious-Tit-Monger make out in a bath of suds, Tyler wakes up in hospital. It turns out he was the gynaecologist marine earlier who has been rescued but, alas, has suffered some wierd space nightmare thing. Unlike normal people, however, he turned it into a wet dream and immediately starts strutting around butt naked pulling some crappy chat-up lines to the nurse. The nurse is not impressed, especially as she seems to be having a relationship with Sharpe (and oddly enough her claim to 'have all the time in the galaxy' sounds crapper than any of the porno dialogue, even 'You can make it up to be in 69 separate ways'.)
Onto the mess, which is under armed guard as all the marines (wearing one-size-fits-all black T-shirts with Galactic Marine printed in yellow) are having dinner in the form of corn and chicken. We meet First Base - basically John Safran with a porn mag collection - trying to get friends with a badass Asian guy who can't act, while toughass bitch (I think) bitches at Tyler (I think). Meanwhile, a brunette girl with some bitching sci-fi scars on her face sits down next to a dude in sunglasses who resembles Deadpool (or any other freakishly-burnt bald-guy you care to name) whose expression is frozen in a contemptuous sarcastic "What the fuck do you think?" expression. The brunette tries to break the ice by noticing that, you know, they're both kinda scarred. So Deadpool takes off his shades to show freaky white eyes. Whereupon the Brunette snatches up a submachine gun and fires it all the eating soldiers in a ridiculous display (all the speaking cast hide under a table, while one guy seemingly tries to catch the fired bullets in his hands until some other marine rugby-tackles him to safety). Just when it looks like everyone's going to let her run out of ammo, Deadpool pops up behind her and slits her throat.
Toughass bitch is furious at the silent Deadpool for this uneccessary slaughter, but Tyler is seemingly desperate to placate Deadpool by explaining that toughass bitch is having her period today and thus should not be taken seriously when she gets upset over her friends being mindlessly slaughtered. Deadpool isn't impressed by this appropach either.
Meanwhile, a fat guy is trying to fix a Mutoid-like chick who is suffering nightmare dream things herself. The fat guy is pissed off in equal measure that this GM solider is suffering malfunctions, and also that she didn't at all react to his brilliantly-observed Phillip K Dick joke about the electronic sheep. I know, what a bitch. Who is she, again?
Well, ex-psycho-brunette gets shove into a suspiciously-B7-like space coffin as Sharpe has LSD visions of her when she was a little girl. And blonde. As I'm 80% sure the deceased girl was in no other part of the film, this is an incredible focus on a glorified extra. Sharpe then goes and visits his boss, who lives in a Hawaii-style bamboo hut with a plastic naked hula-girl on his desk and a hooker on his arm. This is the point where I begin to wonder if the film is taking the piss, and the boss's insistence he has customized this bit of spaceship to resemble "Old Earth" as a theraputic aide doesn't change my opinion. As both he and Sharpe (while on duty) start knocking back booze, some effort is made to explain the plot.
Humanity is under siege by some freaky telepathic aliens who attack via dreams. OK. Anything else? No? Oh. Well, anyway, Sharpe and his "team" are to make an offensive assault on the alien scumbags and the boss offers his own concubine to help out with this amazingly important strategic maneuver. Presumably she'll be the Morale Officer and keeping Tyler's libido in line, since I'm not sure I trust the war effort with a woman who is unable to pronounce the word "legendary", do you? Apparently, I'm not too far of the mark as she won't be doing much but acting cryptic, need-to-know and stuff. There is also a quick-talking chirpy Indian dude who will be able to switch off the machinery that controls the nightmare inducing bollocks. The Chinese pilot lady (Loo Ann) turns up thirty seconds late and sober, which pisses the boss off a lot. After humiliating her, the boss uses the ancient Chatham chant of "anyway, moving on" and promptly ignores her, telling them that they also have a bunch of Mutoid Android things to act as shock troops for this assault.
Finally some justification for the title - the aliens are working on Gauda Prime (and they pronounce it correctly too), a CGI desert that seems a good bet for being the focus of an alien mind war. The moment the nightmare machine is trashed, humanity will take on a simultaneous assault on every alien planet and nuke the bastards in an instant. Sharpe is slightly pissed off that, despite knowing where the alien home planet is, no one has done a damn thing about it before now for reasons which the boss explains (between maitais) are "classified". Well, there's the Gauda Prime and Conspiracy revealed. Only half an hour into the narrative, too.
Pausing only to be given anti-nightmare injections, Sharpe gathers his team -
- the badass female pilot who has a crush on the leader (Lou Ann)
- the overcompensating tough girl (Toughass Bitch)
- the asshole genius (Indian Nerd)
- the likeable comic relief loser (John Safran)
- the big psycho who lost his whole family to the enemy (Psycho Asian)
- the irritating arrogant comic relief who everyone hates (Tyler)
- the cryptic know-it-all plot device (the concubine)
Sharpe's 7, if you will.
(Oh and there's Deadpool, but as he has no lines or any real point other than freaking out toughass bitch, he might as well be a recurring prop.)
After managing not to delay the mission to bonk his ex (the nurse), Sharpe and his misfits head for the Soolin System, which contains Gauda Prime. Yes, I am not making this up. But the fact this bollocks was somehow written and filmed makes me despair that some Blake's 7 sequel wasn't. I know of at least four scripts out there, not including my own, and not ONE was considered better than this?!?
Arriving in the desert under the twin suns, Tyler jumps up and down on a tiny CGI crab, muses he never noticed the crew also comprized of very obvious red shirts, and the a giant CGI crab scuttles unconvincingly into view, but Tyler's too damn stupid to notice until the last second, where the crab snips the head off the red shirt (whose severed head explodes, like them aliens in First Wave).
What follows is enough time for an ice age to come and go as the entire squad very, very slowly, walk towards this CGI crab, occasionally shooting at it with patently-harmless bullets that bounce off its unconvincing shell. In slow motion. More than enough time for you to ponder why, having cracked intergalactic travel, androids and such, they only have normal bullets. Or why they're wasting what little ammo they have on a slow-moving cartoon crab instead of simply running away. Things get surreal when Psycho Asian screams "DESTROY ALL MONSTERS!" in his native language, like the dude in American Dad no one quite understands (like that brilliant one where the gang all shake hands and say what a pleasure it is to have known each other, and he's actually saying "BASTARD! YOU HAVE KILLED US ALL!!!" to Steve Smith).
So Psycho Asian easily runs underneath the giant crab and shoots it. For some reason this is a huge victory that makes everyone marvel at the size of Psycho Asian's balls... even though the giant crab is still alive and unharmed. They then decide to shoot it with some missiles. And that doesn't kill it either. And then Lou Ann chucks a grenade at it, leading to a CGI blaze of blood and fire mostly off screen. Everyone then praises Psycho Asian, and only Sharpe even hints he noticed that it was Lou Ann who did a damn thing to stop the monster.
In orbit around Earth 2 in the Sanctuary System is the New Whitehouse... a space station that bizarrely resembles a hammer and sickle from the Russian flag. Inside, a goth girl looking disconcertingly like Eliza Dushku yet acting like Servalan at her sluttiest, flirts outrageously with Sharpe's nurse-shaped ex. Servie wants a wounded Mutoid "Cyberman" rebooted and the nurse happens to be the best cybernetics robot expert cum medic in the galaxy... who also oddly enough was not used by the powers that be to help build the bloody thing in the first place. Seemingly only wanting the Cyberman restored so Servie can shag it till her pelvis shatters, the nurse agrees while her new boss continues with the sexual harrassment. Seemingly it only needs two wires fixed to revive the Cyberman, who has a drill attachment on his forearm. For some reason. And this is technically referred to as "the Kill Drill".
Back on Gauda Prime, Lou Ann is piloting her flyer/shuttle thing and Tyler has decided that, even though his last encounter with alien flora was pretty nasty, he should pick up a giant egg and have it for lunch. How fucking retarded is this guy? How fucking retarded is everyone else in the team that, after noting this completely suicidal course of action, immediately forget all about it so they can all try and chat up tough bitch? Why haven't they noticed the tire tracks in the desert? But more important things are happening at "the shit end of Pisces" (according to the caption), on a rain-soaked Endor-like moon of jungles and military installations. Actually this is just a flashback to when Tyler was watching holo-porn in the rain with his usual professionalism. After about another hour of Sharpe and Tough Bitch wandering through the damp jungles while Tyler tries to jack off in the rain, he only serves to electrocute himself on the malfunctioning hologram-projector. All of this filmed with the gravitas of Citizen Kane. With Wagner in the background. The moral of this story is that Tyler now becomes incredibly aroused at the mere presence of water. Even the Mutoid-Android chick thinks this punchline is lame.
Sharpe's 7 arrive at the rendezvous - a rather empty patch of desert and it's clear they're lost. Or been betrayed. But then it turns out that the reinforcements, some more Mutoid-Android chicks (Lara, Sara, Tara and Mara), were just on the other side of the hill and there was no cause for alarm. Tyler starts lusting for some "Stepford Action" and even John Safran thinks this is just getting far too trouserial around here. Once Tyler has given a long speech justifying his sexual abnormalities, everyone decides to head out, totally missing the fact they're passing a half-buried dinosaur skeleton. For a loooooooooooooooooooooong time.
Finally the movie makers realize we just have had as much 'wandering around in a quarry' as we can possibly take and so we cut to Servie and Deadpool having a three way with an Asian chick who has eschewed the option of the fake Swedish porn breasts, presumably to ensure we don't get confused and think she's an android. And then Deadpool cuts her throat open and leaves Servie with the dying girl which is, apparently, "hot". The romantic opera score makes this even more disturbing than it might appear. It seems the girl was going to betray Servie to the Chief Counsellor, hence this rather strange execution (seemingly for the pleasure of a CGI alien skeleton watching) and in probably the wittiest scene in the movie so far, Servie shoves the corpse out of bed, only to realize there's blood everywhere: "Fuck. I liked those sheets!"
While John Safran and Tyler discuss whether or not the mutoids are hitting on them, Sharpe does what any good space warfare commander does - taking time off the mission to ring up his ex and ask how her day's going. Unaware that the Cyberman is eavesdropping, the nurse fobs Sharpe off with some conversational pleasantries. Meanwhile, Psycho Asian is looking at a photo of his dog. The aliens killed his wife and his kids, but it was the dog that broke his heart. Meanwhile Indian Nerd is bitching how no one appreciates his genius. Tyler is trying to fry his egg with a laser pointer, and John Safran fails to order the Mutoids to have gay sex in front of him. But what's this, it turns out Servie is, in fact, that cryptic hooker from earlier! I think. I'm not sure...
Only another 41 minutes to go...
Deadpool arrives on Gauda Prime and immediate serves the plot by... sitting on his ass in the desert and holding up his collection of severed human ears against his lobeless head to see if any matches. None do. That whole 'collecting women's ears in a bucket' gag from Coupling seems demeaned by mere association. And, OK, Deadpool is an ear-collecting psycho, but he can't get a proper mirror in 2025? Really?
Meanwhile, because it's quite clear this 100 minute film needs all the help it can get, Tyler begins his own cut-down origin flashback - it turns out his dad bribed the educational authorities to accept his son as a qualified doctor despite him being a functional moron and his gynaecological skills left a lot to be desired ("You got the wrong hole!" Oh, get me a corset, my sides have split!) but he signed on to the army because he followed a hot chick into the recruitment office. I suddenly know and understand the asshole, ahem, character, so much more all of a sudden.
Tyler tried to crack the hard boiled egg, and once again the mother of this native lifeform manages to creep up behind him with no one noticing, and then rip the head off the bloke next to him - in this case, poor John Safran - and we're left with Tyler running for his life chased by a giant CGI hen. Even Sharpe can only boggle at this near Terry Gilliam insanity on display as Tyler finally remembers he has a machine gun... and tries to shoot the cross betwixt chicken and velociraptor, who in turn begins trying Matrix-style kung-fu moves. Yes, a knung fu giant chicken in a quarry. You're suddenly feeling a lot more forgiving to the Myrka aren't you?
Tyler finally manages to trick this giant chicken into falling off a cliff... whereupon we next see him eating a normal-sized KFC drumstick and getting evil looks for eating the CGI poultry. I would have thought the "repeatedly getting your own men killed and ignoring orders" would get a bit more of a complaint, but no. This guy is a bigger threat than any damn alien telepaths. "What's wrong with this damn planet!" Tyler wails - for a start, Roj freaking Blake isn't on it fighting the evil federation of starship troopers, damn you!
Deadpool meanwhile springs into action after Servie gives him an erotic phone call in her underwear. He uses a remote to switch off two of the Mutoids, rips out their green-goo-filled batteries, then stabs Indian Nerd in the back. Just then tough bitch arrives and wonders what Deadpool is doing, half a galaxy out of bounds, standing over a dead body and cutting its ears off. After a pause, Deadpool clearly twigs she STILL hasn't put two and two together and thus is too stupid to live, and thus a pissweak hand fight begins. Dayna and a Space Rat looks like Kill Bill compared to this.
Psycho Asian arrives, rolls his eyes and - using that unconventional genius that got him where he is today - opens fire on Deadpool, who runs for his pathetic life. Sharpe takes this opportunity to break out the big guns of stupid: first, he finally reveals what everyone's names are, and second, he gets everyone to split up. Tyler takes this opportunity to get a nice nap until another CGI rooster wakes him up the next day and he tries to chat up his mutoid pal by regaling her with how angsty and guilt-ridden he is by the sudden reduction of speaking parts. But he admits to having a "certain kinship" with Deadpool, as they both really like porn.
After circumnavigating a herd of migrating CGI things that look like a cross between HR Geiger's alien and a diplodocus, Deadpool tries to steal the spaceship Sharpe's now-less-than-7 arrived in, not realizing Lou Ann is on teleport duty and in a mean mood. After a slightly-less-pathetic fight, Deadpool stabs her and then, seemingly happy enough, runs off straight into tough bitch and psycho Asian. But Deadpool - unlike most of the universe, it appears - can actually shoot straight and kills psycho Asian with a single bullet while tough bitch lets off round after round of machine gun fire and completely fails to get anywhere near the dark bastard of evil. But don't despair, as Lou Ann is still alive and was able to cure her savage gut wound with some whipped cream and a tampon. That's the sort of first aid that's needed in the Galactic Marines, so... yeah.
While Sharpe, Tyler and three mutoids search for the dream machine, the nurse finally gets the Cyberman working, but he wakes up evil, beats up the nurse, then Servie, gloats his reboot means he serves no master but his own incredibly cliched whims and, with a stringle of lame-but-memorable-one-liners, goes on a driller-killer rampage until Servie negotiates - betraying Sharpe and his pals in return for NOT being drilled through the eye. The Cyberman blows up the whole New White House while he steals a pursuit ship with the nurse's corpse for company. Well, that plot thread really justified itself, didn't it, boys and girls?
Surely Deadpool will get a better ending? Nope. Tough bitch challenges him to a bare-chest fight and then cunning doesn't take off her armor, so not only is his knife more or less useless, she then shoots him to death for "pissing her off" and blasts him off the clifftop.
Well. What's left. The now completely recovered Lou Ann pumps up Ride of the Valkyries and rides the ship towards the Pyramid of Alien Evil which is now surrounded by those sand people from Tattoonie, who are described as mummies from ancient Egypt. What they're doing here? No idea, but Sharpe's put up with this undead bullshit before and no more needs to be said. Lou Ann then shoots down the entire army, their cheap BBC "only up to five members of the army in any non CGI shot" tactics proving entirely ineffective.
This goes on for about nine minutes.
Some of it in 24-style four-screen views.
And, after finally evoking the trippy Olympic bits from Warlord, finally our heroes penetrate the pyramid whereupon two of the surviving Mutoids turn evil and the third bravely stays to beat the shit out of them while Sharpe and Tyler leg it to the dream machine. Meanwhile, tough bitch nearly gets eaten by a CGI water dragon but a single shot from Lou Ann saves her, while back at the front lines, the Hawaiian-loving Boss decides that (to prevent the "extinction" of mankind) they must attack early coz it appears they have a mole in their midst. "Aw, damn it!" the fleet colonel bitches with the emotion of finding he didn't get the jelly donut.
Sharpe and Tyler find the dream machine, which is basically a really cheap attempt to create the Core from Ultraworld. The girls arrive as Sharpe deems this "typical alien technology - doesn't make sense, looks fucking stupid and lights up like a Christmas". Then what looks like a Stargate opens, Cthulu lumbers out and uses telekenisis to juggle our... heroes... until someone shoots him dead and our... heroes... fall flat on their asses. The chamber then begins to fill with poison gas and only Tyler can save them all by sliding some card or other into a special slot. Unfortunately, Tyler wastes the last of the oxygen making confused double entendres before passing out. But tough bitch manages to bring him back to life by shouting an offer for sex and, um, the day is saved. Tyler swipes the card which somehow fixes the air and stops the dream machine.
Immediately, tanks start rolling in over the dunes of Gauda Prime (tanks?! How the hell did they get there?! Why not stick to aerial bombings? Why attack GP anyway?!?!), and all sorts of other planets get attacked, but none of them are interesting.
Back on Gauda Prime... and, stop me if you've heard this before... our heroes are bushwhacked by the evil mutoids who have come back to life and start firing machine guns at point blank range and, in slow motion, leaving Tyler alone and apparently doomed... until the Mutoids lower their guns. Was Tyler a traitor all along? Do I care? "Wazzup, ladies?" he grins, with a freeze frame and a fade to black.
THE SURVIVORS OF THE GAUDA PRIME CONSPIRACY WILL BE BACK SOON IN:
THE RISE OF MERC
The one good Mutoid ends up getting fixed by that fat IT guy I mentioned earlier, who reveals that the pyramid was blown to smithereens, but no bodies have been found, so absolutely no one knows if any of Sharpe's 7 are still alive. He also finds a mysterious data chip in her brain and then throws it away, bored.
Cut to the credits, which ironically are very badly superimposed, making all the CGI credits rather pointless, and then yet ANOTHER tag scene, as something drags off Deadpool's body into the desert, presumably to have sex with it.
I think I might give The Rise of Merc a miss.