May 29, 2018
Megaforce (1982): a recap (part 4 of 6)
Last time on Megaforce: Hunter was a sexist, manipulative dick and Zara fell in love with him. Hmm, last week I said I didn’t think Hal Needham knew women. Reading that sentence out loud and remembering all the good-looking girls in high school and the punks they hung out with, I’m now thinking maybe Hal was writing from experience.
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After Lopez and Sixkiller’s skydive with a pallet of stuff, the scene switches to Guerrera’s base, where he’s playing chess with the man who was giving that speech at the beginning of the film.
I’m going to call him “Communist Fanatic”, or “CF” for short. Turns out CF’s not too bad a chess player, as he checks Guerrera. Guerrera asks the man if he likes it in this garden spot of the world, and Henry Silva says “garden spot” in tone and facial expression like he means “shithole”. I’m not kidding; the man delivers a carpet bombing of disdain in just two seconds. God bless you, Henry Silva; you’re in a schlockfest of a film, but it doesn’t stop you from giving 110%. By the way, some of his greatest roles were as the voice of Bane on Batman: The Animated Series and Kurt Zagon, the bad guy in Steven Seagal’s first movie, Above the Law. He was also the original Kane on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, but he was a little too much raw awesome for that show, so they replaced him with someone just a bit less amazing, Michael Ansara. And of course, who could forget this little gem?
CF says it’s necessary for the revolution, and Guerrera seems to ponder whether or not to 1) shoot CF in the face, or 2) get drunk enough to be able to put up with him. Guerrera apparently goes for option #2 and orders CF to go get him a bottle. While he’s gone, Guerrera moves three of his own pieces, and when CF returns, Guerrera claims checkmate [!]. CF stares at the board and realizes what his boss has done, but knows that saying what he did might get him shot, so he goes along with it. So it would appear CF is familiar with communism in both theory and practice.
Back on board the plane, Hunter and company are ready to disembark.
We have the guys in dune buggies throwing switches, and little radar dishes are a-swingin’, machine gun barrels are a-spinnin’, and laser beams are a-glowin. The word is “go!” and the motorcycles and dune buggies go flying out of the back of the plane. Wait, did they land the C-130s? I hadn’t thought about that earlier. Trying to land big birds like that in the middle of a desert in the dark seems really reckless. Oh, it turns out the motorcycles and dune buggies have parachutes, and they land in the desert.
That’s just stupid. Stupidly awesome! They haven’t even fired a single shot in anger, and already Megaforce is living up to their name. They drive off into the desert at speed towards Guerrera’s base, with the dune buggies using red lamps, and while they don’t say so, I’m assuming they’re infrared… or something. They don’t explain it, and really, if the movie paused every two minutes to explain every little detail it’d turn into a Christopher Nolan film (am I the only one shocked Dunkirk will only have an hour and 47 minute run time? Unless it’s going to be like Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies and they’re splitting up the war epic and we’ll be getting Dunkirk II next year). Nearby, the Winnebago seen in the hangar parks. Inside, a man sits amid what could easily be Tony Banks’s keyboard set up for a Genesis concert.
I’m thinking part 4 of this recap will be light on verses and heavy on imagery, because right now I’m following Megaforce’s motto: Deeds, not words!
A counter appears in the lower right corner and we’ve got a four-minute countdown. Does this mean the next four minutes of asskickery will be in real time? Four straight minutes of motorcycle stunts and ‘sposions? That almost makes up for the insipid love story I had to sit through earlier. We get lots of radio chatter as someone reports “initial contact”, which I think is a euphemism for “we blew somebody’s face off with a rocket”.
Hal is really in his element here. Back in part two, we got just a taste of what was to come with the three motorcycles’ trial run. Now we’ve got bikes and buggies tearing through Guerrera’s base blowing shit up. It looks amazing, and then…
Gah, it’s the return of… Introvision! No lie, as bad as it might look in this screencap, it’s much, much worse in motion. It’s distractingly terrible, and I guess I can understand why they used it: I mean, heck, they were using green screen up until at least ’81 with the James Bond flick For Your Eyes Only, so it’s not like a movie released in ’82 could be expected to have leapt that much farther forward in terms of filming techniques. But dammit, Hal, couldn’t you have just done a closeup of Boswick’s furry face instead?
Guerrera’s on the horn and screaming at somebody that they’re under attack, it’s a full scale invasion, and he wants his armor moving. And for good reason, because the tanks are all idle and easy targets.
But not all the tanks are idle. They start rolling down the street trying to get a bead on the fast-moving bikes and dune buggies, but they’re easy to sneak up on. A pair of bikes fire on a tank, and the missiles are so powerful they don’t even have to hit the thing to make it go boom:
Quick observation: you can tell Hunter by his headband and Dallas by the Confederate flag he’s flying on the back of his bike. Nice touch. The motorcycles don’t get all the glory, though. The dune buggies wreak havoc as well, especially with their laser beams.
At four minutes, Megaforce bugs out, but not before blowing the shit out of the rest of Guerrera’s base. As models go, it’s a pretty nice one, although like the one they blew up in the first five minutes, it’s probably just as well the scene’s being shot at night. Megaforce loses two motorcycles and a dune buggy, with zero fatalities. That seems a little… no, it’s way far-fetched, but this movie’s pretty much a live-action comic book, so I’m not going to complain too much. Megaforce leaves Guerrera’s compound in ruins as the clock runs down to zero.
Guerrera screams at somebody over the radio in his native language and then says in English, “I don’t care if you don’t speak Spanish!” That had to be ad-libbed, because I don’t think any of the writers are nearly that funny. And yes, I know one wrote for Hogan’s Heroes, and no, I didn’t think that show was all that good when I saw it in syndication when I was ten, and back then I laughed at everything. Guerrera gives CF the radio and orders him into the sidecar of a motorcycle and tells him to follow the guys who just spanked him.
A bunch of guys try to sneak up on the Winnebago and they’re detected, so Tony Banks deploys a weapon.
Oh man, I can’t wait to see what this does. Will it deliver a sonic boom? Is it a rocket launcher? Is it the Mother of All Laser Cannons?!
…Oh. It just makes the rocket launcher fizzle out and smoke. Very funny, Hal. Verrry funny. Dawn comes and Megaforce’s vehicles turn from black to their original colors in the light, and they head to their resupply depot where Lopez and Sixkiller are waiting.
Sixkiller complains that he and Lopez got stuck with the short end of the stick, in that he won’t be able to tell “his people” he was a hero when he spent two hours stacking rockets. I bet Sixkiller’s “people” are really the Cohens of Crown Heights and that complexion’s from a tanning booth. Lopez points out they were the heroes on the last three missions, so it was only a matter of time that they drew the short straw.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, the General and Zara are waiting, and their tanks are rumbling and ready for action. A radioman approaches the General with a piece of paper and the General looks pretty upset. Turns out it’s a message from “the embassy”, which on the face of it makes no sense. If they got a message, it should be from the capital. It’s either sloppy writing or something else going on, and I’m honestly not sure which at this point: the film goes from being really competent to schlock at the flip of a coin. The pair hop into the General’s tricked out helicopter…
…and I think while XYZ Xzibit’s people had been tricking out the interior, they could have gone the extra mile and done something about that paint job; it looks like somebody stole it from the Austrian Air Force. Wouldn’t you want it painted in desert camo or something if you’re going to be flying it around in, you know, the desert? Unless the General planned it that way; no way would Guerrera fire on Austria.
Megaforce pulls into the supply depot and begins to fill up.
And now I’m starting to wonder what, exactly, the Megaforce vehicles run on. They make these jet engine sounds that imply high performance, so maybe it’s some high grade fuel like a Formula 1 race car, but then I’m looking at that massive metallic hose and I’m starting to wonder if the bike and buggies are running on atomic fuel, much like the ’66 Batmobile:
Hope those fancy gold jump suits are lead-lined.
Sixkillerstein asks Dallas if they took many scalps, and the redneck replies that there were no scalps, but they raised lots of hell. Meanwhile, CF and his driver park on a nearby hill, and they both look exhausted from following Megaforce through the desert.
And I swear to God the driver looks like Will Ferrell. No joke, he just has that indefinable Ferrell-ness about him. Like Ben Roethlisberger does when he’s wearing a helmet.
You can’t unsee it. Sorry if that spoils you enjoying watching a Steelers game. CF and his driver are easily spotted by Dallas, and while CF is reporting in he gets quite a show.
I’m just imagining that while the primary camera crew was slaving away in Nevada shooting in the hot desert sun, the second unit was in Hawaii spending day after day trying to film the wave-frolicking damsel just right. You gotta suffer for your art, right? While CF is ogling at perfection, Guerrera is screaming at him over the radio, threatening to send him to Siberia, or worse: East Germany. Man, East Germany must have been hell on Earth. The only place I can think of that would have been worse would have been Detroit.
Lopez dashes over to Hunter to report that the armored column is 40 miles away, and that they’ve got an inbound chopper without any armament. That does kind of make me wonder what Hunter had planned to do if Guerrera had air sup—oh, wait, dune buggies and frickin’ lazers! Never mind, I just answered my own question. Hunter looks a little concerned, maybe because an unarmed chopper wasn’t in his script. A white helicopter with a red cross appears over the hill and Hunter asks aloud why the General would send a medivac when they didn’t call for one. Dallas teases that maybe it’s Hunter’s very own “Florence Nightingale”, but the boss isn’t amused, and Zach Taylor, the smartest man in the desert, looks equally concerned. As an aside, I like how the dune buggy drivers are wearing silver, which implies a fire retardant suit.
Hunter’s concerns are justified when the chopper lands and Guerrera steps out.
And we all know that when the bad guy’s smiling, it’s never a good sign.
Next time on Megaforce: It hits the fan.