Sep 21, 2020
Megaforce (1982): a recap (part 2 of 6)
Last time on Megaforce: Henry Silva’s Guerrera blew shit up and made a run for the border, and the beleaguered victims flew to America to get help from a group that hired this man:
Am I the only who thinks they’re in trouble?
So before I get into this week’s segment, I found from watching a Looper video on YouTube that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever and Megaforce are among a handful of movies that have the infamous 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some might think that this extended recap of a 0% movie hot on the heels of another one means we’ll be covering them all. I just want to say right here and now that if anybody thinks I’m going to be recapping Mac and Me, they’re out of their damn mind.
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Dallas, Zach, Major Zara, and the General…
…no, not that general. This general:
This General I wouldn’t trust to even get me a great low rate online to save me time. And Rex Harrison still wore that hat better. The four head off into the desert to… wherever it is they need to go. The scene cuts to a control room of some sort, where a man at a console rattles off this delightful piece of dialogue: “Sparrow One’s inbound, traversing sector Zulu through Romeo post coordinates in vector six.” He then says they’re reading a “hostile track in Charlie one-one”, which forces the SUV to stop. Listening to all of this makes me think one of the screenwriters went on to write technobabble for Star Trek: The Next Generation a few years later. Turns out the “hostile track” is an armadillo. Uh, Hal, just because the desert looks… um… deserted, that doesn’t mean it’s not teeming with life. Didn’t you ever listen to America, guys? The desert is an ocean with its life underground. If your sensors are so sensitive that a ‘dillo is setting them off, then your guys are probably getting false flags every thirty seconds from snakes, lizards, and the odd mobster digging a hole.
Zach parks the SUV and the General asks why they’re stopping. “Is there something else I’m supposed to see?” he asks. And then… they arrive.
As much as this movie gets panned, and as much as people poke fun at the pure cheesiness of it, I’m looking at these glorious motorcycles with their rocket launchers and machine guns and all I can think is the only possibly more American thing than this would be a bald eagle flying out of the sun holding twin live-firing M-16s in its talons as it spits napalm, all the while the Team America theme is blasting away in the background. The bikes aren’t red, white, and blue, but everything about them, and the very concept of weaponizing recreational vehicles, screams America to me. I now have an almost overwhelming urge to mount a flamethrower on my Sonic.
The motorcycle riders fire machine guns and launch missiles at balloons and blow shit up real good, and while I thought the first fifteen minutes or so of this movie was kind of on the dull side as we took a scenic trip through picturesque Nevada, seeing what amounts to hardcore action porn was worth the wait. I don’t even smoke and I feel like I need a cigarette. The leader cyclist, the one with the sky blue bandanna, gives a big ol’ thumbs up to his pals as he finishes off the display by flying over the SUV…
…just because he can! Blue Bandanna Guy rides up to the SUV (or I should say his stunt double does, because there’s a cutaway scene, and we come back and see a guy getting off a parked motorcycle), and just as an aside, I’m loving the sound effect they’re using for the motorcycles; it’s like they’re trying to convince you they’ve crammed a jet engine into the bikes. The “rider” takes off his helmet, and…
My God, he’s beautiful! How can anybody be so masculine and so feminine at the same time? I’m full-on hetero and I want to have his babies. There’s an operation for that, right? A uterinectomy or something? A procedure they do in Brazil? Get Caitlyn Jenner on the phone; maybe she knows.
I need to take a break, reaffirm my manhood. I need to whistle at women on corners, or build a barn, or something. Who can guide me in this time of emotional and sexual turmoil? I know, the Fabulous Thunderbirds!
That video might have made things worse; I’m now utterly confused regarding traditional gender roles.
Just who is this bearded demigod, anyway? Barry Bostwick? Right, he starred in Spin City with Michael J. Fox. What else is he famous for?
This… makes so much more sense now. Oh good, now my Pinterest account is full of Rocky Horror pics. Greeeeat.
The General introduces himself and we finally [!] get his last name: Byrne-White. Yeah, I’m going to keep calling him “the General”. By the way, Mulhare is Irish in reality, but that accent of his always sounded British to me. I think his entire career, he’s just let people assume he’s British, probably snickering behind their collective backs at the joke. But Hunter isn’t much interested in Byrne-White, not when there’s the Major. The other two cyclists look on and we see proof that Megaforce is an international organization.
It gives me hope that Dallas is from another country, and just wishes he were American. You know, like Wong from the GI Joe cartoon, the Chinese member of the Oktober Guard that tried so hard to be a cowboy.
Hmm. Guys with code names like Hunter, Dallas, and Zachary Taylor, employing high-tech vehicles? I wonder which came first, Megaforce or ’80s GI Joe? The GI Joe comic came out the same year this movie did. And while Hasbro produced the GI Joe line of toys, Mattel designed the costumes in Megaforce. Is it just a coincidence that two franchises with similar premises were produced at the same time, albeit in different forms of media? Was it that gung-ho pro-America Reaganistic jingoism everybody was feeling at the time, the sense that America was strong after four years of Carter wimpiness that inspired so much badassery in movies, comics, and toys? Who knows?
But back to the movie. I’m looking at the guy sporting the Mexican flag (to my shame, I had to go onto Facebook for help to identify it. But one person was convinced it was the California state flag, so I don’t feel too bad), and thinking that’s Omar Sharif’s love child.
The bearded, bandanna-ed one sights Major Zara and zeros in on her like he’s heard of this thing called “woman”, but has never seen one in real life. He tries to act all smooth, but she’s not having any of it, and she tears him a new one for leaving them to bake in the desert (where you could have used an umbrella), be greeted by a cowboy (which to be fair are native to Nevada, right along with coyotes, gophers, and… huh. Did you know there’s such a thing as a mountain beaver? You learn something new every day), and be attacked by wild creatures (because yeah, your deserts back home are completely devoid of wildlife). I don’t get the Major’s total 180 in attitude; with Dallas and Zach, she actually seemed nice. Unless she’s fallen for the bewhiskered demigod almost as hard as I have and she’s trying to front. If that’s the case, then I totally get it, Zara.
Hunter lets Zara rant, and responds that if she’s looking for a comfortable tour, he’s got connections at Disneyland. As burns go, I’d say this is…
Zara looks suitably abashed. Or contrite. Or mad. Or…
I… know Persis is trying to convey an emotion here, but damned if I can figure out which one it is. Hunter has the troops mount up, and he leads the SUV down a narrow road to a tunnel, and I don’t know what happened to Japanese Guy and Son of Sharif; for all I know, they’re tooling around hunting mountain beaver. The group drive through the tunnel and Dallas explains that all of their high-tech toys were invented by a guy named “Egg”, who has “more degrees than a red hot thermometer”. The two vehicles exit into some chamber…
…and it looks really fake. One of my readers explained to me what “Introvision” was and where it was used, and it just looks as fake as a bad matte painting, only it’s a different kind of fake. I was tempted to use that Romulan guy from Deep Space Nine to illustrate my point, but let’s not kid ourselves; nobody really watched DS9. They just claimed they did to prove how with it they were with fellow nerds. The gang is approached by the scientist (you can tell he’s a scientist because he’s wearing a white lab coat and has big glasses. Me am too stoopid to know he am smart without coat and glasses to tell me so). Dallas says this is Egg and “that’s no yolk”, and I hope I never meet Michael Beck in person, because I just might not be able to stop myself from punching him in the face for that. Egg responds to Dallas, “If someone doesn’t have less on they’ve got…” and Dallas replies, “More on”, and just let me take a moment to legitimately compliment Needham on his directing skills here, because Egg doesn’t even slow down to see how well he schooled Dallas; he just goes up to the guests and starts talking to them while Dallas stands in the background, and you can see on his face he realizes how badly he walked into that joke. It’s a little thing, I admit, but I appreciate those when they’re done well.
Egg tells Hunter that “it’s” ready, and judging from the look on Barry’s face, “it’s” either 1) a bitchin’ ride, 2) a really big gun, or 3) a sexy woman. Egg says he’s testing it in the wind tunnel, so I’m guessing it’s not #2, but I’m still not ruling out #3 quite yet. Then Egg tells Hunter it’s only for emergencies, and he has to hit the two red buttons. Hmm, we still could be talking about a woman. Perhaps it’s a sexbot Hunter has to “deploy” when he strikes out with Major Zara.
Hunter’s face lights up with the sort of child-like glee I had when I bought my first Dungeons & Dragons book (first edition Players Handbook. I knew you were wondering). Zach and Egg bail on the group, and Hunter and Dallas take their guests on a tour of the facility. Dallas says last year it cost them $40,000 dollars in mops to keep the place clean. Its 1982, and with military spending the way it was, that means the money got them two mops, a bucket, and one of those grouting knives.
We get to see more of Introvision in action…
…and I’m not going to kick a movie when it’s down. This time. I can imagine just how much money it would have cost the producers to create the actual sets, and this was the best workaround. It looks like shit, but I’ll give ‘em an A for effort. According to Mister Sky-Blue Bandanna Man, the facility has seven levels consisting of living quarters, training facilities, and hangars, all mounted on “gyro-leveling stabilizers” that allow the place to withstand a “twenty-five megaton direct hit”. I’d call bullshit on all this, but a little homework reveals the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, former home of NORAD, could withstand a 30 megaton blast, and the whole place was set up on springs. So this place is just that, turned up to 11. So nothing funny there.
The gang reaches a hangar where they keep an array of aircraft. There’s a black jet and Zara says, “That’s Russian! It’s their very latest top secret!” If a major from a small Middle Eastern country knows about it, then it’s not a very good secret, now is it? They drive past what might be some sort of really cool bomb. I’m guessing it’s either a new laser guided munition, or a really tiny nuclear device. Its painted black, so maybe that means it’s a stealth bomb: when it explodes, nobody notices.
The General asks a really good question: he wonders where all of this comes from. According to Hunter Supreme Command, United Free Forces, or SCUFF (and yeah, Dallas calls it that) give them their toys and tell them where and when to strike. Hunter says every man here has been written off as a deserter, or better off dead. Well, that’ll make it easy when the day comes that SCUFF has to disavow Megaforce’s existence and detonate the twenty-six megaton nuclear warhead they hid in the facility.
Okay… so why are you showing these people around like this? I get that you want to help, it’s what they’re here for, but was it really necessary to bring them into your super-secret club house? The fewer people know about this place and the existence of Megaforce, the better. In fact, wouldn’t SCUFF had been better off just deploying Megaforce and telling Zara’s Dad, “Hey, next Monday you’ll want to stay out of the Western Desert; it’s about to get hotter than normal. Trust us on this”? With all this high-tech shit, I don’t think Zara’s conventional forces are going to be a lot of help. Anyway, Hunter suggests he show the pair their quarters. And what does Zara’s quarters look like?
It’s like what I imagine the bathroom at Studio 54 looked like, with mirrored surfaces everywhere, perfect for snorting lines of cocaine. There’s a chime and she makes a final tweak to her ensemble to make herself look a bit sexier before hitting the button that opens the high-tech door. Because when you’re a super-secret organization with an unlimited budget, you can easily say, “Fuck doorknobs!” Hunter is standing there, and…
Okay, what the hell is he wearing? First the spandex jumpsuit (which offers zero—I emphasize this—zero protection in a crash), and now… this. It’s like somebody hung up paratrooper fatigues next to Bill Shatner’s costume from Star Trek II, and this was their bastard offspring. Somebody in the costume department actually had to have said, “You know what this outfit is missing? A sky blue ascot.”
When Commander Hunter asks her how she finds her quarters, Major Zara explains she’s more used to roughing it in the field with her soldiers. She says, “In my country, women fight side by side with the men.” So is her country an allegory for Israel, and the bad guys stand-ins for Syria or something, or has Hal never, ever been to the Middle East or watched the news? After some painfully clumsy flirting, Hunter leads Zara out of her quarters to dinner. Meanwhile, back in the hangar, we discover the Commander’s ensemble isn’t exactly unique.
Oh hey, look at that: Dallas is sporting the Confederate flag on his shoulder. This must be an alternate universe where the South won the Civil War. Or he’s the third long-lost Duke cousin.
Dallas explains to the General that the front of the dune buggy’s got a “stealth nose”, and then he and Egg don’t bother trying to explain with a “stealth nose” is. I dunno, maybe say it absorbs radar waves or something? Is it some amazing muffler? Is it really that hard to for mister “Sparrow One’s inbound” to write dialogue? And then Dallas shows off how the paint job on the dune buggy goes black when no light hits it, and Egg says it’s an “inverse photosensitive skin”. I’m now convinced the four writers would each pen a page and then hand it off to the guy on the left.
The three meet up with Hunter and Zara in the big communications room, and it turns out they can monitor anybody’s communications, both friendly and hostile. I’d say this is ridiculous, but I’m living in an age where for the past fifteen or so years my government might have been spying on me through my webcam and sifting through my e-mails, while spot-checking all my internet activity. On a completely unrelated note, can I just say what a huge fan I am of our beloved Commander-in-Chief, and how I had absolutely, positively nothing to do with those movies that predicted Trump articles?
As lame as the other effects have been, this massive monitor board actually looks halfway decent. I’m not sure if this is Introvision or what, but it doesn’t look fake. Or at least, it looks a hell of a lot less fake than other scenes. Hal’s smart enough to not let the scene linger overly long on it, just in case we see the flaws.
Egg zeroes in on a communication from a Chinese facility, and Dallas kicks in the translator. The Chinese guy says to what seems to be his wife, “Don’t cook, I’ll stop by Chenwa street and pick up some American.” That was pretty damn funny… until Dallas ruins it by saying, “Same problem, different language”. The key to a good joke is not having to or trying to explain it, jackass. Hunter says that SCUFF stores everything they hear, and they have files on everybody they think is important.
So let’s recap. SCUFF is able to steal any high-tech equipment from their enemies, they have their own share of high-tech toys that most people still think is on the drawing board, they can produce a host of advanced war machines and can monitor everything their enemies hear. So why hasn’t SCUFF simply blasted and/or blackmailed their enemies into submission when they’ve got so many advantages? The only explanation I can come up with is the Military-Industrial Complex makes too much money perpetuating the Cold War, and when something goes off script, they send in Megaforce.
And… that seems depressingly realistic. Hunter proves his point regarding the files by calling up the General’s profile, which even describes his bitchin’ helicopter, complete with shag carpets and air conditioning. Sounds like his helicopter started looking old and somebody came along to…
The General suggests they look at someone more important: Guerrera, AKA Henry Silva, the Big Bad. Hunter recites numerous personal facts about the man, including how he was born in “Costa Brava” (it really is easier to imagine this is a parallel Earth, what with all these fictional countries), and his father was a plantation owner, and his mother was the daughter of a wealthy mining family. The General is impressed that Hunter already memorized Guerrera’s file. But Hunter hasn’t memorized the file. Hunter knows Guerrera. Personally…
Next time on Megaforce: We get to see Zoptic in action, and blatant sexism!