In a Mad Max style futurescape, Tank Girl goes about sabotaging her arch-nemesis' plan to control the world's water supply by blowing lots of things to pieces.
Featuring the adventures of a lager-obsessed skinhead and her dozy kangaroo boyfriend, Tank Girl has, for the best part of a decade, been second only to Judge Dredd as Britain's most popular comic strip. Unfortunately, the very things that made it such a cult success - violence, knob jokes, references to Keith Chegwin - are also the reasons why only an idiot would think it suitable material for the blockbuster treatment. If there's one thing that Hollywood's never been short of, however, it's people with more money than sense. And so we have Tank Girl: The Movie as a day-glo, slam-bang, loud soundtracked, $35m reality.
Set in a drought-stricken Mad Max futurescape - that can't seem to make up its mind whether it's Australia or, indeed, the US of A - the film stars Petty as the gun-crazed heroine and spends its first hour setting her up with motivation, in the form of slaughtered pals, imprisonment - all care of her nemesis, corporate psycho Kesslee (McDowell in suitably hammy, sneering form). She also takes possession of a large armoured vehicle, soups up its engines, gives it a psychedelic make-over, and picks up a sidekick in the shapely form of Jet Girl (Watts). Together the pair set about escaping from McDowell's grim gulag and undoing his plan to control the world's water supply.
Matters really get going when the pair meet up with The Rippers. Designed by special FX wizard Stan Winston and including Ice T among their number, this gang of human/kangaroo hybrids turn out to be the main reason to see the film as they bicker among themselves, tear apart the bad guys and play really awful sax solos.
The most infuriating thing about the movie, however, is how close director Rachel Talalay actually comes to the spirit of the comic. Some of the gags are suitably nasty, the film is interspersed with a series of cartoon panels by TG-creator Jamie Hewlett, and Petty herself gets as close to the sprit of the character as the film's ludicrous plot will allow. In particular, the movie's middle section features the kind of insane Busby Berkeley-style song and dance routine that only someone at least fairly near the Tank Girl ballpark could come up with.
Sadly, despite its various attributes and overall funky, MTV sensibilities, this never gets quite brutal or blockbusterish enough and the result is a movie both likely to offend the family and infuriate the aficionados in roughly equal amounts.
Sadly, despite its various attributes and overall funky MTV sensibilities, this never gets quite brutal or blockbusterish enough and the result is a movie both likely to offend the family and infuriate the aficionados in roughly equal amounts.