- 8/10 (if you’re a fan of RLM)
- 5/10 (if you just like bad SF schlock)
- 3/10 (if you’re an average movie-goer)
Oh my Gawwwd!! Those hack frauds made a movie! In Space Cop, an overweight cop travels back from the future, the future of spaaaace, to save Milwaukee from gold-digging aliens.
Space Cop is an indie movie, produced by the small Milwaukee based company RedLetterMedia, which received internet fame with their Star Wars reviews. The company is actually a local refuge for hacks and frauds, and internet celebrity Rich Evans. Evans plays a clumsy cop with a tendency to fall down, evoking a certain mall cop. His performance is supported however by the horrible acting of Mike Stoklasa.
It makes little sense to explain who RedLetterMedia are, because this film is aimed at the in-crowd, the knowing. All others I would like to refer to their YouTube channel. The acting is a combination of deliberately bad and tongue-in-cheek reference to Clint Eastwood (Evans) and a noir detective (Stoklasa). The media crew is enamored by so called schlock, bad b-movies action. And although their film is a love letter to that, they don’t have the time and resources to make something of a high production level to compete with a big studio, so instead they embrace the schlock and revel in it.
The humor is best described as absurdist. To quote Bauman out of context: “There are so many levels of irony here that I don’t know what’s genuine anymore and what isn’t.” The good thing is that it is unpredictable, because the worst sin a bad movie can commit is being predictable and thus boring, but Space Cop often isn’t. Sure, the walls are cardboard and the props are bought from the store around the corner, but you never know how a scene will progress. It does get boring as the movie progresses, because the ironic atmosphere of the movie makes it feel flat. There lacks a feeling of genuine interest or passion in the material. I would have liked to see things going more over the top in true b-movie fashion. Also enter a nice cameo of Patton Oswalt.
The film does not shy away from using lots of CGI, to a humorous effect, such as holo-books that still flip pages and lots of crappy electronic panels. It references a small galaxy of past SF movies, such as The Fifth Element (1997) with its flying cars, Star Wars prequels of course and Space Truckers (1996). In fact, Space Cop feels in many ways contemporary of those 90s SF movies with 90s electronic music and 90s SF ideas and is riding a wave of retro-nostalgia films such as Turbo Kid and Kung Fury, being all the rage these years.
It seems unfair to attack the movie for bad special effects, but it is also missing the point as a reviewer because the effects are sometimes deliberately bad. And sometimes they aren’t. You might yell inside your head: “there’s no reason why you couldn’t make this shot more realistic, you HACKS”, but that’s the joke. How can I write a review when an appreciation of the movie requires that you do not take the movie seriously? RedLetterMedia has invented a new type of comedy and it is rewiring the atoms of my brain. Either that, or their self-sustained hackfraud joke is a clever way to insulate them from criticism.
I’ll say this though, the plot takes a lot of time to get going. The introduction of the story never seems finished; it moves through a number of short stories and the true “story” of the movie stays elusive for the whole first half hour. As a result, the movie is also much longer than what’s good for it. You really feel the length. And the acting, the horrible acting… both Evans and Stoklasa are horrible, and Stoklasa makes it even worse with a deliberate overblown accent. It sounds as if he is mentally completely disengaged from the role. It’s a bad decision made. It gets tiresome because it sounds insincere and therefore undermines the humor.
Conclusion: The good part is that there are a lot of genuinely funny moments. The bad part is that it is too ironic. If your whole movie is an exercise in irony, my excitement will be ironic too, because you’re asking me not to engage with the material.