Solarbabies Recap


Ahhh, here’s the 1986 I know and love. Unlike No Mercy (which was Not That Bad and fairly typical) this falls right in line with King Kong Lives, Howard the Duck and (from what I’ve heard) Under the Cherry Moon. Read: weird shit. But despite only existing through a series of lapses in judgement, it actually has some bright spots. It looks a lot better than I expected and the game they play is legit the best fake sport I’ve seen put to film (this would be a good deep dive to undertake: fake sports in film). Overall though, it kinda reminded me of Ice Pirates, except not in on the joke.

On the face of it Solarbabies is not particularly interesting for Settings 101. There is little to no evidence of where it takes place outside of “in the desert.” The only evidence that can be seen is a license place on a car that some bounty hunters use as a primitive horse-and-buggy. While it’s not exactly clear what state the license plate is from (through some internet sleuthing I’m pretty sure it’s California), you would only really be able to say that it’s likely that the film takes place in America. A single California license plate can show up anywhere. So while it’s tempting to give this a D-, you have to give it an F. There is no setting that you would ever be able to put on a Sigh. These types of films are pretty rare. All of the angst about the physical setting of Solarbabies did get me thinking of a second class for BMIT similar to Settings 101. Instead of asking where the film takes place (and seeing how definite and specific you can get), you ask when the film takes place. Most every film can be narrowed down to an past, present, and future. A number will get to a year. There are a set of fun ones that can be narrowed down to particular weekends due to movie matinees, calendars on the wall, holidays, and funny stuff like that. Then there will be the solid few that get to an exact date by virtue of a intertitle or a major plot point revolving around it (think Back to the Future). While Solarbabies doesn’t have an exact temporal setting per se, it is stated that the film takes place in the year “41.” Most people take this as meaning that it takes place 41 years after some apocalyptic event dried out the Earth. So that’s something, but not really an exact year. There are some interesting internet theories about what else the “41” could mean, including one spoken about on the podcast How Did This Get Made? that gives us an exact year. This is that the film takes place in an alternate timeline where the nazis won the war in 1941 and started a thousand year reign. Thus the film takes place 1000 years later in the year 2941 and the climactic destruction of the Eco-Police HQ/hydroelectric dam marks the end of the reign. There are actually several aspects of the film that support this theory including the nazi-like characteristics of the villains’ uniforms. It’s certainly interesting, but the temporal setting is not definite and at best would be a C- (it does have an exact year of sorts, but it’s not great).


‘Ello everyone! Solarbabies? More like Bizarre Eighties! Amirite. Like, … this movie makes the eighties look bizarre, you know? Anyways, Solarbabies, Theodore Rex, Barb Wire, Left Behind. Potato, potato, potato, potato, let’s get into it!

  • The Good – This movie is way way better than it should be all things considered. When they say it is a rip off of Mad Max that is actually a compliment: this isn’t like the Asylum ripoffs you see (like Transmorphers or Atlantic Rim), this is like a group of people got together and tried to make a Mad Max film. And it isn’t nearly as bad as you would have expected given that description. The rollerball-esque future sport they play actually looks like a real sport: I would watch the London Bridges versus Manchester SBRGC play that game (SBRGC = SolarBabies Roller Game Club obviously).
  • The Bad – Most things, but you see that list of four ridiculous movies I wrote in my intro? This is the best of those four. It might be the best not-a-movie we’ve seen actually. That isn’t the say it is good. This movie is obviously awful. The music is so dumb. The acting is pretty bad across the board. The script (from dialogue to the basic premise) is ludicrous. This movie is bad. But if you know that going in … it would probably satisfy a thirteen-year-old on a rainy Saturday. That is the highest praise this film is going to get, revel in it.
  • The BMT – Yes, but only based on reputation I think. The movie is crazy and I would definitely watch it in a BMT marathon, but the marathon would be something along the lines of Barely There Movies. Solid 25 BMeTric.

Actually let’s see if I can’t get a solid cycle for a 6 movie Barel Movie-Thon extravaganza (Transition and Chain Reaction are impossible to predict so…): Theodore Rex (Comedy), Gymkata (Action), Troll 2 (Horror), From Justin to Kelly (Romance), Solarbabies (SciFi), Barb Wire (Razzies). Mac and Me would also need to get in there somehow, so maybe force a transition. Solid cycle right there of barely-movies for sure. I think there is actually a name for this game, like The Ideal Ideal Cut Cycle or something, so I’ll leave it right there.


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Steel Recap


There is a lot to talk about with Steel, but I’ll leave that mostly for Patrick. I’ll just provide this image:


Soak it in. Look at Hill Harper’s costume on the left. What is he wearing? Is that an eyepatch, leather vest, purple leather overalls combo? It’s everything you need to know about the film.

In terms of my BMTsolution, I read the first three comics in the 1994-1998 solo run of Steel and I have to say: this may be the worst comic book adaptation in the history of comic book adaptations. If someone was a fan of Steel (were there true fans? I don’t know), they would have had to be horrified by what was done. Other than Steel himself, all the characters had different names (even when they directly corresponded to a character in the comic book run). Why? I don’t know. They had the rights to the comic book, so why change the names? Additionally, the three worst characters in the film: Judd Nelson’s Nathaniel Burke, Annabeth Gish’s Sparks, and Hill Harper’s Slats were all only very loosely based on characters from the comic book! I gave them the benefit of the doubt and presumed that they were straight from the comics… WRONG! Throw on top that the most cartoony thing in the film (the fact that Steel’s weapons are sold illegally through a super rad arcade company), is not even based off anything in the comic. That is straight out of the screenwriters’ brains. Wow.

The only good things to come of out the adaptation is that Shaq is actually a really good casting choice for the role given his character in the comic, they did a smart thing by making him more Trash Batman than Trash Superman as it made the film easier to make, and they chose not to include the most ridiculous part of the comics in the film (the presence of a street drug called Tar that turns users into raging hulk monsters impervious to weapons). If they had tried to make Steel like Superman or include Tar in the plot (and it was a major part of the comic run), they would have likely fallen into the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation special effects zone and just looked silly.

So you see how much was changed from the comics (some good, mostly bad)? I’m sure that drove the six fans of the comic crazy. Alright, before throwing it to Patrick I’m going to do a quick game. It’s rare for us to watch a film primed for a drinking game, but Steel certainly is. Here it is:

  • The name/word “Steel” is said (1 drink. This should be a gangbusters rule, but I honestly can’t remember if the word is actually said in the film)
  • You see an eyepatch (1 drink. Not even remotely the most hilarious part of Hill Harper’s wardrobe. Three words: purple leather overalls)
  • Steel breaks something (2 drinks. It’s like his superpower is the power to break random stuff to little effect)
  • Shaq attempts a free throw (2 drinks. You’d think this was a one-off joke, but it’s not… it’s not even a two-off joke)
  • Shaq saves someone’s life (3 drinks. He saves someone’s life so often it’s like he’s superma… wait)
  • Judd Nelson kills someone (3 drinks. He kills someone so often it’s like he’s the enemy of superma… wait)
  • Waterfall for the entire time that Shaq chases someone through a trainyard in slow motion.

God damn! I want to play that game right now! Not only because it’s great, but also because I kinda sorta maybe fell asleep for the ending of the film and should go back and watch it. Patrick?


‘Ello everyone. Steel? More like Shaqmobile (I’m going insane guys)! I think that does it for Shaq in BMT (Blue Chips, The Wash and Thunderstruck remain in his filmography for me, but nah), and what a way to go out. Let’s just get into it.

The Good: Weirdly, Shaq, who did an admirable job given the circumstances. Whomever got paid for this movie also made out like a bandit. Yeah, that’s it. Wow. Let’s move “hilarious basketball references” up here to help clear out the Bad category. I’m digging Shaq trying to make a free throw through a hole in a chainlink fence with a grenade.

The Bad: Oh, let’s see. The costume was made of rubber and could not have been cheaper. The Hammer looked like garbage. The other costumes were ridiculous. Judd Nelson and his pick ‘n mix of bad guys were universally terrible. The entire Annabeth Gish storyline single-handedly set back progress for the disabled by ten to fifteen years. The music was jamming, but not in a good way (you know?). The action sequences appeared to be filmed at half speed. The entire film focused on the development of laser weapons which appeared to be unable to kill anyone on purpose. Trash Batman indeed.

The BMT: It’s a quandary isn’t it? At what point do you cross from a real movie to a late career Segal or Van Damme picture? At what point do you go “No, Theodore Rex is not a real movie!”. This is definitively BMT, but is so ridiculous as to creep ever closer to Stone Cold or Firestorm. A “hey, you think people would pay us to see Shaq as a superhero … yeah, throw $5 million at it and see what happens” type situation happened for sure. It is BMT, but I still like things like Battlefield Earth and Here on Earth and After Earth (among many earth based movies) more than this.

I’m going for a new game today called Sterling Jewelers Presents The Ideal Ideal Cut Cycle. Try and get the best cycle possible for BMT. This week, superhero films. There are basically, now, seven must see superhero travesties:

  • Comedy – Batman and Robin
  • Action – Ghost Rider 2
  • Girls Night Out – Elektra
  • Horror/Thriller – Spawn
  • Razzies – Catwoman
  • Sci Fi – SteelScattegories – Jonah Hex

Sure, Elektra is a bit weak, if anyone can think of a good romantic super hero flm … ooooo, My Super Ex-Girlfriend might work. That kind of works. I’ll leave it as is though. BTW, I’ve seen all of the films in the idea ideal cut cycle. My life is excellent.


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