First off, I want to thank Barry P. of Cinematic Catharsis for asking me to join the Nature’s Fury Blogathon! The subject matter this go ’round is Nature vs. Mankind. In the words of Barry P., “…this is a blogathon about our eternal struggle with flora, fauna, and the elements.”
I decided to go with a film that has a bit of a fan following… 1989’s Slipstream.
Maybe not a “cult classic”, (you know what, screw it… it IS a cult classic!) but there are those of us who actually really dig it. It pits man against good old planet Earth and let me tell you… she is PISSED!!!
Oh, and hey… I’ve never participated in something like this before, so be gentle with me… it’s my first time. 😉
Alright then, let’s get to the movie!
From the depths of the Earth.
To the edge of existence.
The hunt is on…
“By the end of the century, man’s destruction of the Earth’s environment turned the forces of nature upon him. There are many stories about the converging earthquakes that split continents apart – mixing civilizations together… about the floods that buried the cities and the emergence of a river of wind called the Slipstream that washed the planet clean. Those stories all happened years ago, but this story is about a fugitive, traveling the Slipstream, who needed a friend.”
First off, Slipstream was blasted by critics and generally despised upon its release.
Why do I tell you that from the get-go? Because for me it was one of those movies that, after you watch it, you say to yourself – “Why did everyone hate this thing so much?”
To which I reply… “I dunno… it’s really kind of awesome.”
Slipstream is a post-apocalypse movie, or perhaps more specifically, a post-cataclysm movie. Sometime in the future (we’re not told when), the Earth decides to rebel against mankind’s abuse and issues forth great calamities… earthquakes, floods, etc.
These events became known as The Convergence. The Earth cracked and continents shifted. Mountains rose and fell, oceans drained and flooded areas that had never seen water. Cities were buried. Our way of life was forever altered.
Life goes on and people once again established communities. People found residence within cave-ridden canyon walls. They now shared their new home with others who were at one time thousands of miles away.
The only real mode of transportation anymore is flight. A massive river of air, aptly named the Slipstream, circles the globe and is used by folks to get from point A to point B. You can often see scratch-built airplanes and hot air balloons overhead.
Our story begins with a law enforcement officer (or what passes for one in this primitive landscape), Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and his partner Belitski (Kitty Aldridge), hunting down an escaped murder, Byron (Bob Peck). He is quickly captured and taken to a nearby settlement where we are introduced to Matt (Bill Paxton), a free-spirited bounty hunter. Matt sees an opportunity to make some quick cash and makes off with Byron to claim the bounty as his own. Tasker and Belitski soon give chase and the adventures ensue. The group ends up battling the elements at every turn, getting caught… escaping… running into a religious cult that worships the wind as though it is some kind of God… and finding a sanctuary of lost art and knowledge.
Yes, there is most definitely a story here. Each character is on a mission…
Matt… the young, headstrong, free-spirited bounty hunter who knows there is more to life than what he’s been dealt, but lacks the maturity to fully realize it. His is a tale of growth.
Byron… the man who wants nothing more than to dream and find others of his kind. Although considered a murderer, his is a confusing tale and may well be worth the admission price alone.
Tasker… Living life by the book and bringing justice to the wasteland of the old world. Almost Max Rockatansky’esque, he will use any means necessary to capture his prey. There are no grey areas with him, only black and white.
Belitski… She tags along with Tasker, but things aren’t so cut and dry with her. Secretly she hopes for something better. By the end of the film, you find out if she finds it.
The film was produced by Gary Kurtz and directed by Steven Lisberger (who also directed TRON). Kurtz was, at one time, the second half of the George Lucas team… producing both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Kurtz and Lucas split before Return of the Jedi and Kurtz went on to produce The Dark Crystal.
Hoping that Slipstream would be his “Star Wars”, for one reason or another the film ultimately failed and ended up bankrupting Kurtz.
Made in 1989, it wouldn’t be until 1992 that I would finally get to see this. I went into a Blockbusters (remember those?) and saw it sitting amongst the other “straight to video” SciFi movies.
To be honest, I thought it was just pretty good; until right about 15 minutes into it.
There was a song – more particularly, This Big Area by Then Jericho. To understand why it affected me so much, we’d have to got back a couple of years and spend some time in a hot and dry part of the world full of nothing but sand, blood, and fear.
At the time, I was stationed in Germany. A couple of days before we left for Iraq, I went to the PX and tried to think of any last-minute items I wanted to grab. On a whim, I found an album by a group I’d never heard of to provide companionship to my Planet P Project, DEVO, and Rocky Horror Show soundtrack.
I took a chance and loved it! That was one of four albums I took with me to the desert. When I heard their music in this film, I became flooded with nostalgia. To this day, when I hear that music, it takes me right back to 1991.
The acting is damned good – as well it should be, considering the names involved… Mark Hamill, Bill Paxton, Kitty Aldridge, Bob Peck, Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley, and F. Murray Abraham.
I mean, c’mon… look at Hamill for instance… what a badass! Bob Peck is simply incredible. Paxton is… well, Paxton, and Coltrane… I bet you’d hardly recognize him.
So , maybe you’ve asked yourself at some point “Why should I bother with this thing”… or “I’ve seen it, it sucked… why should I watch it again?”
To which I’d reply, there’s a story here… there’s more than one in fact. Forget the special effects… each and every character has a story and a damned good one at that.
From a young hothead looking for a quick buck to finance his dream… to a cop who is trying to make the world a better place by following the word rather than the spirit of the law… to an android who wants nothing more than to be with his own kind… to a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants until she see’s it right in front of her…
Yes, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye. If you’ve never seen it, try it out. If you’ve already watched it, give it another chance… it might not suck nearly as much as you thought…
But wait! There’s more! As a special added bonus… here is a video of the making of Slipstream. Enjoy!