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SURPRISINGLY SUBTLE CAMP VALUE OF MEGAFORCE

Barry Bostwick wheelies into the blue skies YEAR: 1982
"The good guys always win... Even in the 80's." A line spoken during an era known as the corniest in motion picture history, so there must have been some kind of politically motivated nod along with Barry Bostwick's cocky grin as Ace Hunter to his lifelong friend and recent strategic enemy, Henry Silva as a Fidel Castro type, only somewhat likable.

The most memorable thing about Ace is his light blue headband and spandex pants, resembling the attire of a new wave aerobics instructor, along with a feathered helmet of beachy blond hair capping a shaggy yet perfectly kept beard staked by a willowy frame — a cartoon lion's head on a Pez dispenser. And judging by action-packed video clips or screen captures, Hal Needham's cult turkey MEGAFORCE seems set in a post apocalyptic future. But the friendly skies are flown by commercial jets — one in particular bringing two token white rabbits into the desert: A British General who grounds the film like Topol's fourth banana presence lent to the more expensive, creative and polished yet equally maligned FLASH GORDON along with ingenue Persis Khambatta who, unlike her introduction in STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, does have hair and, while meaning a lot during the first and second act, she vanishes into nothing while the two big non-violent, zero body count battles are fought...

Hal repeats his David Lean inspired Smokey 2 finale MEGAScore: ***
Sadly enough, compared to the intriguing expository buildup, these epic desert spats are pretty dull. Hal Needham, the former master stuntman who directed Burt Reynolds in HOOPER along with the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and CANNONBALL RUN franchise, ventured without his mustached hero...

Replaced with Bostwick flanked by a witty, equally capable actor in wisecracking cowboy Michael Beck (Swan from THE WARRIORS) and the group's tech brain, George Furth (the jerk-villain in CANNONBALL RUN). But trying to be legitimate by convincing that initially unimpressed British General that the MEGAFORCE group is a bonafide fighting machine, it vastly overreaches: turning a potentially hilarious howler into a typical war movie template with supped up, machine gun blasting, steel armor wielding motorcycles instead of tanks — cooler to look at while cruising than fighting. During each battle, it's hard if impossible to discern who the riding heroes are: everyone and everything gets clumped together. And while the very ending makes up for lost camp as Hunter's motorcycle takes to the sky, it's a classic cult moment that should have turned up earlier (albeit in a different form or two). The awestruck expression of a defeated Henry Silva is more important than the general's approval beforehand. If only Needham had realized: While usually stated, It should have been better, in this case, It should have been far worse. In that, MEGAFORCE isn't a bad little movie to comfortably fill the time with.
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