Star Wars

Vulcan 7

05/11/18

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

It’s been 40 years since Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer first appeared together at Soho’s Comedy Store. They were fresh out of University then, with a hunger for success and, as they both readily admit, considerably more hair. Ahead of them lay the triumphs of The Comic Strip and The Young Ones. In this latest incarnation, the duo appear, appropriately enough, as a couple of not-so-young actors, sharing a trailer on the Icelandic set of low budget sci-fi movie, Vulcan 7. It’s clear from the outset that the two of them have a few scores to settle before the shoot can begin.

Edmondson plays Gary Savage, a once successful star of stage and screen, who, after several disastrous marriages and a life devoted to total debauchery, is now reduced to accepting a walk-on role as a ‘Thermadorian,’ a lobster-like creature with just a single word of dialogue to deliver. Planer is Hugh Delavois, who, while he might not have achieved the dizzy heights of stardom, has nevertheless worked steadily over the years and managed to appear in all seven of the Vulcan movies. He has accordingly been given a ‘luxury’ trailer to stay in, while Savage is expected to share a humble ‘three-way’ with other minor stars, something which doesn’t sit well with him at all.

The hapless runner assigned to look after (i.e referee) the duo is Leela (Lois Chimimba), who clearly has her work cut out for her, and that’s before the local volcano decides to erupt, stranding Hugh’s trailer on the edge of a crevasse and plunging the cast and crew into a life or death situation. And then Gary discovers a crate of wine…

Written by Edmondson and Planer (and perhaps inspired by the former’s recent appearance in the latest Star Wars movie) Vulcan 7 is consistently entertaining and, while the laughs may not be of the runaway variety, there’s wry humour here and some knowing winks at the current state of the film industry. The two comedians are given plenty of opportunity to extend their acting chops beyond the usual limitations, and Chimimba proves to be an adept foil for them. Those who have long thought of Edmondson as a one-trick-pony will be pleasantly surprised by his efforts here. His failing actor persona manages to be both funny and vulnerable, even (especially) when slagging off Daniel Day Lewis.

There’s also a brilliant gimmick in Simon Higlett’s ingenious set which increasingly angles the trailer into an ever-steeper diagonal aspect, a conceit that quite literally ramps up the tension every twenty minutes or so and eventually leads to one of the trickiest curtain calls I’ve ever witnessed.

I had a lot of fun with this and chances are, you will too.

4 stars

Philip Caveney

 

 

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Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam (aka Turkish Star Wars)

 

14/09/18

It’s after midnight and I’m watching what must be, hands down, the worst film I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Weirdly, though, I’m really enjoying the experience and so is the rest of the audience, who have flocked along to this midnight screening of 1982 Turkish fantasy movie, The Man Who Saved the World, or, as it’s better known these days, Turkish Star Wars. The nickname derives from the fact that this shoestring production shamelessly steals footage from Star Wars and a bunch of other movies, gleefully splicing it into the action and making no apologies for having done so.

Set somewhere in an unspecified future, there’s a long voiceover that sets out to explain the current world situation: the earth has been plunged into an interplanetary nuclear war and only mankind’s combined brainpower prevents it from being totally destroyed – at least, I think that is the gist of it. It has to be said, this is not the world’s most coherent plot.

We are then introduced to our heroes: intrepid space cadets, Murat (Cuyneyt Arkin, who also wrote the screenplay), and his best mate, Ali (Artekin Akkaya), who, when we first meet them, are engaged in a dogfight with some very familiar-looking spaceships. They are promptly shot down and wake up on a mysterious planet, whereupon they are attacked by a pack of tubby ‘skeletons’ on horseback and quickly reveal that, as well as skilled pilots, they are also martial arts experts. An extended punch up ensues, our heroes dealing out a flurry of complicated kicks and punches, none of which look as though they have the power to knock the skin off a rice pudding – and I find myself laughing out loud.

There are, it turns out,  a lot of punch ups in this film, many of which seem to employ the use of a hidden trampoline (aways handy for such occasions). Murat and Ali are attacked by zombies, and mummies and what look like huge, multi-coloured cookie monsters, all unleashed by the evil magician who rules the planet and who wanders morosely around the place, with his head sandwiched between two pieces of corrugated cardboard, which are clearly held in position by bits of peeling sellotape. This is pretty symptomatic of the standard of props and costumes in the film, which look as though they’ve been knocked up by enthusiastic PTA members for a primary school play.

There’s a bit of a love story, as Murat starts making goo-goo eyes at what appears to be pretty much the planet’s only female character, though it’s nothing compared to the love-fest which seems to be going on between Murat and Ali, who can’t stop praising each other – and I’m still laughing uproariously as the lads start fighting with a really crap robot and a ‘monster’ with deadly tinsel streamers for hands. And then there’s the magic sword that Murat manages to get hold of – the one that appears to have been made out of a length of MDF sprayed with metallic paint…

Look, I’m actually torn here. As a movie, I really can’t award this any more than a token star, because it fails on just about every level of filmmaking. It’s horrendously acted, badly dubbed, clunkily shot, and the actors keep looking sheepishly at the camera. What’s more, the story makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. However, let me add that, if this comes to a cinema near you, you should grab a couple of drinks to fortify yourselves, gather up your friends and go along for what just might be the most fun you’ve had in a cinema in a very long time. Because there’s bad and there’s Turkish Star Wars-bad. And that level of bad just has to merit a few extra stars…

Oh, and savour the scene when Murat does his special whistle – you know, the one that women can’t help being attracted to. That might be my favourite bit.

4 stars

Philip Caveney