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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Time Barbarians (1990)



Reviews and Comments

This isn't a bad movie. It's an incompetent movie. So wretched is this abomination that I seriously considered extending the lower end of my rating scale to include half-star and zero-star ratings just to give this particular piece of cinematic bilge its just due.

The first half of the movie features a bulky warrior -- whose armor consists mostly of strings that cut off the circulation to his arms -- engaging in slow, deliberate, mechanical swordfights with raggedy guys that crouch around the forest and make subliterate snarls and wear masks that, as far as I could tell, served no purpose other than obscuring the wearer's vision. Who are these raggedy savages? Badguys. We are never told anything further.

The acting is particularly laughable. It's all overblown, like they're doing Shakespeare on stage and have all the wild theatrics and flair for it but no actual acting talent. Actually their talent goes beyond none and into negative numbers.

Fog blows through the forest at all times. It's an interesting effect -- that is, if the effect of knowing there's a big fan just off-screen appeals to you.

A half hour in, we meet the archvillain in this repulsive tale. The problem (well, one of them) with the villain character is that he has no particular motive to do any of his evil deeds. He ties women up and kills stuff. Why? Because he's a badguy. He cackles triumphantly over his victims. Why? Not because he held any particular grudge against them, not because killing them enabled him to attain any particular goal. I don't know why. He's just evil, and evil people must kill things and laugh maniacally. One of my favorite bad scenes in the movie involves the badguy's henchman going berserk with panic when he discovers that the goodguy is hunting them down. But the archvillain comes up with a plan so foolproof it quickly comforts his worried henchmen, and the two revel in the anticipation of turned tables with more maniacal laughter. What was the archvillain's plan? Quote, "we kill him first."

Midway through the movie, the scene shifts from the repetitive rehearsed swordfights and ketchup wounds to Los Angeles in the present day. This seemed like welcome relief at the time, until I realized that instead of having repetitive swordfights, the characters would then do nothing in particular for the rest of the movie. It was mildly amusing watching the warrior hero dispatch a gang member with a punch that caused him to run backward several feet and jump in a dumpster from the impact. But that's about the extent of the amusement this tripe offers.