Saturday, February 11, 2017

Slave Girls On The Moon (2014)

Starring Madelyn Wiley, Devin Dunne, Tomi Heady, Joshua Kennedy, Jeremy Kreuzer
Directed by Joshua Kennedy
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A young woman is sent over 6,000 years into the future in order to rescue another time traveler who's gone missing, and both of them end up incarcerated in a nearly impenetrable prison on the moon.

Joshua Kennedy nods his cap towards classic films of the 1960s and 1970s in this madcap sci-fi comedy, but at the same time, it's one of his most original films, and a surefire crowd pleaser.  While the movie employs some familiar plot devices (such as women in prison bonding together against a cruel warden and a talent show put on to cover a jailbreak), it flows with a wild energy that embraces the outlandish and discards the ordinary.

Taking a page from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and its classical music score, Kennedy peppers the soundtrack with a wide variety of familiar selections ranging from Also Sprach Zarathustra to The William Tell Overture along with some more contemporary choices to drive the film forward.  With fast-paced scenes matching the tempo of the music, Kennedy sustains excitement and keeps the mood light, despite some grim moments throughout the picture.

The dark tone underlying the comedy is set primarily through Kennedy's own performance as the evil warden, a clear tribute to one of Josh's favorite performances, that of James Mason as Captain Nemo in Disney's classic 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.  One does not have to concentrate hard to hear Mason's distinguished and cool but bitter inflection in a striking imitation.  The young filmmaker's costume, complete with wispy beard, navy blazer, and white turtleneck adds to the nostalgic recapturing of the image of Nemo, while a futuristic eyepatch enhances the character's villainy.

Opposing Kennedy's villain is a bevy of lovely ladies playing the inmates of the prison, led by Madelyn Wiley's wide-eyed and spunky Chloe Trustcott, Devin Dunne's slightly off-balance Genevieve Fonda, and Tomi Heady's clever and determined Mai-Ling.  The young ladies do a fine job of settling into the familiar prisoner film archetypes, but making the roles their own, and co-stars like Brianna Gentilella, Carmen Vienhage, and Traci Thomas add some daffy humor to the mix.  Jeremy Kreuzer stands out among the male leads as the silver skinned android-like Lobo, whose hysterical laugh and darting tongue adds character to another sinister adversary for the ladies.

I presume this was Josh's first production filmed nearly entirely at Pace University, and although we can tell university halls and common rooms are standing in for his sets, Kennedy unleashes a cavalcade of special effects and optical shots to sustain the illusion of the future setting.  It's more than impressive for a young student filmmaker to have been able to insert so many visual effects in a film (there must be at least 50 optical shots if not more), and although no one will mistake his work for Industrial Light & Magic's, the end result is certainly successful.

This film recently won an award for best comedy at the Miami Science Fiction Festival and it deserves that accolade and more.  Josh's theater background in mounting productions of The Ten Commandments and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea in high school surely came in handy here, in uniting such a wide variety of actresses into an entertaining ensemble, most of whom he probably had not known before he arrived at Pace.  The film might have been improved in some ways here and there-  I'm not sure Wiley's voice-over narration works quite as well as it should, and the talent show may have benefitted from some stronger acts to balance out all the weak ones- but the movie remains a jewel in Kennedy's filmography, one which I hope many audiences in the mood for a good time will soon discover.
 

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