• Tank Girl (Collector’s Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: November 12th, 2013.
    Director: Rachel Talalay
    Cast: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell
    Year: 1995
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    The Movie:

    Base on the cult favorite comic book of the same name by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewitt and directed by Rachel Talalay (she of numerous TV productions and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare!), 1995’s Tank Girl is a weird mix of mid-nineties girl power infused social commentary and post-apocalyptic nonsense. It was very much a product of its time and a lot of your enjoyment of this particular film may come from fond memories of seeing it in a theater under the influence as a twenty year old comic nerd with another comic nerd who would actually go on to make quite a mark in the industry. But that's another story for another time. This is about Tank Girl, the movie. It’s quirky, it’s frequently very dumb, but it’s got lots of interesting style and a pretty rad cast. But first, what’s it all about?

    The movie is set in the future of 2033, the kind of future you see a lot in movies, the kind of future where the Earth has more or less been scorched and now resembles as massive desert. Humanity is almost, but not completely, gone. Enter Tank Girl (Lori Petty). She’s none too pleased by the fact that a massive corporation called Water And power (please don’t confuse this with the magazine of the same name) has taken control of what little resources are left. She and her small crew do what they can to grow crops but this doesn’t sit well with Water And Power. They send in some troops and she wipes a few of them out. This obviously winds up getting her into some trouble for that reason she is locked up.

    While in prison, she meets Jet Girl (Naomi Watts), a meek and fairly mild little thing whose political views jive with her own. The bust out of the slammer and get their hands on a tank and a jet respectively and team up with a rag tag group of mutant kangaroos called the Rippers led by T-Saint (Ice-T). Given that Water And Power would like to get rid of the Rippers all together, this alliance makes sense. Together, they’re going to wage guerilla war against Water And Power and its evil man in charge, Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell).

    Tank Girl, as flawed and ridiculously hyperactive as it is, is nothing if not ambitious. The movie hits the ground running and does not stop, throwing in action galore, an equal mix of effective and horrible comedy, animation, music, explosions, kangaroo love and some occasionally impressive effects. The design work does a good job of bringing to live, visually at least, the look of the original comic series and Petty, quick with a one liner like her four color counterpart, looks the part. The problem with the movie is that it’s too much. It doesn’t slow down long enough for us to care about the characters or their problems enough for all of this to set in. Rather than scratch below the surface of what could make these characters interesting, the movie bombards us with one set piece and/or gag after the next. On a superficial level, this is fine, but if you’re looking for more than style over substance and you’re not in the right mood for this, it can be a bit grating.

    But what if you are in the right mood? What if you saw it in the theater first run and view it through a fuzzy, hazy rearview mirror of sorts? Then it can be fun. Not necessarily ‘good’ but fun. Petty is almost a real life Loony Tunes character here and McDowell proves he is once and for all one of the best at playing slimy bad guys. He leers, he makes odd suggestions and he tries to stab everyone in the back, just as a good slimy bad guy should do. The kangaroo mutants are still creepy looking, they never quite convince the way, say, Planet Of The Apes, did, but it’s interesting to see how the movie handles them in the fight scenes. The movie also earns bonus points for gratuitous cameos from Iggy Pop and the mighty James Hong. A young Naomi Watts is fairly adorable here and some of the dialogue is actually pretty clever.

    Tank Girl isn’t the movie that it could have been nor is it even the movie it should have been but if you’re in the mood for a loud, obnoxious, hyperactive movie with a weird cast and some wild design work and don’t mind the fact that it may occasionally give you seizures, under the right circumstances it certainly can fit the bill.


    Tank Girl debuts on Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 and looking ridiculously colorful, as it should. Detail is pretty solid and while there are some fairly obvious compression artifacts noticeable here and there, the image is nice and clean but hasn’t had its grain scrubbed away. Skin tones look like skin tones, not too pink and not waxy, and texture is decent throughout. There’s not much in the way of print damage to note and there are no problems with heavy edge enhancement to complain about.

    English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is pretty solid, doing great things with both the soundtrack/score and sound effects in the rear channels. Dialogue stays crisp and clear and the nearly constant use of music gets a nice boost from the lossless mix - just listen to when Bjork’s Human Behavior kicks in or when Ice-T’s Big Gun plays, the bass is pretty strong here and much improved over the DVD. With the soundtrack being a big part of the movie’s appeal it’s nice to hear it turn out as well as it does. No problems to note with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary with director Rachel Talalay and lead actress Lori Petty that is both lively and informative. The track starts off with Talalay talking about battling the producers over the choice of the song that plays over the opening credits and how this would be one of many battles that she’d have with the producers throughout the production. She explains a lot of these as the movie goes on, while Petty chimes in here and there with some thoughts and memories from the set. There are a few spots where the two clam up and watch the movie, resulting in some dead air, but there are a lot of good stories here, particularly when Petty talks about her initial audition for the movie after reading the script and deciding that she ‘WAS’ Tank Girl and then didn’t initially get the part. They talk about some of the issues with bringing the Rippers to life, the animation sequences used in the feature where they couldn’t afford to do ‘big action’ with the tank and the jet, working with Malcolm McDowell and Ice-T and more. Despite a few slow spots, this is a pretty fun track.

    There are also some interviews on the DVD, the first of which is Baseball, Tanks And Bad Tattoos which is a twenty-three minute talk with Lori Petty. She talks about how she got into acting and why she chose to do so, working on Bates Motel and Freddy’s Nightmares and what it was like playing baseball in Wrigley’s Field. Of course, she also talks about Tank Girl, being cast in the lead, her thoughts on the movie and more. Up next is Too Hip For Spielberg, which sits down with director Rachel Talalay who starts off by showing the slate for the film. From here she shows off a framed photo of the shoot and tells a story about how it relates to her tattoo, her thoughts on the magazine that originally published the Tank Girl comics, pitching the film and the difficulties she encountered there. She talks about she was striving for with this picture, the use of music in the film and what it was like working with some of her collaborators on this film. This second interview runs about twenty-four minutes. The third and final interview is with production designer Catherine Hardwicke and it’s entitled Creative Chaos: Designing The World Of Tank Girl and it runs eighteen minutes. She notes the importance of the look of the comics, what inspired her while working on this movie, how she tried to capture so much of the detail that was in the artwork in the comics and some of the challenges that she ran into on set. She talks about the concepts behind some of the sets that she designed for the feature, how mines were used, working with Lori Petty on the film and dealing with some of the deadlines on the production.

    Shout! Factory has also included a Vintage Featurette that includes interviews with Petty, Ice-T and Talalay and a whole bunch of behind the scenes footage. It’s tape sourced with time code on it but it’s cool to see even if it is basically an EPK. Rounding out the extras are the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection and as this is a combo pack the case also holds a DVD version of the movie with the same extras on it. Given that past DVDs have been, aside from the trailer, barebones this is a pretty solid collection of supplements.

    The Final Word:

    Shout! Factory has done a pretty solid job here. The transfer isn’t perfect but it is a definite upgrade from the DVD release and the sound mix here is rock solid. Throw in a great collection of supplements and this release turns out to be one that Tank Girl’s cult following really ought to appreciate. The movie itself remains as ridiculous and hyperactive as it’s ever been but again, if you’re in the right frame of mind for all of this silliness, it’s still a good bit of fun.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      These screencaps reminded me of how much I hated this film haha.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      If you're a fan of the comic be sure to NEVER watch this. If you're a fan of this film be sure to NEVER read the comic. You'll be much happier, either path.
    1. cinemacide's Avatar
      cinemacide -
      Love the film