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TEKWAR (1994)

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TEKWAR (1994)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013 02:06

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Written by 

The Buzz:

When you think “William Shatner,” many things probably come to mind: stilted line deliveries, a constantly-ripped Starfleet uniform, and shilling for Priceline.com. However, not as many people know that he was also a sci-fi author, who created a series of cyberpunk novels in the late '80s and early '90s, when Gibsonian neo-noir was the current vision of the near future and people could still say “cyberspace” without snickering. Tekwar is a Canadian TV-movie adaptation of the first book in the series, which was directed by Shatner and also features him in a supporting role. The story focuses on “Tek,” a highly-addictive form of virtual reality, various druglords vying to control its supply, and an ex-cop accused of a crime he didn't commit who seeks to bring them to justice.

 

Life of the Party (Positives):

Tekwar's cyberpunk detective story is essentially a more brightly-lit, campier version of Blade Runner, complete with Yakuza, killer androids, a gigantic sci-fi handgun, and trenchcoats as far as the eye can see. There's plenty of nostalgic '90s cheese to be enjoyed here, including exploding suicide robots, a man-woman-machine love triangle, and, of course, Shatner's introduction as a shadowy figure seated in a glorious, LED-encrusted techno-throne. Especially charming is an extended early sequence where two hackers “jack into cyberspace”and soar through a virtual realm of SegaCD-quality visual effects and nonsensical technobabble. Viewers who lived through the '80s and '90s will get a nostalgic chuckle from the hilariously-outdated portrayals of futuristic technology; concepts that are no less absurd today than Jetsons-style flying cars or Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

 

Potential Hangovers (Negatives):

As a noir-style mystery, the plot has many twists, turns, and revelations, but the execution of the story comes off as a bit disjointed and lacks a smooth arc, so it may be confusing to the casual observer why the heroes are suddenly in a forest chatting with eco-terrorists so soon after that old lady was exploded by Yakuza robots. There are also some moments of truly cringe-worthy acting, often combined with copious dramatic slo-mo. If you know what to expect from a '90s TV-movie, the quality and content shouldn't be too surprising, but this is still by no means a slick Hollywood release. Also, although Shatner is credited second, his part is mostly limited to occasionally playing “The Zordon” to the heroes, and he pretty much disappears entirely during the second half of the film.

The Vibe:

Anybody nostalgic for the days of cyberspace, virtual reality, and skies the color of a TV tuned to a dead channel will enjoy this cheesy romp through all the tropes and stereotypes of the genre. This is a good beer-and-nachos movie if you have at least a couple sci-fi/action buffs in your group, but provides enough “WTF” moments for anyone to get some laughs from it.

 

+ A quintessentially-hokey cyber-noir drama that distills ideas from many more famous genre stories

+ Great example of a sci-fi style that's only recently crossed over into nostalgia territory

+ There's a scene where the hero defeats a murderous robot hockey player by shooting it in the crotch

+ If you drink really hard during this movie, you can make jokes about getting totally “Shat-faced”

- As a made-for-TV movie from Canada, it lacks the brutality or sensuality of its inspiration, Blade Runner

- Plot is somewhat convoluted, episodic, and lacks a real arc. The inconclusive ending just kinda peters out

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About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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