Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn

Lava Lamp
Our rating: one lava lamp.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

"What are you looking at, two-eyes?"
We return to movies by Charles Band like moths to a flame. Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn is one of the movies made by Band before he formed Full Moon Pictures, but it still includes such Full Moon regulars as producer Albert Band, composer Richard Band, and actor Tim Thomerson.

Metalstorm was made during the brief but painful resurgence of 3-D films that occurred in 1982 and 1983. Despite its 3-D status, Metalstorm is still a very cheap movie. Most of the film's budget seems to have gone into to coming up with the title Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, even though the film has very little metal, no storms, and Jared-Syn is neither destroyed nor does he cause much destruction.

On a faraway planet that looks suspiciously like Bronson Canyon, California, a miner and his daughter are confronted by raiders. One of the raiders, a cyborg named Baal (R. David Smith), squirts the miner with green goo that somehow transports the miner into another dimension, or something like that. While there, the miner is killed by Baal's father, Jared-Syn (Michael Preston). The miner's daughter, Dhyana (Kelly Preston), lives through the encounter with Baal and is later found by our nominal hero, Dogen (Jeffrey Byron). Dogen is a "seeker", and dresses like Mad Max.

"Hey, why am I his sidekick?
How do you know he's not my sidekick?"
Dogen and Dhyana ride around in Dogen's dune buggy for a while, until they run into Baal again, and Dogen gets squirted with the green goo. Somehow, this results in Dhyana being kidnapped by Jared-Syn. Dogen, knowing that Jared-Syn is hiding out in the "Lost City", seeks out the one man who can help him. That man is Rhodes (Tim Thomerson), a former seeker who knows where the lost city might be found. Dogen finds Rhodes in a cut rate Mos Eisley Cantina. How cut rate? It's a tent. Thomerson makes for the greasiest Han Solo ripoff we've ever seen, but his trademark sarcasm is fully intact, as is the cowardice that Charles Band seems to enjoy writing just for him.

Dogen and Rhodes ride around in Dogen's dune buggy for a while, get into a chase with Baal's toadies, and eventually find their way to the lost city, which turns out to be more of a clearing than a city. There Dogen confronts Jared-Syn -- sort of.

The biggest problem with Metalstorm is that the hero never does anything heroic. Jeffrey Byron is blandly handsome, but not athletic or charismatic. We once said that James Fransicus was who you got if Charlton Heston was unavailable. Well, if Fransicus isn't around, you get James Byron. Well, Charles Band would get Byron, but we don't recommend it.

"That's the last time I buy a
bionic arm made in Taiwan."
Dogen's inactivity is most blatant during the numerous dune buggy chases that pad the film's running time. Every half hour or so Dogen is chased around by Baal's minions, the Cyclopeans, and they keep crashing their buggies. In a real action film, they would do so because the hero was quick and smart and resourceful and used those attributes to outwit his pursuers. But in Metalstorm, the Cyclopeans drive off of cliffs for no reason. This may have something to do with the fact that Cyclopeans (whose ranks include a very goofy-looking Richard Moll) only have one eye, and rather than having it in the middle, they have it on the left side (more economical, we're sure). You can understand that this might negatively impact their driving ability. This brings up an interesting point, namely that if you want to be an intergalactic hero, and you're not quick or smart or resourceful, you could do worse than go to a planet where everybody has one eye and insists on driving near cliffs.

Also adding to the tedium of Metalstorm is the 3-D aspect of the production. We've watched other 3-D movies in 2-D, so we're quite used to seeing shots of things being held towards the camera for a beat longer than they would be in regular film. Arms, tree branches, guns, are all thrust towards the camera. But Metalstorm also has numerous long, boring point of view shots from behind the wheel of Dogen's dune buggy. Perhaps these kind of shots would be more tolerable if the dune buggy were driving somewhere more interesting. Instead, we get lots and lots of footage of California scrub land rolling on by.

Dork Rogers in the 25th Century!
Special mention goes to Charles Band's regular composer Richard Band, for writing another score that rips off the music from another, better movie. In this case, the unwitting donor of musical ideas is James Horner and his score for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Three years later this particular Band family member would rip off the imperial march from The Empire Strikes Back for another movie, so it's not like we weren't expecting this.

The title of this film, complete with colon, implies that there were other Metalstorm films that Band intended to make. The film's conclusion is certainly open-ended, as Jared-Syn escapes into another dimension via rocket-cycle. We thought it missed a rather obvious opportunity, though -- Syn could have escaped into 1980's Earth, which means Band could have made a science fiction film with the cost-saving location of modern L.A. With that kind of low-budget opportunity, he could have made a whole series of these films!

Oh, wait, that's right -- he called them the Trancers movies.

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Review date: 11/23/99

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