Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Why didn't MegaForce
win all of the Oscars?

This advertisement for MegaForce appears on the back cover of the September 1982 issue of the comic book "Marvel Two-in-One."1

What the heckfire was MegaForce?

Seriously. I was smack-dab in the target market when this movie came out — 11½ years old in the summer of 1982, but I had never heard of it until stumbling upon it in 2020. When I saw this advertisement, I was sure that was Chuck Norris. Or perhaps a time-traveling Bryce Harper. Nope. It was Barry Bostwick (!!), the old guy from that 1990s sitcom Spin City.

Yep, Barry Bostwick starred in an epic action movie from the summer of 1982 and, folks, it was an epic failure.

In fact, its level of failure was so immense, you might have figured that I would have heard about it for that reason. Nope. It wasn't even good at being a failure. In his review for The Washington Post, Gary Arnold wrote: "It's difficult for Bostwick to impose a plausible semblance of battle-ready authority when he's expected to strike commanding poses in form-fitting gold or silver jumpsuits with his fluffy coiffure tied off by a baby-blue scarf." Ouch.2

In addition to being a MegaBlunder, MegaForce also had incredibly bad timing. It came out during the fabled Movie Summer of 1982, finding itself competing for attention with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist and Tron (all of which I did see in theaters that summer) and also Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Conan the Barbarian and Rocky III.

I should also point out that Barry Bostwick's character's name was "Ace Hunter," and there were other characters named Dallas, Zara, Professor Eggstrum and Sixkiller. (After MegaForce bombed, it's kind of amazing that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, which was not dissimilar, was released two summers later. It also bombed. But that fact that Buckaroo was clearly in on its own joke has given it a lasting spot as a cult movie. No such luck for MegaForce.)

This advertisement at least tried to stir up some interest in MegaForce with the target audience. It offered, for just $1, an official MegaForce membership kit, which included a patch, a membership card and a reflective bike decal. I guess kids were on their own if they wanted Ace's iconic headband. The ad copy states:
"JOIN TODAY. Saving the world for freedom is a full-time job. So if you think you're hot we'll give you a shot. Blast your way into history. Join the fighting men of MegaForce today."
The fighting men...

MegaForce seemed to have a bit of a misogyny problem, on top of everything else.

According to Wikipedia, Bostwick did everything he could to sell the movie. "You know what's good about this film?" he said. "It's plausible. We need an international force like this to keep the peace. I wouldn't mind betting that one day there's a real MegaForce operating somewhere in the world."

Or maybe even somewhere out of this world...

Speaking of movies...

Adding to the list of films I shared the past two months (1, 2), here's what I watched in January:
  • Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
  • The Last Man on Earth (Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow, 1964)3
  • La Pointe Courte (Agn├Ęs Varda, 1955)
  • Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)

1. Here's a whole series of posts about groovy stuff inside an old issue of "Marvel Two-in-One":
2. Arnold, who retired in late 2005 after 36 reviewing films for The Washington Post and The Washington Times, among other gigs, also included this line in his MegaForce review: "Barry Bostwick is obliged to cut the silliest martial capers since Captain America retired his tights and cape." I suspect a lot of critics who had to watch silly superhero flicks in late 20th century never saw the Marvel Cinematic Universe coming.
3. This is one of my and Ashar's favorite films, so we watched it again. We find something new each time. And we have a lot of questions.

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