Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lexx 4.0: Giga Shadow

So here we are at the final film in the Lexx series before it was picked up for a full series. Giga Shadow is just as strange as its predecessors (!) and yet introduces some new ideas that would eventually carry over into the show.

With Kai’s (Michael McManus) protoblood running out and Zev’s (Eva Habermann) libido going into overdrive, the crew of the Lexx make the decision to return to The Cluster in order to get the supplies they need to survive. What they find is the Giga Shadow, a gigantic insect with the essence of His Divine Shadow, ready to devour the universe.
Okay, so this supposedly epic finale just so happens to be the weirdest film of the bunch. It’s also slightly disappointing with how silly it ends up getting with the introduction of Squish, Kai’s pet cluster lizard that is obviously a hand puppet and the goofy way the Giga Shadow is taken out by it at the end. This one also ditches the crew of the Lexx a few times to focus on the turncoat cleric Yottskry, played by special guest Malcolm McDowell, and his quest to stop the Giga Shadow from being born and his accidental participation in its rebirth. Whenever the film moves over to Yottskry it screeches to halt and becomes so damned boring that I wanted to turn it off and make myself a sandwich. There are a lot of awkward tonal shifts as well with the plot going from a dark horror thriller to a full out slapstick comedy at the drop of a hat.

The acting this time around is a mixed bag. The major cast members all do their best to sell the craziness going on around them, but unfortunately a lot of the time they fail miserably. Habermann is especially awful here. She looks like she is through with this series and would rather be anywhere else, which turned out to be true since she left the show two episodes into the second season. Michael McManus’s Kai is made out to be the comic relief this time due to his relationship with Squish. It’s sad since he’s the most interesting character of the bunch and has been reduced to kissing a worm puppet as if he were its mother. Brian Downey is good as usual regardless of the strange places his character is taken over the course of this flick.
I did and still do find it immensely amusing to watch Malcolm McDowell in this film. He alternately looks dead serious and completely confused for the entire runtime. I’ve seen in interviews that he said he was baffled by the script and thought it was the strangest thing he’d ever read up to that point. It shows in his performance, which I think is very unintentionally funny in a good way. At least it looks like he’s trying to make sense of what’s going on and sell his character, but making that happen is just out of arm’s reach.

The biggest mistake made by the filmmakers is the inclusion of the characters of Smoor and Feppo, played by Andy Jones and Michael Habeck. They are so annoying and were obviously added into the mix to pad the runtime and give Stan something to do other than look constipated on the bridge of the Lexx. The whole molestation sub-plot is lame and unnecessary; serving as yet another overtly sexual idea the writers thought would be interesting but ends up being nothing more than an unnecessary distraction.
Director Robert Sigl attempts to keep the flick moving at a brisk pace, but more often than not it collapses under its own weight. Writers Jeffrey Hirschfield, Paul Donovan and Lex Gigeroff pile too many sub-plots into their script to the point that things become muddled and mildly confusing. They rush to the epic conclusion with little regard for the audience’s ability to keep up. While I like the visual panache on display at times and the quirky sense of humor, this one just goes for broke and tries to be too many things at once.

While I don’t find this final film in the series to be nearly as enjoyable as the first two (I Worship His Shadow, Super Nova), it’s definitely head and shoulders above the nearly unwatchable third film (Eating Pattern). It’s the middle ground one that serves to basically set up the ideas behind the full season of episodes that followed and attempt to wrap up the His Divine Shadow plot from the first film.

Giga Shadow is watchable, but it’s a mixed bag that doesn’t always work. But hey, it’s still Lexx.

2.5 out of 5

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