Tuesday, 3 May 2011

B-movie silliness: DINOSHARK vs. NORWEGIAN NINJA

The party line is that I love B-Movies. The unofficial truth is that I love them... with reservation. It's getting harder to relate to them in the post-Buffy world of knowing meta-movie content.

Yes, it's great to be aware of your genre's heritage as a director. But B-movies were - as far as I can tell - three fifths enthusiasm, one fifth 'good lord, we've managed to secure ourselves a camera and a parking lot / quarry location' and one fifth script/cinematography/talent. That last fifth being the smallest, not all things being equal.

Now, B-movies can be a bit too knowing for their own good. Watching a modern, knowing B-movie can make you feel a little compromised, as all the elements are there except for the most important three fifths: genuinely artless enthusiasm.

I've recently watched two movies that you could probably affix a 'B' to: DINOSHARK and NORWEGIAN NINJA. Let battle commence...

DINOSHARK is one of those daft films that throws two unlikely creatures together and builds a monster movie out of it. That's it. That's the whole concept. Two words, several prosthetics, one joke.

It's worth noting that the guy who did DINOSHARK also did DINOCROC. He's found a vein of dino-related inspiration and he's going to mine it for all it's worth. Dino...Dog? Dino...Clerk? The possibilities are limitless.

Full of random attacks, the movie only builds pace and interest as it sets up the final scene (an impeding attack on beach volleyball contest, natch). I watched it with one eye on the clock but still derived secret pleasure from the prospect of a shark with a raptor's head leaping 100ft in the air to eat a parasailer.

Watch 'Norwegian Ninja' trailer

If you want an OUTSTANDING B-movie that's aware of itself and smart enough to work that to its advantage, I recommend NORWEGIAN NINJA. The link points to my review of it, and it's considerably better than its mozarella-laden name implies.

Is it referential? Oh, definitely. Just look at that painted - PAINTED - movie poster! NORWEGIAN NINJA has references aplenty, but is more than the sum of its pilfered parts.

Oddly, it covers the true story of the defection of a Norwegian diplomat during the Cold War era, as seen through the eyes of a guy who was a child at the time and grew up on a diet of ninja films and computer games. Filmed in seventiesvision with a plethora of dry, perfectly pitched jokes and that wonderfully slow and irreverent scandinavian approach to humour and timing, the film has somehow convinced me that the world of scandinavian politics is endearing. And has special ninja moves.

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