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Abraxas, Guardian Of The Universe
(1991)

Director: Damian Lee        
Cast:
Jesse Ventura, Sven Ole Thorson, Jim Belushi


Special guest review!

By Jason Alt

 

Before Arnold became the governator, one man established himself as a man who could make the transition from acting to politicking. What's that you say? Ronald Reagan? Oh, ok, fine. There were two men, and one of them was not Ronald Reagan, who established himself as a man who could make the transition from acting to politicking. This man was Jesse Ventura. A Minnesota native, Ventura was the logical choice to play the part of the lead character, Abraxas, in this movie. The casting of an actor capable of expressing emotions would have lead to confusion from the audience. Ventura's shortcomings are actually to his advantage in this role as well as every other movie role he has played (The guy in Running Man who scowled and tried to kill people, the guy in Predator who scowled and tried to kill people, the guy in Demolition Man who scowled and tried to kill people…).

All sarcasm aside, Ventura's short-comings as an actor really hurt the film. Abraxas is a character who is supposed to be an alien who decides to forsake his duties as guardian of the universe due to his life-changing experiences such as falling in love and driving a station wagon. The "love scenes" are robotic and forced-looking and must have been as painful to shoot as they were to watch. I think there is an excellent reason that the WWF didn't refer to Ventura as "Jesse the personality" or "Jesse the able-to-emote." It isn't entirely fair to say that Ventura can't express emotion at all. After all, he can express anger very well. His performance in The Running Man is evidence enough of his capability to let people know when he is angry. He can also express the emotion of "I am straining very hard to lift this heavy object/ smash this dude's face in" exceptionally well. Unfortunately for "Jesse the body," his acting talents are limited to these few situations, and go a long way to express what a poor casting choice Ventura was for the role of Abraxas.

Of course, the other male lead, Sven Ole-Thorson makes Ventura look like some sort of bizarre love-child born of the union of John Malkovitch and Dame Judy Dench (Hint: they are good actors) by comparison. Sven's contribution to his first Ventura collaboration, The Running Man, consisted of him putting on his "mean" face and delivering one line of dialogue in some extremely broken English. He managed to clean up his pronunciation a little bit for "Abraxas" but he still couldn't even act his way out jury duty. Luckily for Sven, he got to play the typical late '80s, early '90s movie villain role of shooting and revealing way too much about his plot for world domination which will ultimately lead to his being thwarted. Having to step outside the box a little would surely have caused Ole-Thorson's head to explode (another late '80s early '90s movie cliché, but one which I never get sick of seeing). Ole-Thorson's performance in this movie kind of gives me the urge to travel back in time and stop his parents from meeting on the off chance that it would be enough to prevent this movie from being made. I am so disgusted by this movie that I would risk the potentially cataclysmic effects that this action would have on the universe. Speaking of crazy chaos theory propelled doomsday scenarios, remember that Ashton Kutcher piece of crap Butterfly Effect? Well, it's better than this movie.

I expected the presence of Jim Belushi (who is clearly depicted on the back of the (3 dollar) DVD case, but not listed in the credits on said case) to save the movie. Unfortunately for myself and everyone else who paid 3 dollars for this movie at grocery stores all across North America, he appears in this movie for a sum total of 45 seconds. Apparently he did the appearance in this movie as a favor to Marjorie Bransfield, who happened to be his wife at the time, and who happened to play the female lead in the film, Sonia. Despite being the biggest actor in this film, not only was he not given the lead billing, he was not billed at all. The absence of his name on the case lead me to question whether or not my eyes were playing tricks on me when I thought I had seen Jim Belushi. He's in this movie. At least in body, but I doubt in spirit. The lack of his billing may say about as much as his unwillingness to be associated with this movie as it does about the negligible role which he played in this movie.

So we have established that the acting sucked. But what was this movie about? In a nutshell, Abraxas, guardian of the universe is a….guardian of the…..universe. Another guardian of the universe, named Secundus (played by Ole-Thorson) decides that he wants to see if the prophecy of a boy born on the planet earth who can grant eternal life/ultimate power (I don't remember which, but it doesn't really matter) is true and decides to kidnap the boy. Abraxas is instructed by his superiors via his talking wrist communicator (Dick Tracy would eat his heart out) that this would be cataclysmically bad for the galaxy and that he should stop Secundus. He does. Then the movie ends.

In a slightly larger nutshell, this movie involves a lot of collateral damage. Police cars, innocent bystanders, wildlife; nothing is safe from the chaos that ensues when Abraxas and Secundus fire their alien laser weapons at each other. Apparently it is standard for alien universal protectors that want to watch over humans without alerting them to their presence to use their technology in front of lots of them. But so many innocent humans die that it isn't very likely that any lived to tell tales of advances alien laser weapons. This might be their version of the Men In Black memory erasing technique, just one with more permanent results.

Abraxas is unfamiliar with human customs such as kissing and not driving cars directly into obstacles, so Sonia is there to help him along the way as the two of them try to save her son from Secundus. She serves as his guide and ultimately helps him realize that being human is better than being a benevolent guardian of the universe. After about 10 minutes of watching her try to "humanize" him, I began praying for Secundus to show up and kill everyone. No dice, unfortunately.

I am not sure what was more awkward, Abraxas' inability to behave like a human and fit in with those who he was trying to protect, or Ventura trying to get this across. I give him credit for applying the "110%" philosophy which made him such a great professional wrestler (read actor) to this film. However, the ability to make the audience think that the flying reverse choke-slam into a stack of Hello Kitty lunchboxes conveniently laying just outside the ring was real and the ability to act on screen aren't the same thing. There is such a thing as overacting (despite what Jim Carrey says) and Venture definitely pushes the envelope in this film. 110%, beside the obvious fact that it's not mathematically possible, is also a little bit too much when you're trying to convey emotions on film. Ventura is to taking it easy what Stephen Wright is to getting excited.

This movie is the bottom of the bad movie barrel. I love bad movies for the most part because they are at best unintentionally funny and at worst hilariously cheesy, but this movie had no redeeming value. The clichés were annoying instead of cute, the jokes we non-existent and the action was hollow and unsatisfying. Nothing about this movie was at all entertaining, witty, funny, tense, or good. I would have demanded a refund, but I was only out 3 bucks (and 90 minutes or so of my life which I wish I could have back). I actually kind of want to go around the country and buy as many copies of this movie as I can find and throw them in a huge pyre the size of which would rival even the burning man. All the pseudo-art and twice the flamedge.

All pyromaniacal tendencies aside, don't watch this movie. Many of you will due to your overwhelming curiosity which I have no doubt piqued due to my harsh panning of this film. It was deserved, trust me. If you want to see a good bad movie, rent Scanner Cop or something. If you want to see a bad bad movie, shut up. You're a liar. No one wants to subject themselves to a movie that isn't even goofy enough to make fun of. If you showed Abraxas to Mike Nelson, Crow and Servo, they would vomit. No quips or jokes, just 90 minutes of listening to robots puke. Is that what you want? Personally, after watching Abraxas, I would welcome 90 minutes of Robot puke. Anything to stop the voices in my head that tell me to quit my job, change my name to "Secundus" and track down copies of this film so I can force-feed them to Jesse Ventura.

One final note, this movie was a great bargain at 3 dollars. It was either this movie or 12 gumballs, so I am glad I went with the movie. It is entertaining; better at least than watching paint dry or vacuuming your living room. At the very least, buy the movie so you can say you watched it. If you liked this movie, and are planning on writing me a nasty e-mail, send it to altjason@msu.edu. I would love to hear from someone who liked this movie. This is my personal e-mail address, and easier to get in touch with me than going through the website. Also, if you liked this movie but don't want to send me an e-mail so I can find out where you live, you should check out Hercules In New York which would make a nice double feature with Abraxas.

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See also: Automatic, Death Machine, R.O.T.O.R.

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