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  Solarbabies RollerbollocksBuy this film here.
Year: 1986
Director: Alan Johnson
Stars: Richard Jordan, Jami Gertz, Jason Patric, Lukas Haas, James LeGros, Claude Brooks, Peter DeLuise, Peter Kowanko, Adrian Pasdar, Sarah Douglas, Charles Durning, Frank Converse, Terrence Mann, Alexei Sayle, Bruce Payne, Willoughby Gray, Kelly Bishop
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the future and global warming has turned Planet Earth into a desert, with water in extremely short supply and those who control it also controlling the majority of the population who truly need it, but can rarely secure enough. This fascist world government also takes children away from their parents so they may be indoctrinated into loving the totalitarian rulers, but not every one of them appreciates what they are being told, and the hockey team known as The Solarbabies, who compete on rollerskates, are less keen on living under the iron fist of oppression than many of their contemporaries. But what can they do? They have been groomed for this existence, and see no other option - until a glowing ball appears.

If you can make sense of that, then congratulations, you are a seasoned member of the eighties movie appreciation society, should such a thing exist, but there were over ninety minutes of this guff to get through, which may be more than most could stand. This was one of the films produced by Mel Brooks that he did not put his name to, some of which would be big hits like The Elephant Man or The Fly, others that totally stiffed like this one: it's a gamble, is showbiz. Solarbabies was renamed Solar Warriors in some territories to make it sound like a butch sci-fi escapade, so imagine the disappointment among those who expected a Mad Max 2 clone and ended up with whatever this thought it was.

George Miller's brainchild was affecting science fiction all over the eighties, with every film industry with access to a desert crafting their own variations of the souped up vehicles powering across the wastelands and rogue bands of survivors ready to fight tooth and nail for the last resources, though none of them quite had his knack for generating something worthwhile out of the premise. This little item was no exception, it appeared to have been conceived of as Mad Max for kids, though more teenagers than the younger children, which led to curious bursts of violence amidst the more kiddy-friendly scenes with our band of brothers (and one sister - Jami Gertz) making friends with a glowing orb from outer space.

It didn't speak or anything, but they managed to communicate with it thanks to youngest Solarbaby Lukas Haas, fresh off Witness, cured of his deafness and now able to speak thanks to the orb's magic. There’s always a degree of wish fulfilment in fantastical plots aimed at this age group, so the notion of ver kids getting together to stick it to The Man was one that would never go out of fashion, The Man in this case led by Richard Jordan as the Nazi-esque leader of the bad guys who are recruiting them to... play a particular style of hockey. They even use the orb, named Bodhi, as a puck, which it does not seem to mind. This emphasis on rollerskates was a very eighties feature, lasting from Linda Blair in Roller Boogie to the dawn of the nineties with Prayer of the Rollerboys, though quite why they were regarded as quite so cool is something of a mystery.

Certainly the Solarbabies rarely took them off, so it was just as well that when the time arrives for them to undertake their quest to retrieve the orb (mulleted mystic Adrian Pasdar, who can communicate with birds for some reason, has nicked it) they're lucky the surrounding desert had so much in the way of flat surfaces on which to journey upon. Not that this prevented the young cast from looking ungainly, and even their stunt doubles were not too convincing as experts on the skates for while you may think you can look slick and cool trundling around on them, the reality is rather different: maybe skateboards would have been a better idea? Only you can't play hockey on them, one supposes. Anyhoo, off the adventurers go with bad guys in hot pursuit (in proper vehicles) where they meet Gertz's hippy dad, a proudly stinking Alexei Sayle and Sarah Douglas in one of her imperious roles as a torturer who owns a robot called Terminac that amusingly malfunctions, as expected. That was about all that was amusing about what may have been colourful and packed with incident, but overall was deadening in its pointlessness. Music by Maurice Jarre.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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