Dollman, 1991 – ★★★½

A rather interesting beast, ‘Dollman’ couldnt have been more of a ‘right place, right time’ kind of feature. With ‘Full Moon Features’ still fairly in its infancy as a company, the decision to make this pint sized Science fiction action thriller about a 13 inch tall grimey cop who shoots first and asks questions later, who while chasing a perp winds up crash landing on earth and gets dragged into taking on a Spanish drug cartel in a rundown part of town to protect the non drug taking locals. Well…it’s certainly a change of pace from the kind of stuff they were turning out at this time thats for sure!

But what we have here, while not outstanding in my opinion, IS a lot of fun! The scripts got a nice sense of melodrama, but is equally quite coherent in the story it wants to tell, it has clean act structuring pretty solidly written characters who do undergo some growth across the runtime, the pacings nice and nippy and at just shy of 90 minutes it never really feels like it slows down all too often.

The dialogue feels quite fresh and charismatic, its got a thin veneer of self awareness about it, but not so much that it becomes grating (a problem a lot of more modern ‘Full Moon’ and ‘Troma’ films sadly deal with)

I cant say it’s faultless, the moments where this thing does slow down a bit are largely due to repetition, theres WAY too many scenes of our leading actor sat in a space ship in the front room of our leading ladies house just idling or reading a newspaper. Getting into VERY mild spoilers here also, but I didnt feel they really utilised the space villain in the best way either. They just kind of, heavily establish who he is, have him introduce a mcguffin and then get him out of the story as quickly as possible. He was an interesting character! and it would have been interesting to see him developed a bit beyond what we ultimatley got.

Direction wise, its good! I mean, I wouldnt say this was Albert Pyuns best work (I’d lean towards ‘Nemesis’ for that) but its good and solid, it feels thoroughly grimey in almost every sequence, which is a testamony to the crew. And the action scenes, while a little fragmented due to the limitations of available shooting options, due to the fact they had to make some key cast members look increadibly small compared to others, are still really quite impressive and put you right in the middle of the action.

This doesnt feel like a ‘Full Moon’ film at ALL, and thats probably the thing thats saved it from ending up as just another mediocre notch on there filmography list.

Even the cast direction is decently handled, with the cast being largely animate, a little hammy (but for me, thats a plus) and it’s clear they were given a solid rundown of what was needed of them, while also being allowed a *little* wriggle room to flesh their characters out in their own way.

The cines rock solid as well, again, we’re not really in blockbuster/mainstream cinema terratory, but sequences are largely well composed, maintain that grimy feel across the runtime and, while having the film look a little washed out would normally be a criticism for me, here I think it adds to the dinginess to create a film that feels very styalised in a way I havent seen since the low budget efforts of the mid 70s.

Again, thats not to say its not without fault. While the lighting setups are okay for the most part, a few scenes did feel VERY lazily thrown together in my opinion, there was real scope to make the spaceship shots have a nice moody chiascuro edge to them, and they dont really explore that, it’s basically just lit to look dim, and thats about it. Which is a shame. Equally; while some of the visual effects look alright, SOME have not aged well at all. in particular a severed head show in the opening act of the film for a GOOD long while is just, hilariously awful to see nowadays. It may have passed in the VHS era…but here, no dice.

Most of the cast are solid as well though the real star of the picture for my money has to be Tim Thomerson as ‘Brick Bardo’ the titual ‘Dollman’ he’s a no nonsense cop and Tim ABSOLUTELY nails that tone and attitude across the runtime. he’s brash, sarcastic, witty, bullish and stoney, and I think he handles the role expertly and makes it his own to the point that, I dont think I could see someone else play this role and do it justice.

All in all? colour me impressed. Its not the best action sci-fi movie out there, but if you just want 90 minutes of sincerly fun escapism and a bit of a goofy movie to boot. I think this will more than do the job!


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