Paradise Lost (1987) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
A brilliant adaptation of Milton's epic poem, starring Marina Sirtis.
As the baritone says in the trailer, "Counselor Troi IS Satan."
I'm kidding. Milton had nothing to do with this.
It is really a no-budget eco-parable. And when I say there was no budget, I'm not kidding. They show a crop-spraying plane flying far overhead, then they show two people from the waist up, dusting themselves off, apparently shaking off the crop spray. We know this because they tell us, with witty dialogue like, "What about that pesky crop spray, eh? Here, let's shake it off." The production values are exactly the same as those mid-1970s Saturday kid's dramas like Mighty Isis, Electra Woman, and Shazam.
William Forsythe plays a mega-developer who wants to place the world's greatest resort in the middle of the jungle. His plan is to spray a super-duper new defoliant which will instantly clear the jungle. Marina Sirtis plays a biologist/archeologist/chemist/physicist/physician, Mrs. Wizard, who is working in the jungle studying ... um ... important jungle stuff that involves microscopes and Bunsen burners and numbers scrolling on computer screens. She has an inquisitive little kid who hangs around and asks her questions ("Gee, Mrs. Wizard ..."), and that is the clumsy way in which the script handles off-camera exposition and pseudo-scientific explanations.
Marina teaches Forsythe that science must be evil, and that progress is bad, and that we would all be happy if we could just hold hands and sing that "teach the world" Coke song, except without the Coke, and live in harmony with nature as the Toltecs did ... well, at least until nature kicked their asses and made them disappear forever.
And while she's at it, Marina also teaches Forsythe to love.
And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say ...
... that Forsythe's small heart grew three sizes that day.
The love part gave the movie its only redeeming feature - Counselor Troi's bare chest. She had exposed the girls in several movies way back before she got the Star Trek job, but this is the only time she exposed her breasts on film after playing Counselor Troi, and the only time she did a nude scene as a mature woman. She went 14 years in between topless scenes, making Death Wish 3 when she was 25 and this movie when she was 39. In addition to her grainy, dark topless scene (which is further marred by the fact that she is in motion), she also has a lot of screen time standing still in a white t-shirt, and those scenes were shot outside in sunlight.
By the way, did you know that her last name is supposed to be pronounced "sir-tay"? I had no idea, but that's what her IMDb bio says. I'm pretty sure this is some kind of bullshit, because in the bonus features on the DVD for Blind Date, director Nico Mastorakis refers to her as "Greek Cypriot Marina 'sear-teece.'" Mastorakis and Sirtis are both Greek, both their names end in "-is", and Nico is obviously an intelligent man who speaks Greek, so you'd think he'd be able to pronounce it right. Something doesn't add up here.
Did I mention that the film also has some silly looking monsters that are about half human, and they are always shown in shadow, holding their hands aloft to look more impressive. Actually, that's not completely true. There are also some close-ups of their eyes, with maybe a single tear, like that Indian in the famous public service ad. Well, anyway, it turns out that they are not monsters at all and that their DNA is quite a bit closer to human than William Forsythe's. You see the moral, kids? If the evil Forsythe had gone ahead with his project, he would have destroyed an entire unknown species - people who are just like us, except hairy and scary, like your Uncle Mike after he has too many drinks at your family's Fourth of July beach party. Would you like Forsythe killing your Uncle Mike, kids? Hell, no! He gave you twenty bucks for your birthday, and he once showed you his Playboy collection.
Not to mention, as Counselor Troi reminds us, Forsythe might also have destroyed that elusive plant she has been looking for - the one which might cure cancer, AIDS, and Republicanism.
If you take away Marina's topless scene, the film is really just a preachy, G-rated episode of Mighty Isis without the superpowers. Think about it. Looks like it was shot on video tape; female archeologist; kid around to ask her questions; science and respect being taught though the plot; special effects which consist of shaking the camera a little (at best); important moral lesson learned at the end.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Now that I think about it, if Joanna Cameron had taken off her top once in a while, Mighty Isis would have been pretty cool.
This movie, however, is not.
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