The Running Man – The Movie Review

You might find it funny coming from the guy who actually runs this blog here, but I think, assume and believe I’ve never reviewed a true 80s movie before. So when I stumbled across the good old Running Man starring now good old Arnold Schwarzenegger I thought “Hell yeah, let’s rock back to the 80s and review it for the sake of online content”.

But before I continue with the movie review there’s a little question I have to ask you: how the heck can you endure the horrible German-Austrian accent of Schwarzenegger? My ears were constantly bleeding; I even passed out for a second and smashed into my beloved keyboard (the keys “Oh.my,God!” are still impressed on my forehead). You know, up to now I’ve always watched the dubbed versions which wonderfully straightened up the horror by using perfect German. But this? You have my utmost sincere condolences.

Thanks to that revelation I now have a new conspiracy theory in my sleeves regarding the crazy success of Arnold S.: you all only watched his movies for a good laugh. You can be frank…admit it! NOW!! Okay, back to the movie…

After watching Running Man there was one thing I knew for sure: it’s a science fiction movie that’s so 80s it’s beyond “not funny anymore” and right back to “funny”. The technology depicted here made my day.

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See, now that’s the true Internet: white text on black canvas and simple drawings that take ages to load on a TV screen. Although it would’ve been immensely cool to use this stuff I am still kind of glad we are a little bit further than that…Wait. Now that I think about it our net can’t even come close to the artificial intelligence of the Running Man version. When I hammer at the keyboard the only thing I get is a black screen of silence (trust me, I tried it several times). So the Running Net® can truly anticipate what the user wants. I’d love to see that one in two years, so Steve and Bill, can you do something about it?

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For a movie that’s set in 2019, a time in which they can copy a moving head onto a moving body perfectly, the other special effects departments seem to have been wiped from Earth by an unnamed disaster. Just look at the image above and you know what I mean. Got all SFX guys some work on the latest Avatar 3 which was that awful everyone got sent to Running Man? Or was it a Star Wars sequel-sequel (not a prequel-sequel)? In any case, if we hurry up, we could still reach that kind of dystopian future and I’m always in for an experiment.

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If I had to pick one thing Running Man suffers horrendously from I’d pick “cheap lock” over everything else. It’s not only the costumes and lightning. It’s also basically everything else. Heck, even the main studio from the biggest show in the US looks as if it’s been made by the guys with no sense of epicness. Where are the laser beams? Where are 3D moving images? Where are the enormous flatscreens? Where are the high quality materials? And where the heck are some T-1000s dancing in the background? A total letdown. This is supposed to be a world in which TV governs everything – panem et circenses. Bread and Circus. The equipment doesn’t show this at all.

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Oh yeah: If I had to pick the Top 10 Most Embarrassing Villains Ever, Dynamo would be one of the best on the list. Seriously, I can’t take him seriously even if I try to. A guy trying to imitate some light bulbs? He is a running joke wearing even awful underwear (oh why did they have to show that?!). At least he’s consistent with his awful tastes. Or the production team couldn’t find anything better in his size. In any case even I wouldn’t wear something that embarrassing even if my life would depend upon it. He alone would be worth a remake.

By the way: the thing about Running Man suffering from cheap looks was a joke. In fact, the movie suffers from two things: cheap looks and absence of logic.

Who would place an important high-security uplink to a satellite in the middle of a battle zone, for example? Including a terminal to work on it? I certainly wouldn’t. This is just a stupid idea. Only moments later there was another big question mark in my mind: what about the three men that supposedly won? Why did nobody remove their corpses because of…you know… all the damn cameras?  As far as I understood, everyone in the audience could see the dead of Fireball, so there had to be a camera. I also didn’t get the thing regarding the fake death of Arnold’s character. Isn’t that stunt kind of risky? You know, after witnessing a guy killing three of my best men I wouldn’t dare to fake his death because the chance of him getting out, proving that everything was indeed faked would be massively high. On the other hand: they seem to be able to track him, so why didn’t they do this? And why did those resistance guys never try to work on that satellite uplink themselves, as they presumably live in the battle zone (which is crazy as well)? And how the heck did the resistance guys even get into the studio building? Aren’t there supposed to be many dangerous criminals and therefore a shitload of security guys? Or are they all rallied in the main studio?

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This also reminds me of the final fight in the studio. It was a total letdown and didn’t feel dramatic at all. Some guys do some static shooting? Here the production crew blew one big chance to impress. I think “anticlimactic” is the correct word for that kind of ending.

The most disappointing thing about all this is that even the action scenes which came before didn’t impress me. There was no speed, no tension, no thrill. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I guess it’s a combination of slow editing, bad lightning and bad action choreography. Moreover, without at least some shakey hand camera or some bullet time effects you can count me out. I know it’s a problem of our modern times but it only proves that Running Man hasn’t aged very well. It’s more like time did some good chewing on this movie and spit out its bones.

Wait a minute…this means I joked again because in the end Running Man suffers not from two but from three fatal flaws: cheap looks, absence of logic and unspectacular action. That’s really not good for a movie that’s supposed to be a cool as hell sci fi movie set in a dystopian future starring Schwarzenegger.

At least there are some crazy and funny dialogues present, so Running Man isn’t a total letdown (“I am your court appointed theatrical agent”…eh…what? I know it’s meant to be serious but I almost spit my coke onto my screen when hearing this. “See the camera up there? I can strangle you for the home audience” is even better). The presentation of a dystopian future is nothing new but served its purpose well enough to make other guys on the net praise it to the dark heavens – which I cannot really understand to be frank.

Conclusion

If you want to dive into the good old times of the 80s disguised as a science fiction movie, you can certainly give Running Man a rerun. Everybody else: I warned you so don’t blame me if you hate everything.

I certainly am in the middle ground. To me, when thinking about, the movie is more or less shitty b-movie material not worth my time. But the nostalgia is so present here thanks to a low budget that it saves this movie from being completely bad. Therefore my advice is this: watch it once and then forget it forever.

Rating
Nostalgia meets crap.

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