Runtime: 90 minutes
Director: Andrew Thomas Hunt
Writers: David Murdoch and Svet Rouskov
Stars: Julian Riching, Michelle Argyris, Emily Alatalo, Kiriana Stanton and Chelsea Muirhead
By Bianca Garner
I really, really wanted to like “Spare Parts” . The premises sounds intriguing and was what initially caught my attention. Ms. 45, an all-girl punk band, are drugged and kidnapped. Only to wake up to find that their limbs have been removed and replaced with crude weaponry, and they are forced to fight as Gladiators for a sadistic town run by a weird cult leader. It sounds like it’s going to be an over the top gore fest where we see some strong moments of female empowerment. Instead, it falls under the oleaginous leer of the male gaze, where the camera lingers on the actresses’ rear ends and reduces their characters to cliched stereotypes with very little depth. “Spare Parts” feels like it’s a film that should have been made twenty years ago, a relic of the post MeToo movement.
“Spare Parts” isn’t the film that you should watch if you seek a decent representation of female empowerment and feminism.”
The all-female rock band, Ms. 45 consist of Amy (Michelle Argyris), Emma (Emily Alatalo), Cassy (Kiriana Stanton) and Jill (Chelsea Muirhead)- although you’ll be forgiven if you don’t remember their names as the film doesn’t really establish them as properly distinguishable characters. When we first meet the band, they are performing at a biker bar, where a fight ensues and causes mayhem. Their performance impresses an enthusiastic ‘fan’ (Jason Rouse) who lures the girls into a trap. The four wake up with weapons for limbs to fight gladiator-style, in an arena-style auto-wrecking yard for the amusement of the Emperor and his sadistic townsfolk. The women must now truly band together and use all of their talents if they’re going to get out alive…
There are elements here to like. In terms of performances, the main actresses give fairly decent performances. Argyris and Alatalo are the biggest highlights of this film, both attempting their best to give their characters some much needed depth. Julian Richings was clearly having fun as the junkyard’s leader, completely hamming it up and chewing the scenery like there was no tomorrow. The cinematography by Pasha Patriki and the film’s score by Wade MacNeil and Andrew Gordon Macpherson are also worth mentioning, as they help elevate the material. However, the lazy and unimaginative dialogue will leave you winching as the actors attempt to deliver it with professionalism. The whole film feels rushed as director Andrew Thomas Hunt attempts to cram in enough action to keep us entertained. When the film slows down, the cracks quickly appear.
“The film is quite clearly hindered by it’s ambitions and its low budget.”
The reviews that I have come across have praised this film for its action and it’s gory visual effects. Personally, the five star reviews I have encountered have baffled me…Did they receive a different copy of the film then what I received? Firstly, it’s action is very hard to follow because of the film’s rapid editing. The fight in the bar at the start of the film is so poorly cut together that it almost places you into a seizure. It took several attempts to try and work out who had hit whom and what was going on exactly. The special effects are decent but if more attention had been given to creating a decent storyline and characters then maybe that would have vastly improved the overall film. Some of the gore is completely unnecessary and at times quite clearly fake. Nothing set up in this world feels real. There’s very little world building going on here, and non of the characters are given enough of a backstory for the audience to be fully invested in them.
It’s never a pleasure to write a negative review. It’s a difficult task to make a film, and quite clearly Hunt has poured his heart and soul into this movie but his decision to also edit the film was perhaps not a good one to make. The film is quite clearly hindered by it’s ambitions and its low budget. Perhaps the fault lies with the film’s writers (David Murdoch and Svet Rouskov) who have attempted to create a “Mad Max: Fury Road” type of scenario but the film’s lack of big budget production design, props and costumes ruins the immersion. The film needed to have the town and the cult properly established before we fell into the action. A scene before the bar performance, where the women saw more of the town would have helped and would have added a layer of realism to the film.
Overall, “Spare Parts” isn’t the film that you should watch if you seek a decent representation of female empowerment and feminism. Instead, it’s a clumsy and clunky film that is biting off more than it can chew. There’s certainly a lot of potential here, but it attempts to run before it can walk and as a result it’s hard to recall anything astonishing after the credits have rolled. Such a shame.
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