HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
OnTV Today's Date:

Lady Death -
The Motion Picture

(unrated, but not recommended for under 17)

"The original bad girl of comics gets animated!"

So trumpets the tagline for Lady Death: The Motion Picture, and though Vampirella might be a little miffed, let's not quibble at the claim. Instead, focus on the breakthrough this represents: an independent comic book character with marginal sales and a couple of publisher meltdowns still makes it to full-fledged movie status. Okay, so it's direct-to-video, but while some of us are still waiting to see Gen 13 legally, it's still worth noting.

But is it worth watching?

Not actually having been a fan of Chaos Comics, it's hard to tell how faithful an adaptation ADV Films has done. Lady Death: The Motion Picture definitely differs from the Crossgen comic book, but then, that one was meant to be more family-friendly and a lot less "bad girl" while still keeping the name. Here, on a fire-blasted plain of Hell (you expected sugar-frosted?), an army of rebels, with clothes and flesh in tatters, gathers for one final assault on Lucifer's castle. Led by Lady Death, they pause as she re-affirms her oath of vengeance on the Lord of Hell, then flashes back to how it all began.

No, she wasn't bitten by a radioactive Grim Reaper. Instead, in 13th Century Sweden, we see a warlord named Matthias conscripting men for his army. He speaks vaguely of souls and the honor of heaven, but the red eyes, impossibly huge pectoral muscles and occasional damnation from the local priest should tip you off that he may not be what he seems.

A maiden named Hope consorts with her sexually non-threatening lover Niccolo, who forsakes medical school to stay with her. That is, until her father Matthias throws the fey lad over his horse to be a surgeon in his army, and perhaps a night of buggery. One can never quite tell.

Quickly, Matthias' true identity is uncovered, and both he and Hope journey to Hell to battle over the souls of Niccolo and Hope's mother. Along the way the waifish blonde girl will be hardened into the pure ivory Lady Death, heir to tremendous and (wisely) only vaguely defined power. She picks up allies, including the exiled armorer of Hell, Cremator. (Pronunciation varies.)

Though the story doesn't quite circle back around and synch up, it follows a pretty standard pattern of the hero (or heroine) exile, then training and forging herself into the perfect weapon to defeat her hated foe. Though well-done, this middle section looks lifted right out of Antonio Banderas' The Mask of Zorro, except for the "in Hell" with "flying swords" part. It also jumps from Lady Death and Cremator training alone to suddenly commanding an army without any real explanation. Sure, this is Hell, and there must be a lot of discontent. On the other hand, this is Hell - what do the denizens expect?

Fuzzy theologic abounds throughout the story, but in my limited understanding of the comics, that seems like a direct lift. For the purposes of this tale, being in Hell isn't quite the same as being dead; even though Matthias steals souls on the Earthly plane, they seem to incarnate in mortal bodies in the afterlife. And you can be killed, though what fate awaits you after you've died and died again remains unexplained.

Yet in the almost relentless gore and constant intriguing imagery, you can put aside logic with minimal effort. The art direction is really quite good, though definitely leaning toward a generic anime style in its depiction of humans. Hell, however, stretches the imagination. Almost every scene offers some new grotesquerie.

On a DVD extra, you can see the evolution of character design from original comic book art to film incarnation. It's quite interesting, but again leaves me wishing they had gone with designs closer to the comic book art than anime - it might have set it more apart from the crowd. Maybe all that really matters, and it's accomplished here, is that Lady Death be imposing, with enormous breasts that defy both gravity and Hell. Translated directly from the comics, too, is her ridiculously skimpy outfit. She actually wears more to bed than to battle.

But then, that prospect may have been why you wanted this movie in the first place.

If so, then welcome to it. Its release portends good things for the genre, if it is not itself perfect. Direct-to-video animation can give fans their dream projects at a much lower risk for studios. In recent months, we've seen animated sequel/prequels to live-action films such as Van Helsing - The London Assignment and Dark Fury - The Chronicles of Riddick that had to have towered over their live-action counterparts in quality. Even this month's release to home video of the third season of Alias included an animated "lost" episode. Marvel will soon jump aboard with an animated Avengers, though it's actually The Ultimates. It's only going to grow from there.

So thanks, original bad girl.

Lady Death - The Motion Picture

Derek McCaw


Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites