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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Missed It: Strange Frame

Hello hello!


Okay, so I need to talk about how gloriously bad this movie is. And gloriously weird. And...actually, that it's kind of good in spite of its many, many faults.

Sweet dear gods, it has exposition puking in the voice-over, but it's made up of extended Claudia Black purring. I don't care what she's saying, it's Claudia Black. I should probably talk about the plot of this thing, though. It's unnecessarily arcane and kind of hard to follow, but basically, it's a resistance type story, normal for dystopias, and it's a super arty-film. Uh. More neon colours, lesbian sex, random Japanese art porn, a record deal for the girls...drug use in the club, confirming that this is probably supposed to be watched while high. The pacing and Yellow Submarine-like aesthetic suggests that, too.

Naia gets kidnapped. Parker contemplates and angsts. We get more exposition as Parker seeks advice from an old starship captain. There's some interesting multicultural content and equality stuff and transhumanism themes mixed in. The starship captain takes Parker up, and they have a brief crisis. There's more of the time-wasty talk and banter that runs through the rest of the film. Parker helps people on the ship. They help her in return and the rest is about her trying to get her girlfriend Naia back. For once, the Netflix summary really does cover all the bases.

Anyway, bad stuff happens. I won't spoil the ending, but it's a very moody-based movie and it really pulls itself together in the last bit. Kind of a shame the music never quite gets together enough. We'll talk about that in a second.

The Stylistics

So, the aesthetic. There's a lot of bright, psychedelic colours. Those of you who are so inclined will probably find that drugs are a good compliment. There's a LOT of neon green and aqua for some reason. And also animated boobs sometimes. And really awkward close ups of some of the most badly drawn kisses ever. And bat people. And cat people. And blue people, who are just chilled out. And--SWEET JESUS RED DEMON EYES NO! However, the weird Angela Anaconda motions of the characters are offputting. I can't decide whether the designs are good or godawful--maybe both at the same time? Some of the designs look profoundly stupid, but it seems like a lot of them were intentional.

For all those compliments and insults, I have to give it serious props for creative visual style and going all out. It's daring, and I can dig that. It has an aesthetic I recognise from my limited exposure to anime, but this movie does make that aesthetic all its own. It has a feel similar to Ganekutsuou, the retelling of the Count of Monte Cristo by some of the people who worked on the Anamatrix, but this goes all the way and doesn't go into stupid robot territory. Though there are robots.


I already mentioned this, but seriously. It's van art given life. Naia even does a damsel in distress/knights comparison the minute she meets Parker, and for some reason there's a lot of music. It has lesbians, it has sex, it has people of colour, it has noirish raver cyberpunky dystopian stuff in space, and it has Claudia Black and Tara Strong. How could I not love it to pieces? Also, bat bears that were technically human at some point.

It's gloriously weird and experimental, and it doesn't take any half measures. Also, the music is kind of okay, and Claudia actually sells her character. It's very symbol-laden rather than being purely literal.


Terrible animation and weird psychedelic colours. And the proportions of all the heads kinda off. It really accumulates to make for an off-putting visual experience. And if lespolitation bothres you, this might be annoying. It's not bad considering everything, but there's definitely traces of it. More than traces. It's kinda like someone took Sin City, added random musical numbers, and overcompensated for the black and white by overdoing the colours. Also, bat-bears that were technically human at some point.

The plot is also really confusing and too slow for my taste. If you have no patience for artistic movies, skip this one; you'll be frustrated. As for the music, Naia's singing is described as being the shit multiple times, but she sings slightly flat, and the jazz and whatnot used elsewhere weren't quite as beautiful and soul-transporting as they kind of needed to be.

Final verdict

You know what, I recommend this one. In some ways it's a failure, but it's such an interesting failure that you shouldn't pass it up. It's got some very vital flaws, so I have to give it a 7 out of 10, but it was just so interesting and different and weird and sincere that I have to recommend it. It's more style than substance, in spite of its best efforts, but those same efforts kinda make it work. Anyway, it's flawed but awesome, so consider checking it out, particularly if you want something different for background noise.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

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