|"Through this lens I can see the future.|
All I see is botched plastic surgery."
As cult director Richard Stanley enjoys renewed interest in his work thanks to Severin Films’ new documentary Lost Soul, the folks at Kino Lorber have given the spotlight to an equally unfairly mistreated filmmaker who only ever had the chance to direct two features, Miracle Mile director Steve De Jarnatt. Though prolific in television work including ER and Nash Bridges, De Jarnatt’s only other film was the genre-shifting sci-fi action thriller Cherry 2000. The film is set in the post-apocalyptic 2017 where men have artificially manufactured androids for wives. One man’s lovebot, the Cherry 2000 model (Pamela Gidley channeling The Stepford Wives), short circuits and shuts down. Determined to revive her, Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) enlists the help of spunky bright red-haired bounty huntress Edith E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith) and ventures out into the lawless open desert of The Zone in search of replacement parts. Initially intended for theatrical release by Orion Pictures before ultimately being dumped on video after over a year of postponement, Cherry 2000 makes its blu-ray debut for the first time alongside Miracle Mile with a plethora of extras.
An admitted fan of De Jarnatt’s renowned and unconventional nuclear thriller Miracle Mile, I was looking forward to Cherry 2000 and while it proved to be a fun and colorful 80s action yarn, it’s a bit of a disappointment for ultimately being another poor man’s Mad Max. The film starts off really well as a Brazil inspired future of candy colored sterility and surreal set pieces with David Andrews turning over a good performance as a withdrawn nebbish who learns the hard way nothing beats an artificial seductress like a living breathing personality. While Melanie Griffith would later say Cherry 2000 was her least favorite film (and Roar wasn’t?!), her clever and confident heroine gives the movie a hip badass quality and comes off as a bit of a slightly more reserved Tank Girl. For a shoestring budgeted flick, it’s pretty nice to look at including some really cool stunts, notably one involving people in a car being lifted over a canyon with a crane. While not his best, the late composer Basil Poledouris turns in an exciting score that skirts between late 80s new age synth and familiar Robocop action strings. Cherry 2000 also sports some surprising cameos including but not limited to Laurence Fishburne, Blade Runner’s Brion James and Michael C. Gwynne.
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I enjoyed Cherry 2000 as cool yet lighthearted romantic action fun but the film undeniably loses steam once it shifts from being a low budget future noir to The Road Warrior which it can’t help but steal from. For its idiosyncratic attitude, much like Richard Stanley’s Hardware it suffers from the trappings of the sci-fi subgenre. Considering the daringly original direction with which De Jarnatt took audiences on Miracle Mile, in hindsight I have to regard Cherry 2000 as a conventional dress rehearsal displaying the director in the act of finding his niche. Not bad but certainly not great, there’s enough here to give viewers a good old fashioned time at the movies with some mild commentary on relationships.
A sort of companion piece to the blu-ray for Miracle Mile, Film Freak Central’s Walter Chaw mediates an audio commentary with director Steve De Jarnatt and there’s a small featurette on the making of the film with behind the scenes footage. Ultimately though, for all the motions Cherry 2000 goes through, it lacked the punch by the infinitely more satisfying Miracle Mile. But it was a fun way to kill two hours.