Mad God, 2021.
Directed by Phil Tippett.
Featuring the voice talents of Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda, Anthony Ruivivar.
The Assassin is sent down into a twisted world of tortured souls and nightmares, all from the mind of special effects wizard Phil Tippett.
Imagine, if you will, a stop-motion mash-up between David Cronenberg, David Lynch and Tim Burton, with a little bit of Lucio Fulci thrown in there for good measure, and you might be somewhere close to describing Mad God, the brainchild of special effects maestro Phil Tippett, the genius who contributed to such movie franchises as Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Starship Troopers and RoboCop, plus notable one-offs like Piranha, Willow and… um…Howard the Duck (alright, but it did look pretty good).
Anyway, Tippet has spent the best part of thirty-three years making Mad God, serving not only as director but also writer, editor, producer, cinematographer, production designer, special effects designer (obviously), character designer, and he most probably did create a theme tune but someone told him “I think you’ve done enough”. Yes, Mad God is a labour of love and, as such, it is difficult to be too critical of what you see on the screen as, given what Phil Tippett is most famous for, everything is up there for you to see, be amazed at and appreciate how much talent and effort has gone into creating it.
Ostensibly a love letter to stop-motion animation – a technique of special effects that seemed to become almost redundant after the mammoth success of the original Jurassic Park, a movie that mixed practical and digital effects to create something truly stunning but got lost as studios tried to filter out the expensive physical props in favour of flat and unconvincing digital images – Mad God is a film that travels through many different scenes of various torturous actions, such as innards being pulled out and diabolical births, that are all witnessed by The Assassin, a character sent down to this hellish underworld by The Creator (played by cult director Alex Cox) to set off a bomb and destroy it.
That is pretty much the only plot you are going to get with Mad God as there really is no narrative as such; you literally do just watch The Assassin travel through various violent landscapes and witnessing the brutal deeds at hand as he sets about accomplishing his mission.
There are people who are going to adore Mad God, claim it to be as close to pure cinema as you can get and will routinely watch it as an example of surrealist filmmaking at its finest, and they are probably correct. On the other hand, there are those who will decry it as style over substance, offering nothing in the way of entertainment other than a visual spectacle and one viewing is probably enough, and those people would also be correct as Mad God is certainly an experience that film lovers will cherish due to its experimental nature, but the average punter looking for something to entertain them for 84 minutes might be best to think again.
Watching Mad God is certainly not a waste of time, but it does take a lot of investment to get the best out of it, much like how it was produced.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★