What Not To Watch: Warbirds
Dissecting a bad movie is not only an easy thing to do, I also find it quite enjoyable. But in this edition of What Not To Watch, I’m not just going to offer my criticism for the 1989 movie Warbirds, I’ll be giving it some constructive criticism, albeit 27 years too late.
- Now With 50% Less: If you are making a movie about jet fighters, you probably want to make sure the movie includes a good amount of jet fighter footage and not just guys in cockpits or explosions on the ground. This is especially true when all you have to fall back on is a cast of unlikable, untalented and bland characters. The top five credited actors in the film have a cumulative 27 movies among them. The fact that these “actors” weren’t cast in more movies was no accident, the fact that they got the work they did probably was. When you consider the fact that Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, and Eric Roberts have likely already completed 27 movies EACH this year it makes the 27 movies that the top five sad sacks in Warbirds “starred” in over the entire course of their acting “careers” all the more pathetic.
- You Can’t Top It: I understand the thought process of why the movie Warbirds was made. After the success that Top Gun and Iron Eagle enjoyed, why wouldn’t somebody else try to cash in on the popularity of jet fighter movies?! But if you are Warbirds you probably should not use the phrase “top gun” in your movie over and over again. It is not going to make the audience believe they are watching Top Gun, it is only going to shine a huge spotlight on the fact that your movie couldn’t hold Top Gun’s jock. It will also make anyone foolish enough to be watching your movie wish they were watching Top Gun or anything but Warbirds, including Top Dog starring Chuck Norris and a dog. And I would bet that the dog in Top Dog got more work in Hollywood than the cast of Warbirds.
- Direct From Today’s Headlines: The promotional material for Warbirds touted the fact that the story was based in the Middle East and how it was ripped from today’s headlines. But if only that promotional material could have touted the inclusion of a famous bad guy of Middle Eastern decent as well, this movie could have achieved cult status. The bad guy I am referring to is WWE Hall of Famer, The Iron Sheik. What Warbirds lacks in actual jet fighter footage, it more than makes up for with shots of the evil Middle Eastern army shouting and waving guns in the air. There is larger soldier in the movie that could have easily been portrayed by The Iron Sheik. Give him a couple of lines and Sheikie Baby would have stole the show. And before you say the obvious budgetary constraints would have prevented the producers from being able to get a star with the notoriety that The Iron Sheik had may I remind you that this movie was made at a time where Sheik was at a professional crossroads, so he would have been available and would have taken a low paying gig to help keep his name relevant. And this movie was also made at a time where you likely could have paid Sheik in cold beer and crack.
- Due Diligence: Before watching Warbirds I wish I would have done my due diligence and dug a little deeper into some of the particulars about the movie. For instance, had I seen that Ulli Lommel was the director of the film, I may have avoided it like I do whenever I see Nicolas Cage is the star of a movie. Lommel was also the mastermind behind the movie Overkill, which received a scathing review on this site and while I never actually saw that movie, Chad Cruise’s review of the film haunts me. But the people who really should have thought twice about Ulli as the director were the people who hired him and Vincent Canby, the guy from the New York Times who paid Ulli a compliment and had his quote used on the VHS cover. Side note: I do have to wonder if Vincent Canby was a delivery boy for the New York Times or an actual writer.
- High School Drama: Here’s a final helpful hint… when you are designing your “war room” set, you may want to make it look like it wasn’t a set built on the stage of a high school theater with paintings of clocks hanging against a black curtain backdrop. Seriously if there were any filming locations listed on IMDb for Warbirds and it said something like “Bayside High School”, I would in no way be shocked. But there are no filming locations for Warbirds on IMDb, in fact IMDb doesn’t even have the actual movie poster for Warbirds instead it has a cover of this VHS release that looks like it was from a poor man’s version of some Time Life video series…
The only highlight of Warbirds is the eloquent and poignant quote by the character named VanDam in the movie when he said “The Middle East is no playground for pussies!”
And you can quote me on this when I say, Warbirds is no movie for anyone who watches movies to be entertained.