Friday, May 31, 2019

Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe

Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe
Damian Lee

Abraxas (Jesse Ventura) is a Finder, a millennia-old being who has been tasked with protecting the universe. Abaraxas is hunting down his former partner Secundus (Sven-Ole Thorsen) who has escaped to Earth and impregnated (via putting his hand on her tummy) a woman named Sonia (Marjorie Bransfield) with a hybrid child. This child is the Culmator, a being capable of solving ‘The Anti-Life Equation’ and bringing Secundus ultimate power.

Abraxas is a shameless steal from Terminator (1984), just with 10,000-year-old middle-aged looking space cops. They chase each other around, shoot guns, crash cars, and get into the occasional lamp stabbing battle. The fact that this all takes place in a small Canadian town only adds to the ludicrous nature of everything going on. Not only does Abraxas steal from Terminator but it also lifts quite a bit from Jack Kirby’s New Gods comics, substituting Answer Boxes for Mother Boxes, and just straight-up ripping off the Anti-Life Equation. Writer/Director/Producer Damian Lee makes sure to heap on a lot of unexplained technobabble to try and keep all this thievery from looking too obvious but it doesn’t work. Science-fiction elements appear randomly only to serve lazy plot developments like removing our hero's weapons or why one Finder can withstand a machine gun blast while the other nearly gets put down from a minor stab wound.

Once you look into the dreamy bedroom eyes of Jesse Ventura you're never the same again.
Abraxas is a film defined by its quirks and one of its quirkiest elements is its use of music. This is a science-fiction action film that is scored with the remnants from a New Age CD bargain bin. You can watch dismayed as two giant men pummel each other while soft haunting synth choruses play. The final showdown between Abraxas and Secundus is set to a strange melancholy pop number that undercuts the action but not in an ironic way which would probably be the case were it produced today.

It is strange to see Jesse Ventura playing the stoic lead. Ventura’s entire career has been based on his bombastic personality, so to have him underplaying a character and given moments that (at least on paper) are supposed to be tender just come across as very odd. This is in no way Ventura’s fault, he really seems to dig as deep as can to try and bring some compassion across on the screen, but this is not the script nor the director to make that a possibility. Sven-Ole’s Secundus, on the other hand, gets all the best over the top scenes and lines, from threatening school children to eating the bill from a large breakfast.

Surprisingly there is a lot of intentional humor in Abraxas that actually works. Jim Belushi cameos as a principal who never realized he could ask kids to stop bullying one another. Abraxas explains to the cops that he has VD (Vibration Detection.) Secundus’ search for ‘birthing members of this species’ leads him to a strip club. Combining this with the unintentional moments and a breakneck pace creates a film that is never exactly ‘good’ but remains delightfully entertaining for its entire running time.

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