Mr. Phil Tippett is a legend. He’s partly responsible for the visual effects in classics like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, RoboCop, and also movies like Starship Troopers. And even if he hadn’t proven his talent on those films, Mad God is a surreal tour de force that proves he’s a master in his field. Too bad it just didn’t leave much of an impression on me!
The story is… uh… something. Sure, you can go read an official synopsis, but that won’t give you any real feel for what you’re about to watch. A little man goes on a walk, sees nightmarish visions and creatures, and after more of the same the movie ends. Some of it does come together, and a good friend of mine–more on him in a second–had watched Mad God two times before watching it with me and he definitely picked up on little details that suggest there’s an overarching story. But the whole thing really boils down to, what kind of mad god would let all this happen? Title!
And don’t get me wrong, the movie looks great! Stop motion is a dying art and Tippett wanted to go out with one hell of a bang. A lot of time and passion went into this, although the “thirty years” that gets thrown around is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, Tippett started work on Mad God while he was working on RoboCop 2–which came out in 1990–but the project was shelved for twenty years. Ten years of actively being worked on is still a feat, but I feel like some hyperbole is out there around this film. Like, the whole thing feels a bit overhyped to me.
So my friend has (as of writing) seen Mad God three times. He says it’s the worst thing he’s ever seen, but grins like a maniac when he says that. It’s a compliment. But creepy visuals with a threadbare plot just didn’t do it for me. And it’s not that the era of stop motion is gone–I mean, it is, but that’s not what I think is holding the film back. Not to insult the time, effort, and passion going into this film, but maybe this should’ve been a thick art book, showing off all the nightmarish ideas Tippett came up with. I’d totally pick that up! Is the era of coffee table art books over, too? Man, nothing good lasts…
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