“Strange Frame” (Movie Review)
I really wanted to like STRANGE FRAME. It has a cast that’s made up of some of the best known names in the exploitation and voice acting field – Tim Curry (ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, LEGEND), Claudia Black (FARSCAPE, STARGATE SG-1), Ron Glass (FIREFLY), Tara Strong (almost every superhero cartoon show), Cree Summer (ditto those superhero cartoons), George Takei (the original STAR TREK), Juliet Landau (BUFFY, ANGEL), Alan Tudyk (FIREFLY, V, DOLLHOUSE), Michael Dorn (STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE) and Claudia Christian (BABYLON 5, HIGHLANDER).
With a cast like this, how could it miss? Unfortunately the script by director GB Hajim and Shelley Doty, while earnest, just never engages. It’s a typical girl-meets-girl, girls-band-together-to-fight-the-power story set on Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons where Earth’s population has relocated to sometime in the 27th Century. The earth has gotten used up and everyone has taken a rocket ship to our new home. Those that couldn’t afford to pay for passage signed on as indentured servants for several generations – and many were biologically modified in order to provide menial labor in the mines.
Another area that is uneven in STRANGE FRAME is the animation. At times it is brilliant, reminiscent of the great trippy movies of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s at other times it is as flat as an episode of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS. Seeing several static images of faces with lips moving out of synch in order to show speech can drive you crazy after a while. Still, you still find yourself watching, waiting for that next great shot that will make it all worthwhile.
Where the film excels is with the music. Doty, who contributed the score and many of the songs that populate the film, has composed some very soulful jazz riffs on solo saxophone that will make your heart ache just listening to them. Claudia Black’s character Parker is an old-school sax player in a world of synth music, and the contrast between the two is striking.
After Parker’s lover, Naia (Tara Strong) is manipulated and kidnapped by an evil music executive played by Tim Curry, it is up to Parker and her band of misfit friends to find Naia and save her from certain death. After all, most musicians don’t start making the real money until they die young.
This is where the action portion of the movie kicks into a higher gear and the tension gets turned up a notch. In Thelma and Louise fashion, it’s these two women against the world. But all in all, given the level of talent that worked on the movie, I expected more.
Directed by GB Hajim
Running Time 98 Minutes