Galaxy Lords is pure cinema. Galaxy Lords is great fun and a galactic adventure in the stars. A group of friends went and made one of the best movies to pop into 2018 and I loved every second of it. From the Champions of the Cosmos having a starship battle with the villainous Adorastius and his now super powered ship to Commander Helios having a duel with enemy goons on airsleds that are clearly treadmills spray-painted red to Wranthelon flying through the cosmos as a rainbow-trailing star that was just waiting for “The More You Know” to appear on screen, the whole thing is amazing from start to finish.
In the far far future, the galaxy has yet to recover from galactic war. But their brief period of peace comes to an abrupt end when Adorastius (Von Bilka), the last of a band of warlords, is busted out of Space Jail Gargantuan by a cool cardboard robot who laser blasts many of the guards into puddles of red goo! Only Commander Helios (Dan Underhill), the hero who brought the villains down last time can save the day, but he’s retired and in self-imposed exile as a simple farmer, trying to forget the horrors of war. But the same horrors are also why he can’t forget, and why he can’t sit idly by while the galaxy his friends died to protect burns again.
It’s a love letter mash up to tons of science fiction and fantasy, from Star Wars to Flash Gordon to Tron, mixed together and baked by a group of friends who threw together some costumes and ran around in front of some green screens in garages and created their whole universe on computer. The retro designs, the neon glows on the spaceships, the constant creative potpourri of things thrown together and sent out to fight a giant robot that shoots lasers from its nipples. It’s just amazing. Helios actor/cowriter Dan Underhill was at this screening (via the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival, represent!) and mentioned that once they got better at production they had to be conscious to make sure things didn’t look too good, otherwise it would upset the balance of the ramshackle aesthetic they were working with. As a side note, I broke my unofficial rule of reviewing things I see at festivals in the order I see them just so I could get this review out faster, as I liked Galaxy Lords so much I didn’t want there to be any delay in the hype!
The biggest thing I worried about upon seeing the trailer was that Galaxy Lords would be one of those bad on purpose movies that just comes off as boring and annoying. It’s hard to do “so bad its good” correctly (even if I disagree with that core concept, but that’s another discussion!), and it’s hard to make a good movie in general. Galaxy Lords manages to do both, because you can just feel the love spewing from the screen in every scene. The creators were passionate, and that passion lived on for years of production and work and costumes and scenes that were probably shot and reshot several time as techniques and technologies improved, creating a perfect mix of just genuine talent and joy. And seeing it in a theater with fellow movie goers who were just as excited to see such a crazy film added to the fun. It absolutely becomes the kind of movie it sets out to be, and then transcends that into greatness. This film may have a specific audience, but that audience is fans of genre films, cinephiles, and those who share the cinematic zeal of fellow enthusiasts creating with all their hearts.
The story itself might be a retread of the old “King in the mountain” tales, as the retired hero returns to fight once more for the galaxy, but it does plenty of good work with it. Helios is scarred and in a funk, and has grown fat and soft. But he still has his spark, and soon finds his footing to once again become the hero that songs are sung about. Other heroes rise, a corrupt and decadent ruler shys away from war (bonus lol at the galactic king being a pig-snouted runt!), and those who fight for life must go against the rules to try to save the day.
Galaxy Lords‘s script is packed with Shakespearean dialogue with the verbose statements the characters constantly utter, often to other characters but occasionally just as soliloquies to no one in particular. The acting style is 100% theater delivery by way of live-action role play and Dungeons & Dragons. The speeches provide important world building, designating this future as a place where the long speeches are the norm and also tossing in nuggets of lore about the Seven Galaxies. It’s the kind of stuff I just eat up and demand more, MORE! But until Commander Helios returns to once again save the Seven Galaxies, we will still have Galaxy Lords to show us a wonderful future!
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