Directed by Frank Arnold
Expectations: Low, but very much excited to be done with these!
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
At long last I find myself at the end of the lengthy Josh Kirby film sextet. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always enjoyable, but damn if I didn’t get a few quality moments of WTF joy. I’m happy to report that one of the best of these comes in this film, the aptly titled entry: Last Battle for the Universe. While it is the last film, and there is a battle contained within, don’t get your hopes up for an epic confrontation between good and evil that will shake the pillars of the Earth. Nope, here it’s more along the lines of Josh Kirby wearing a thimble/bucket helmet and trading laborious blows with the evil villain contained in the time armor.
Once again, a Josh Kirby film is fairly unintelligible. I always get through the first few minutes following these pretty well, but as boredom and exhaustion sets in, I’m unable to keep up with all the lengthy jargon-driven dialogue exchanges. What I was able to decode was this: after finally retrieving the final Nullifier component, Josh’s time buddy Irwin 1138 reveals himself to be the true villain! As I suspected a couple of films ago (I think it was hinted at in Trapped on Toyworld), the evil Dr. Zoetrope is actually a nice guy. This is a change for the better, as I always thought his character was far more interesting and likable than Irwin’s. Anyway, Irwin steals Zoetrope’s time armor and whisks himself away. Where he goes is for later, as first Josh Kirby must probe the mind of Zoetrope to prove that he’s telling the truth (Read: Full Moon gets lazy once again and shows us a few minutes of footage from the previous films). It is after this blatant offering of stock footage that we finally find out where Irwin got off to, and it is here that the film hits an absolute high of insane, mind-boggling proportions.
Josh uses his time warrior powers to send all the heroes back to his timeline in 1994, as they surmise that Irwin will be headed there. Without warning, explanation or reason, we’re immediately thrust into a glorious montage of footage from every previous Josh Kirby film. Instead of simply re-playing the scenes as you might expect (and as Full Moon has been doing since time immemorial), Irwin in the battered time armor (not to mention holding the aged doctor’s cane. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen a mechanized armor suit carrying a cane around) is composited into the stock footage, usually screaming or doing something equally stupid. That footage of lava bubbling from Part 5? Throw the time armor on top of it and then dissolve to the doctor sliding again through time laughing maniacally saying, “You’re a genius, Josh Kirby! Almost as smart as me!” Huh? Cut to: the time armor flying through space over to the planet of Part 4 (which oughta be Earth if my logic is correct, but it looks NOTHING like Earth). Followed by a few completely random shots from that film and then we’re back to Irwin screaming in the tunnels of time. Man, I could not keep up with what the fuck was going on and I loved it. The funniest thing about it is that the scenes they chose make it seem as if Irwin will be reacting to or dealing with these people, but then inexplicably it will cut to a completely different scene. Irwin is apparently supposed to be hurtling back through Josh Kirby’s course through time (and stopping long enough for a lengthy section of a pie-in-the-face fight on Toyworld which I honestly don’t even remember from that film. Block it out, block it out…). It’s a hard montage to describe because it defies all logic in editing, but trust me, it was hilarious and highly enjoyable to watch. Either that or I’m clearly going insane from the ridiculous amounts of Josh Kirby I’ve been consuming lately.
Anyway, after all that bullshit Josh and his buddies find themselves back in Josh’s time, except they went back too far to 1980. This presents a number of problems (and eventually leads to Josh with a thimble/bucket on his head), but it also provides Josh with the one thing he’s desired most for his entire life. A Masters of the Universe playset? No, the chance to see his mother, who died shortly after his birth. Only thing is that first he’s invisible to her because of a contrived plot point, and then the good Dr. Zoetrope tries to construct a time machine out of a lawn mower and shrinks them all to miniature size. You can probably see where the thimble fits in now.
Last Battle for the Universe isn’t epic, nor is it all that exciting, but it is considerably more enjoyable than most of the other Josh Kirby films. It’s not good, and it’s still rather boring, but the plotting seems to be at least a little more ambitious and inspired than the last few in the series. The film actually features some limited camera movements too, in what has been a generally static and visually uninteresting series. If you really feel the need to see some of these, I’d recommend only the first and the last in the series, as that will be more than enough Josh Kirby than any sane person would need. I’m elated to finally have made it to the end, and to have made it out with my sanity… I hope.
This is the big montage scene of stock footage!
Next week I’ll be reviewing an older Charles Band film, the creepy looking Tourist Trap from 1979!