A fun, schlocky movie undercut by its leading man’s wooden and constipated performance.
Plot: Ator (Miles O’Keefe) embarks on an adventure to save his bride-to-be (Ritza Brown) from the clutches of the insidious High Priest of the Spider (Dakar).
Review: How exactly do I review this movie? I have no background with the Ator series, never heard about it until recently. It’s not as if I had fond childhood memories of it. So, how exactly do I review it?
Well, I can tell you that Ator is a big, kind of dumb, fun movie. It’s not a movie that’s going to win Oscars. If you’re the sort of person who needs the words “award-winning” in front of the fare you take a chance on, then move along. This film was featured in Season 12 of Mystery Science Theatre – so you know what it’s like.
There are strange things in the movie. A son asks his father if he can marry his sister. No, that happens. Really. A main villain who spends the entire film having tarantulas crawl all over him. No, really. A woman who doesn’t want you to remove the drape over her mirror – and with good reason. There’s just enough to keep you entertained and stop you from wondering what the hell is happening. Like how a magic mirror made the villain explode. Not die, not melt – explode.
The visuals are interesting. The movie starts with some pretty pictures of mountains – albeit with a long narration, which I generally can’t stand. The costumes are realistic, the sets are done well, and yes, I even like the big spider at the end that they won’t show you properly because it’s probably unfinished. There are also a couple of neat twists, which I won’t tell you. Oh, and the magic mirror is rad. And lots of spiders. Did I mention the villain explodes?
The one main drawback of the movie is Miles O’Keefe. He constantly looks like he’s trying to remember his lines. Seriously, I kept staring at his face to see if his eyes went up to the left or right when he spoke. I can’t help it; The Negotiator scarred me for life. When not trying to remember his lines, he looks constipated. Like seriously, give the man an Ex-Lax. The act of trying to act looks physically painful for him.
The rest of the cast is no hell, though better than the hero. The Spider King does little other than let tarantulas crawl over him. Though you could argue that’s more than enough. The main girl isn’t even the main girl – you think it’s Ator’s bride-to-be, but she’s hardly in it. Nope, it’s this girl, Roon, played by Sabrina Siani. She’s not half-bad, and her character even gets an arc – which I didn’t expect. Mind you, she wasn’t exactly acting against Olivier and Brando, but at least she tried.
The soundtrack was alright – it’s a mix of adventuring music, and while it doesn’t really stand out from other types of these sorts of tunes, it fits the action. The movie has one drawn-out sequence (the one with the woman with the drape over her mirror) that desperately needed to be cut but otherwise was well-paced. Despite its flaws, it is entertaining and keeps you mildly engaged. While this doesn’t seem like high praise, considering some of the overly-long and pretentious dreck we’re subjected to in modern times, give me Ator all day long.
If you’re a fan of weird adventure movies with some entertainment value and a leading man whose face never shows anything but indigestion, this is the movie for you! While this sounds like a bit of a swipe (and to be honest, it kind of is), I’ve seen far less. At the very least, if you want to see the entire series of 4 Ator films, you gotta start with the first one – right?