Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reeking of Awesome: Streets of Fire

Whew, it's been a while since I had a chance to sit and write about anything.  I have a number of entries brewing in my head, including Why SaGa Rocks My Heart.  I'm almost done watching Kamen Rider Kuuga, so expect a review soon.  In addition, I have been re-watching Yu Yu Hakusho, so expect a review to follow its completion.

Anyway, last night, I recovered from a horrendous and sleepless week of school and work by watching Streets of Fire with a friend.  Over the years, I had heard songs from the soundtrack and learned of potential influences on other works, including anime.  My interest had been piqued for a while, and I finally got around to watching it.  Here are some thoughts about the movie itself:

The Movie

The setting for Streets of Fire is pretty interesting.  The movie has some pretty heavy 1950's retro influence, but at the same time, it's got that distinct 80's vibe.  I fancied that it might be a strange retro-inspired future setting or alternate 50's timeline or something.  My imagination was probably just getting carried away, though those ideas would be pretty cool.  It was probably just the 50's.

The plot itself is pretty simple.  Soldier guy Tom comes home to big city, hot singer ex-girlfriend Ellen (played by a young, steamy Diane Lane) gets kidnapped by biker guy (A creepy-as-usual Willem Dafoe) and his gang.  Motley crew of Tom, hot singer's manager (a really douchey Rick Moranis), and tag-along sarcastic ex-solder lady McCoy go to the rescue.  Tom and crew rescue Ellen, Tom gets laid, Tom kicks Raven's ass, and Tom leaves all soldier-of-fortune style as Ellen sings the final song.

This man never ceases to be creepy.

I admit that it's a bit shoddy in places.  The pacing is noticeably off, especially toward the beginning.  It kicks off so quickly without providing much time to linger on any of the characters' thoughts or feelings.  It reminded me of a role-playing session in that sometimes, when I play a tabletop role-playing game, the story is a little rushed and stretched in the beginning to get the characters together to form a party (if they aren't together when the thing starts).  Yeah, getting to the action is nice, but taking time to focus more on what makes these characters tick would have made the story much stronger.

The Awesome

Despite its flaws, Streets of Fire reeks of awesome.  Why?  The soundtrack for one.  The standout songs on the soundtrack, "Nowhere Fast" and "Tonight is What it Means to be Young", are both Jim Steinman songs.  Whenever Steinman is involved, you know things are going to get epic.  For those who don't know who he is, think Bat out of Hell, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and other over-the-top songs.  I'm a fan of his stuff, so the soundtrack was a treat for me in places.

Also, the movie has had a surprising influence on awesome things.  Take, for instance, The Protomen's Act II album.  You can tell just by comparing covers that there's some influence.  Also, some of the synthesized retro sounds on the album hearken back to the 80's.  Motorcycles, badassery, etc.

After watching Gundam 0080, I had become rather fond of Megumi Shiina's comforting voice, so I ended up with her greatest hits album.  Coincidentally, one of her biggest hits over in Japan was Konya wa Angel, the Japanese version of "Tonight is What it Means to be Young."  Her version is a bit sweeter, but they are both good.

I'm also pretty sure that Bubblegum Crisis has some Streets of Fire in it.  Just compare Priss Asagiri with Diane Lane:

Maybe I'm just imagining these connections.  Maybe there are more out there.  I could be looking at this whole thing the wrong way.  Maybe Streets of Fire isn't that awesome in and of itself.  Maybe it's just that it reminds me of things I find awesome, thus becoming awesome by proxy.  Either way, Streets of Fire reeks of awesome.  Go check it out and see what you think.

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