Barb Wire (1996) – Review

2 Stars

It was inevitable that starlet Pamela Anderson would eventually top line a studio-backed big-screen feature film. Anderson’s international fame from the television show Baywatch made her one of the most famous actresses on the planet, even if she wasn’t much of an actress. The public’s focus was squarely on her ‘assets’ and not her acting. Anderson’s ample bosom is on display early and often in Barb Wire, a sci-fi comic-book adaptation that is aimed directly at pre-teen boys and their fathers’.

Incredibly, Barb Wire uses Casablanca as it’s reference point, the only difference is the setting and time period. Barbara (Anderson) is a bar-owner, who also dabbles in bounty hunting, smuggling, and whatever it takes to stay alive in the dreary futuristic city of Steel Harbor — “the last free city” in a United States ravaged by civil war.

Barb finds herself the target of a shakedown by Chief of Police Willis (Xander Berkeley). Willis’s target is fugitive Dr. Corrina “Cora D” Devonshire (Victoria Rowell), a former government scientist with stolen information about a weapon being developed by the crazed, Colonel Pryzer (Steve Railsback) of the Congressional Directorate.

The Mcguffin here is a pair of contact lenses. The Nazi-like military personal are in search of the lenses and Dr. Devonshire, while secretly Barb is aiding the fugitive in escaping to Canada. Complicating the matter is Axel Hood (Temuera Morrison), a rebel whom Barb had been romantically involved with, now married to Devonshire and considered an outlaw.

1996 was a difficult year for movies based on comics, both Barb Wire and The Phantom were met with indifference by moviegoers. Thanks to Joel Schumacher, Batman was becoming pastiche, and the entire superhero genre was virtually flatlined. The following year would bring the darker comic properties like Spawn, and then Blade. Barb Wire has elements of the pop neon brightness of Batman Forever, but also the odd eccentrics that would later show up in Blade.

Director: David Hogan
Stars: Pamela Anderson, Xander Berkeley, Udo Kier

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