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1 review, 6 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Cute enough, but not notable for much other than being Turkish."
3 stars

I love sci-fi. Not to the point of praising bad examples of the genre, but I will try just about anything the genre offers up, and the more exotic, the better. I saw this on the schedule at Fantasia and immediately thought, okay, Turkish sci-fi comedy, I've never seen a movie like that; heck, I didn't know they made movies in Turkey. I was really disappointed when I couldn't fit a screening into my travel plans or acquire a screener, so I was happy to catch up with it at a Brattle screening a few months later. And even if this isn't the greatest entry in the genre, it's still a unique specimen, and what's the point of being a fan of science fiction if you're not open to new storytelling experiences?

The story follows Arif (Cem Yilmaz), a small-time tourist-trapper in Istanbul who is abducted and brought to the planet GORA by Commander Logar (also Yilmaz), who has designs on the beautiful Princess Ceku (÷zge ÷zberk). She wants no part of the power-hungry lunatic, as she confesses to her robot friend 216 (Ozan Guven), but she doesn't seem to be getting much choice in the matter. She and Arif meet up, and escape from the city together, where circumstances will inevitably force them to save the planet.

I gather Yilmaz is a big star in Turkey; aside from playing two of the main characters (and two other, smaller roles), he also wrote this movie. I like him; both his screenplay and his performances show a light touch. He's not matinee-idol handsome; Arif is balding and a little portly, in fact, while Logar is sort of oily. He seems to understate every joke he makes as Arif, letting the character's mild reaction to outrageous situations carry the comedy. Logar is more volatile; he's the kind of character who is not nearly as smart, powerful, and charismatic as he thinks he is, but is also genuinely surrounded by idiots. He does a pretty darn good job of co-starring with himself, and the effects work is good enough that even after I'd heard Yilmaz was playing multiple roles, I didn't peg Logar as one of them until I read it on IMDB.

The rest of the cast is decent, although I readily admit that there are few performances more difficult to rate than comedic ones where you don't understand the language. Ms. ÷zberk is rather pretty, and some of her lines made for funny subtitles (though the crowd seemed to laugh). She does come off as fairly charming in her scenes with Guven, whose android character is humorously cast as her best gal pal despite his male chassis. The name of Rasim Oztekin's character - Bob Marley Faruk - kind of explains itself, and he does okay with the standard part of the old prisoner with little patience for the new troublemaker.

Turkey's geography quite literally straddles two regions - part in Europe, part in the Middle East - and the movie reflects that. Much of the design and the costuming reflects a Middle Eastern aesthetic, influenced by the heat and desert that defines planet GORA like it does that region of Earth, even while a lot of the jokes - at least the ones I was able to catch - come from parodying Western sci-fi movies. At one point, Arif all but says "this is straight out of The Fifth Element!", and the inevitable Matrix spoofing works well enough. The film is quietly but proudly Turkish, though, with Amir's native language proving to be the galactic lingua franca, and GORAn merchants turning their noses up at American dollars but happily accepting Turkish lira.

The production values aren't bad at all; director ÷mer Faruk Sorak and his team have a good eye for when cheap is funny and when it's best to spend the money. As mentioned, the compositing work to get multiple Yilmaz characters on-screen is seamless; the digital effects for spaceships and the like look pretty decent, too. The sets are large and detailed enough to not look like the cinematographer is trying to avoid certain angles, but they also occasionally show the low-rent charm that a parody can get away with that a straight sci-fi film probably can't - I swear that the computer used in the Matrix training sequence is a Commodore 64. It kind of fits, though, with the scrappiness of the characters - G.O.R.A. doesn't have the money an American movie would, but that's okay - they're good at making do.

Yeah, a lot of the movie is as recycled as that eight-bit computer, and that maybe hurts the wow factor a little. It's a little too long, which happens when small film industries try to make a big film, sci-fi or otherwise - they can't bear to throw any footage away. But it's a fun movie, with a sly sense of humor, and makes up for its lack of spectacle with being a nice change of pace.

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originally posted: 01/18/06 15:22:22
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2005 Fantasia Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/29/17 –Ę—É—Ä–ĺ–ļ Yes Jay, you are right! When you are turkish, this movie is not just cute. 5 stars
1/10/13 m.seldon I have seen a few of Mr. Yilmaz 's films and his humour is delivered effortless and good. 5 stars
11/29/05 Gabrio really funny 5 stars
9/25/05 Gulay incredibly funny 5 stars
9/05/05 Blind Man Humour that bottom-feeds, in this movie a prisoner actually drops the soap in the shower! 5 stars
7/29/05 tommy this is a great movie. it is to find from 5 stars
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Directed by
  ÷mer Faruk Sorak

Written by
  Cem Yilmaz

  Cem Yilmaz
  Rasim Oztekin
  Ozkan Ugur
  Idil Firat
  Safak Sezer
  ÷zge ÷zberk

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