Thursday, 27 January 2022

Mad God

A stop-motion animation project decades in the making, Phil Tippett's Kickstarted shorts have - finally - blossomed into a full-length feature. Far longer than the constituent parts drip-feed over the tail-end of the 2010s, this Mad God pulls apart those three previously released episodes then stitches them back together around deeper, meaner, digressions. As always, a sturdy looking fellow in a gas mask is airdropped into a Hell of scratch built rot from the skies above, tasked with making sense of a crumbling map and the relentless gnashing around him. His journey excavates dozens of extinct, and still-functional, realms; all fixated on cruelty as an industry with no clear outcome. These wanders take the gas masked assassin to the centre of this sunken creation to set a bomb that has no hope of detonating. A framing device, presented upfront, likens this trial to the Godly tantrum that toppled Babel - an affront fired from Heaven that split a united mankind into countless, warring, factions. 

Alex Cox stands in for the Judeo-Christian creator here, the Repo Man director cast as the sky-faring general compelling thousands of identikit ThreeA action figures to, monotonously, climb into a diving bell to brave automated flak guns and the swirling infernos below. Cox's character, the supremely powerful tinkerer - complete with those Howard Hughesian markers of the moldering magnate, the claw like toenail - is our sole glimpse of a humanity without any obvious physical or temporal distortions. The destiny of our species then to make endless war on our barbarous, animated, offspring: the movie monsters held in a dusted, worshipful, repose or the factory that presses (then batters) a small army of shitty lint people. Tippet's film is marvelous; a kaleidoscopic throb of unexpunged, constantly updating, imagination that deliberately works against niceties like a corporate friendly dramatic wavelength or, even, dialogue. Mad God instead centres itself around consumption and excretion, both in terms of literal on-screen action and the infernal machinery that compels the damned to stagger forward. 

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