Sunday, 9 February 2014

Life's a Blast

Director: Shaun Mechen
Writer: Shaun Mechen
Producer: Penny Linfield, Adam Robertson
Cast: Scott Appleton, Shaun Mechen, Simon Ellis
Year of release: 2001
Country: UK
Reviewed from: festival screening (Can Festival, Leicester)

Very simply, this is one of the funniest science fiction films ever made. Psht, you cry, typical Simpson hyperbole! But how many truly great, consistently funny SF comedy movies have there been? Very few: Sleeper, Galaxy Quest, Sex Mission perhaps.

Of course, Life’s a Blast has the advantage of brevity, being only ten minutes long.

Appleton, Ellis and writer-director Mechen play three idiots, out camping in the countryside. Not annoying Dumb and Dumber style idiots but three good, traditional British idiots; three ordinary lads who are clearly not the sharpest tools in the workshop but are likeable nonetheless.

High above their heads, a damaged spaceship is heading toward Earth. It crashes near where our heroes are larking about and they go to investigate.

It’s a very small spaceship, and the occupant is a small, dead alien. But instead of being fascinated by this first contact with an extraterrestrial civilisation, the lads are excited at the wide range of interesting weapons aboard and take turns shooting them at each other. Until a second alien turns up, looking for its dead relative.

Written and directed with a deft touch, Life’s a Blast is a perfect ten-minute film. The acting and camerawork is excellent and supports hilarious underplayed performances and a tight script. The digital effects - spaceships, ray-gun blasts, explosions - are superb, a real testament to how professional standard effects can now be created at a low-budget level. (The film was created for the Carlton TV ‘First Cut’ scheme which means it had a budget of £10,000, including - a requirement of the scheme - cast and crew fees at standard rates.) The excellent production design on the alien technology also adds to the professional appearance of the film.

Life’s a Blast has been shown at various festivals around the UK, as well a TV screening as part of ‘First Cut’, and never fails to be a smash hit. Do not pass up a chance to see this terrific film.

MJS rating: A+
review originally posted 2nd March 2005

Addendum: It was quite some time after writing this review, when I was preparing an article on the career of Charlie Band, that it dawned on me that
Life's a Blast is a loose remake of, and its title an acknowledgement of, Band's film Laserblast.

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