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Eric D. Snider

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Eric has been a film critic since 1999, and a beard wearer since 2008. He holds a degree in journalism and used to work in "the newspaper industry," back when that was a thing.

Eric’s Bad Movies: Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

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Imagine you have settled in to watch something called “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.” Such a scenario may be difficult for you to conceive, but humor me here. Knowing nothing else about the film, what one thing would you expect to be featured in “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn”? The destruction of Jared-Syn, right? You would assume that at some point in “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn,” someone or something called Jared-Syn will be destroyed. You would allow for the possibility that this destruction will be metaphorical rather than physical — maybe Jared-Syn will only be destroyed emotionally, or financially — but you’d be disappointed if the movie were to end with Jared-Syn still undestroyed.

Well, you’d better put on your disappointment pants then, because “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn” intends to fill them — fill them with load after load of chunky, steaming disappointment. Whatever you’d want a movie like this to do, it doesn’t do it. Exciting action? Nope! Likable hero? Forget it! Original story? Get out of here. The destruction of Jared-Syn? Don’t make me laugh. Not only is Jared-Syn not destroyed, he actually escapes. The movie is about a hero who fails to do the one thing promised by the title. (I can’t rule on whether the movie contains a “metalstorm,” because I don’t know what that is, but it probably doesn’t.)

The film is set in an Earth-like fantasy realm, or maybe it’s the actual Earth after the apocalypse. Either way, it’s the kind of world that’s composed only of desert, and there’s magic, and people wear a lot of leather and have names like Hurok and Zax. The guy who is in the place in the story where the hero would be is Dogen (Jeffrey Byron), a hunky warrior with noble values and negligible charisma. When we meet him, he’s driving his laser-beam-equipped tank in the desert when he’s attacked by a small armored aircraft, which he eventually outmaneuvers so that it smashes into the side of a cliff. This serves as an indicator of how the rest of the movie will go: Dogen will be attacked at random intervals by anonymous opponents for unexplained reasons, and he will defeat them by making them drive into or over a cliff.

Meanwhile, a lovely young woman named Dhyana (Kelly Preston) is helping her father mine for crystals in a cave. They find a big one, and then some guys come along and smash the crystal and kill the father. The main bad guy has a robot arm, but he doesn’t use it to do anything cool. (This is where the disappointment starts to dribble down the movie’s leg.) He doesn’t even kill the crystal-miner with it! For that he uses a special red crystal, which he holds against the man’s neck, and somehow it kills him, apparently. You know a movie’s bad when it can’t even murder someone coherently. I mean, if there’s ONE thing movies are good at…

So along comes Dogen, all Boy Scout-like, and he’s going to help Dhyana avenge her father’s death, yada yada. Robot-arm was named Baal (R. David Smith), and he’s the son of a fearsome villain named Jared-Syn (Mike Preston) who’s been stirring up the local nomadic tribes. Over at Jared-Syn headquarters (a different cave somewhere else in the desert), we learn that he is, unsurprisingly, campy and vaguely British, this being the standard for villains in cheap ’80s movies. He has a cigar box full of those special red crystals, which it turns out don’t “kill” people, exactly; they just take their souls, which are then transferred to a phone-booth-sized crystal that serves as the soul repository. Why Jared-Syn wants all these souls is not explained particularly well — what, you need a reason to collect souls in a big rock?? — but the gist is that somehow they’ll help him unleash the power of something, and he can enslave the locals and rule the world, or whatever, yada yada.

Dogen and Dhyana embark on their mission, being careful in their interactions to avoid anything like “banter” or “chemistry.” They drive Dogen’s armored SUV and are pursued by two other armored SUV’s, one of which goes over a cliff. The other contains Baal, who shoots Dogen with green ooze and scampers away. The reason he doesn’t just kill Dogen is [think of funny reason to put here since the movie didn't offer one]. But the green ooze makes Dogen pass out and have a vision where Jared-Syn threatens to take Dhyana away from him. When Dogen wakes up, Jared-Syn immediately teleports Dhyana away from him. Jared-Syn is a man of his word. Also, Jared-Syn can teleport people, I guess. Now Dhyana is in his clutches. The reason he doesn’t also teleport Dogen and get this over with is [think of funny reason to put here].

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So: what we thought was going to be the story of a warrior helping his feisty love interest avenge her father’s death is now the story of a warrior having to do all the work himself AND rescue the love interest on top of it. Dogen’s day went from “No plans” to “Sure, I’ll help you out because you’re pretty” to “Oh, what, now this is MY problem??” This is why you should never stop to help people in the desert.

Jared-Syn’s lair is in a legendary lost city, and the only person who knows how to find the lost city is an ex-soldier named Rhodes (Tim Thomerson) who’s now a full-time alcoholic. It’s possible the movie told us why Rhodes would have this information, but not likely. When Dogen finds him and explains the quest, Rhodes refuses to help him because it’s too dangerous and the lost city is probably just a myth. But after a couple minutes he changes his mind and goes anyway. Why? Because we’re at the part of the story where he has to change his mind and go anyway.

So: our lone warrior has a partner again, only instead of an ineffectual blonde who brings nothing to the table it’s a cowardly drunk who’s only doing it because the plot demands it.

They travel. They walk through sand. They have slow gun fights with enemies, and languid conversations with each other. They’re captured by a group of cyclops people — well, people whose right eyes are covered up by makeup — who say they’re trespassing on their land (which they are), and the cyclops leader, the mighty warrior Hurok (Richard Moll), agrees to let Dogen fight him for their freedom. He is very confident that Dogen cannot defeat him, so he’s pretty surprised when Dogen immediately defeats him.

Some more tanks chase Dogen and Rhodes, and some more of them drive over cliffs. Whether out of financial necessity or misguided charity, Jared-Syn hires only the worst drivers in the land. Rhodes is wounded by a henchman and can’t go any further, but Dogen is able to find Jared-Syn’s lair by following the trail of blood left by an injured Baal. So: Rhodes is never helpful even one time, and Baal leads Dogen right to his dad.

There’s a final showdown, sort of, and Jared-Syn gets to scream, “I have the power of the crystal!” That’s definitely the kind of thing you expect to hear screamed by a villain in a movie like this, so I guess that’s one instance of the movie not being disappointing. GOOD JOB, MOVIE! But then Jared-Syn runs away like a chicken, hops on his space-bike, and teleports into another dimension or something. “He tapped into the master crystal and created some sort of energy tunnel” is how the movie explains it, if that helps you understand any better. And thus ends “Metalstorm: The Promised Destruction, But Actually Just the Escape, of Jared-Syn.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: This was a 3D movie, so sometimes the characters point things at the camera.


Categories: Columns

Tags: Eric d. snider, Eric's bad movies, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn