BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

MOVIE REVIEW: BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: JAMES MILLER, DEVON WYCOFF, JESEE LEE PACHECHO, LILY GRISAFI, EDDY JORDAN, KAITLIN MCMANUS, HAYDEN WINSTON, BRITTANY HANDLER, NICK WAGNER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (ON LIMITED RELEASE)

Harry Harrison’s profoundly anti-war novel, Bill, the Galactic Hero, is a rather odd book and has made for a rather odd movie under equally strange circumstances. Director Alex Cox is better known for movies such as Repo Man and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and had been working with the author on a version of Bill before Harrison passed away in 2012. Cox continued to develop the feature, working with students at the University of Colorado to create a uniquely indie sci-fi film.

It’s worth pointing out that the novel is a loving satire of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Given that the movie adaptation of Troopers was a high budget satire in itself, it seems rather fitting that Bill, the Galactic Hero is the exact opposite; faithful to Harry Harrison’s intent and decidedly low-budget.

You can see every single cent on the screen, the budget being so low that it literally went out and begged for change (the movie was crowd-funded). The crew have done amazingly well with so very little, and its firm proof that hard work and creativity (rather than pots of cash) are the key elements required to make good art.

The feature begins with a simple animated opening that sets up poor Bill’s recruitment into the Empire Space Corps. From there, we swing into black and white live-action footage, the lack of colour making both an interesting statement on Bill’s rather harsh world and also being a much more forgiving medium for a low-budget movie. Every key element is here, from the strangeness of the alien Chingers, to clumsy and crude equipment the humans have to deal with. Every element, from theSpy vs Spy-style costumes of the Empire agents, to mountains of food trays, has been carefully considered and lovingly put on screen. For such a low-budget feature, the scale and ambition of this project is amazing.

From the quality of the acting, to the surprising theme tune created by Iggy Pop, Bill, the Galactic Hero is an indie delight. It may never win an Oscar, but we’ll be disappointed if it’s not up for a Hugo, as it truly embraces the spirit of both indie film making and sci-fi fandom.
 

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Comments  

 
+3 #7 Alex Cox 2015-02-07 16:48
If your readers would like, they can watch the film for free at vimeo.com/alcox/bill
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+1 #6 darth 2015-01-07 12:43
I thought the movie was very good for such a low budget. Only issue was the audio can be hard to hear when the actors speak through their masks, kind of muffled.
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+1 #5 shaunP 2015-01-07 09:37
I was one of the kickstarter backers and i can say it was a privilege to be able to help Alex make a movie. We got the scripts and story boards in advance and i think im even getting one of the props when shipping time comes.

He has always been a low budget film maker and recently he has been trying to do more with less. One way to do that was to get yourself a job teaching film at college and get your class to make a film.

And lets face it, its better than RepoChick ;)
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+3 #4 Raw Power 2015-01-06 17:24
It's a crowd funded stab at Alex Cox idea of making movies on a micro budget, without the aid of studios & the creative limitations they bring. The production team were his students at the University of Colorado. So unless you have no interest or knowledge about how movies are made, you take it for what it is, not what you want it to be in your fantasy land.
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+3 #3 Rob 2015-01-03 02:20
They do very well with very little
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+7 #2 davidly 2014-12-30 15:36
@JTeegan:
If a squat has been taken, I cannot imagine that it would be Lucas-sized. Are you saying that Cox and co. surreptitiously funneled dollars to the amount of tens of millions?
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-6 #1 JTeegan 2014-12-20 08:34
You don't appear to have seen the same version of the movie that I just downloaded and watched. Yikes!

What a complete pile of dung. Alex Cox has taken a giant George Lucas-sized squat on a great set of books. I'm sorry I waited for the download to finish. ZERO stars out of 10.
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