Wild Zero

3 out of 5

Directed by: Tetsuro Takeuchi

With a splash of inevitability, japanese rockers Guitar Wolf would dedicate themselves to being their self-coined style of loud-ass rock – jet rock ‘n’ roll, after the sound a jet makes – each taking on particular ‘wolf’ pseudonym – e.g. Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, Drum Wolf – and this rather theatric (though no less legit) version of music netted or inspired a movie: Wild Zero, in which GW get to be god-like totems for pompadoured fan Ace (Masashi Endō), guiding him through love woes, …and maybe a zombie apocalypse, and maybe an alien invasion. 

Yes, it’s one of those types of movies, but to its B-grade credit, director Tetsuro Takeuchi tempers the tone to keep things hovering right at the line – and not beyond – of Troma cheek, employing a mix of music video indulgence for our starring band; overly dramatic line readings for our love-tortured leads; and then a well-juggled set of interrelated subplots and quirky side characters. This allows the flick room to slowly make its way to complete outlandishness, affording time to give us alternate points of interest should whichever mode in which it’s currently functioning (overly stylized post-Tarantino riffs; vaguely Benny Hill slapstick; low budget, home computer CGI’d splatter) start to bore. In other words: Wild Zero pretends to be a movie pretty well, sneaking enough consistency and distraction in there so that by the time you realize none of these plot threads connect much beyond happening in the same film, you’re already inured to the campy, self-aware style. And probably enjoying yourself, though whether that means a constant grin or guffaws at the nonsense will likely depend on how okay you are with its willful flaws, committed with a rather beguiling level of warts-and-all confidence.