Tuesday, June 5, 2012

i SPY EUROSPY: Operation Atlantis

Operation Atlantis
Director: Domenico Paolella
Year 1965
Operation Atlantis is an odd little Eurospy film that mixes elements from science fiction movies, peplums, and everything in between in order to bring about a movie that is anything but routine. The narrative is as scattered and bizarre as you’d come to expect from a combination like that, but what you’ll begin to realize is that each outrageous moment and unusual reveal ups the entertainment value of this obscure story, even if you don’t really know what the hell is going on. What you get with Operation Atlantis is a Eurospy film that keeps the traditions of the genre intact, yet adds so many unusual elements to the old formula, that it ends up coming out the other side an entirely different beast. It may not be pretty, but damn is this strange Eurospy a lot of fun.
The film follows secret agent George Steele as he’s snatched from his holiday in order to take on a most dire assignment. It turns out that the descendants of Atlantis have somehow survived and have put up shop in the barrens of North Africa. Guarding a huge deposit of uranium and protected by a radioactive magnetic force field, the Atlanteans posses a rich and rare metal called rubidium that everyone wants to get their grubby little hands on, most notably a criminal organization led by a ruthless and cunning man named Ben Ullah. Steele is assigned to negotiate with the Atlanteans in order to obtain the rubidium, keeping it safe from dangerous hands, but once arriving into their secluded community he discovers that they aren’t who they first appeared to be. With Ullah and his men closing in, can Steele find a way out of this mess? Who the hell knows, because I’ve seen the film and I still couldn’t tell you what exactly happened at the end. Now let’s plow through this entertaining mess.

John Ericson plays the role of George Steele, the overly confident agent whose clumsy approach towards women makes them go wild with desire. You probably think I’m joking there, but as silly as that sounds, that’s exactly what we see in this film. Steele isn’t the most debonair secret agent in the biz, nor is he the most good looking, hell I wouldn’t even go as far to say that he is even competent at his job as a secret agent, but what he does have is an abundance of confidence and a silly charm that goes a long, long way. Often at times, women literally fight over him, and Ericson does a great job in turning on that dynamic persona that makes the girls go absolutely nuts. As you’re watching the film, you’ll be in bewilderment because the character of George Steele really doesn’t do anything spectacular to get these girls and often than most, he acts kind of aloof when around them, border lining on rapist. This strange persona that Steele carries on his shoulders is just one of the many things in this film that just seem kind of off, but end up being a whole hell of a lot of fun when presented in this wild Eurospy world.
The women of Operation Atlantis are as equally bizarre as our main hero, with almost every single one of them suffering from some sort of bi-polar character disease. One minute they are following the path of a good guy, and then the next minute they switch over to the bad guys, only to unexplainably turn their allegiance back with Steele in a matter of a few scene changes. The tracking of these personality switches is exhausting in itself, but if you just sit back, relax, and take in the absurdity of it all, you’ll end up enjoying the ridiculous nature of this film and its characters.
Bernardina Sarrocco plays the role of Albia, the Atlantean princess that has a thing for good old George Steele. Bernardina does a great job in bringing out the fiery persona of her character and her almost manic disposition is both enticing and frightening. George Steele’s other leading lady is Fatma, the double, and sometimes triple, agent, played by the equally fiery Maria Granada. Even though her ultimate allegiance is never really clarified, I still got a kick out of her strong willed character and I thoroughly enjoyed the frequent catfights that occurred between herself and Bernardina’s Albia character. Last but not least, Cristina Gaioni rounds out the female cast as the blonde bombshell stewardess named Kate, who delights in teasing and sexually frustrating George Steele to no end. She appears and disappears throughout the film so frequently that you really don’t know what her purpose is in this film, even when it is revealed later on who she is siding with. She has the gorgeous looks to pull off the role and her mysterious nature only adds to her character’s appeal. Even if the production is a little out of whack, at least they have there fair share of lovely ladies to spread across this obscure Eurospy adventure.

Now let’s get into the strange elements of this film that really make it something of an oddity in the Eurospy community. Future tech is the name of the game in this entry, as the filmmakers take some liberties with the gadgetry on display. George Steele is equipped with a radio transmitter that is embedded inside of his elbow for starters, and he’s able to press upon his skin in order to activate the homing beacon and even signal when he wants supplies shipped in to him, vie helicopter. On top of that, we get to see George sporting a radioactive space suit that looks like something out of a science fiction film, when infiltrating the Atlanteans radioactive barrier. There’s even a strange sequence of events that depict a man turning into a block of ice, or at least that’s what it looked like to me, by the use of a rare metal called rubidium. Needless to say, the effects and gadgetry of Operation Atlantis is wacky as all shit, never taking itself too seriously and aiming for the stars in the name of entertainment.
Aside from the inventive elements of the film and its penchant for mind-boggling gadgets, the movie has a strange logic to it that never really makes a whole lot of sense. Characters show up without an introduction and leave in the same vagueness that they arrived in, leaving the viewer to ask; who the hell was that? There are many cases where a character will die or a group of thugs will attack another group, and you’ll be clueless as to why they are fighting or who they are in allegiance with. It’s very strange that a film can posses such astounding logical points, yet still be entertaining at the same time, but Operation Atlantis manages to succeed on this front. Maybe it’s the inclusion of so many outlandish concepts that keeps the film relevant while viewing, or maybe it’s the cast of unusual characters that splash across the screen as the movie speeds along. I really have no idea. All I know is that despite the film’s logical flaws, it still is an entertaining treat that really has to be seen to be believed. It’s a rare instance when something this scatter-brained ends up turning out watchable, and enjoyable at that. Oh, Operation Atlantis…. You mad trickster you.

Operation Atlantis is an enjoyable Eurospy entry, despite its logical breakdown and narrative-challenged nature. John Ericson does a great job as the super agent George Steele and his boyish obsession with the female form is ridiculously out there and especially hilarious. The man is as scatter-brained as the logic in this film, always thinking about bedding the next woman he sees instead of sticking to task and finishing the mission. I can’t even tell you if he succeeded with his mission, but that makes the oddity of this character that much more interesting and unusual. I don’t know how you can make a movie where the audience doesn’t clearly understand if the hero accomplished what he set out to do, let alone what it really was he was supposed to do in the first place, but this film nails that quagmire with expert precision.

Normally this aspect of the production would be a big fat negative, but in the Eurospy world this blatant disregard for a coherent narrative structure just so happens to work. It's the spectacle of it all that takes center stage, as the film relishes over the gadgetry, women, random characters, and outlandish plot that bombards the audience at every turn. Who gives a shit if it doesn't make a lick of sense, because it's fun and entertaining and that's all that matters. Operation Atlantis is not the most pinnacle example of the Eurospy genre, but it does have a special charm within its spotty layout, you just have to take in all of the absurdity and let go to appreciate it. This film should be renamed.....

You tell your friend to clean his ears out on his own time.

How did I get mixed up in this shit?

I'm a secret agent... want to sleep with me?

Damn guys! This script is terrible.

This guy is taking a much needed rest.

This man's hand is exquisite.

Well hello there.

Hey you in the front row... stop jerking off!

That's a comfy set up you've got there.

It was an interesting first date. 


You just keep those hands up Beardo.

This vacation sucks.

Now let's see that nipple slip or I'll shoot.

Next year I pick out the Halloween costumes.

It's the saddest man in a barley field.

Nice hat..... really.

You got something to say bitch?

Please don't pet me.

What are you two shitheads smiling about?

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