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By Sommer Browning | April 17, 2004

For a while there, who wasn’t poking fun at “The Matrix”? Late night TV, cartoons, my little sister playing with her barbies. All you needed was a couple of characters in slick leather coats engaged in a slowed down quasi-Kung Fu fighting scene and we got the reference already. “The Helix: Loaded” is thankfully a bit more ambitious. Like any spoof, the plot loosely follows its inspiration except there are more giant rabbits, silicone implants, and Vanilla Ice. Basically, a group of urban druggies including Theo (Vanilla Ice), Chad (Dane Moreton), Swatch (Brigett Fink), Nuvo (Scott Levy), Ping (Eugene Kim) and a few others who inexplicably come and go, are in search of the ultimate drug called The Helix. While some in the group are in it strictly to get loaded, the leader, Nuvo (Levy), seeks The Helix for what it supposedly induces—Enlightenment. The motley crew’s quest is guided by the wispy Infiniti (Samantha Brooke) and Orpheum (Dana Woods). It so happens that Infiniti (Brooke) and Orpheum (Woods) are also searching for something, The Other One, a being who can take The Helix without going insane—think: the brown acid. They had found The One before, but he died in a freak boating accident. Everyone’s plan is thwarted by a trio of special agents in black suits and sunglasses, led by Agent Smak (Geremy Dingle). The agents don’t want these bumbling Enlightenment seekers to have The Helix for reasons that have something to do with American Consumer Culture and Post-Capitalist Society. But all of these agendas and quests and, really, any logic whatsoever is muddled, which yes, is apropos considering the loose ends in “The Matrix” movies, but which makes “The Helix” reminiscent of an ad for antacid—“plot plot fizz fizz.”
On the other hand, the special effects (Ryan Carter) in “The Helix” are surprisingly good. It would’ve been way too easy to just cop a couple of Matrix-style scenes, which may ultimately be what “The Matrix” is remembered for, and forget the rest of the tricks. But the effects in “The Helix” went way beyond that, in fact when Nuvo (Levy) dodges flying bullets and Theo (Ice) stops them in mid-air it looks deceptively close to the original.
But the quality of a spoof comes down to how funny and clever the jokes are and “The Helix: Loaded” just isn’t that funny. Hijacked scenes from other films sometimes feel forced and too often the characters, like overdose-king Ping (Kim), try to be funny but are mainly annoying. Nuvo (Levy) plays a dead-on, wooden Keanu Reeves and looks a hell of a lot like him, but we already know even a comedy can’t rely on that. The craziest thing about “The Helix” is Vanilla Ice (who isn’t terrible!) and I can see it becoming some underground classic because of him.

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  1. Michael King says:

    You’re being WAAAAAY too kind — this is BY FAR the worst movie I have ever seen. I hated every stupid, unfunny minute of it. Hated it, hated it, hated it. Two and a half stars? This is AT MOST half a star, and that’s if you’re feeling rather generous. Respected film critic Roger Ebert, who unfortunately passed away a few months ago, would’ve done one of two things with this one: either flat out given it zero stars (which he did for maybe two or three dozen movies over his decades-long tenure) or he simply wouldn’t’ve bothered reviewing it, since this “film” barely registered a very short, very faint blip on the motion picture radar screen.

    Speaking of which, I don’t understand how this film (I use the term loosely) was actually released to the public. What, exactly, are the requirements for doing this? I ask seriously, because I still find it hard to believe this thing was released to the public in actual theaters and on actual, large projection screens where “real” movies were shown before Helix and will continue to show after. The whole thing feels like a school project, something a group of teens or young adults might get a kick out of doing for film class (with the added prerequisite that none of them understand what “funny” is). For that level, I’d maybe give this a ‘B’ (explained below), but for the general public? Not on your life. No way is it suitable.

    Besides the major problem that it fails at its principle purpose — which is to actually be funny — this thing has one big, huge, genormous problem. It’s the reason I’d give it a ‘B’ instead of an ‘A’ if it were a school project, and it is this: the filmmakers made the final denouement scene in the film, the one that takes place in the underground subway area, the slowest, most boring scene of the whole miserable affair. The scene just CRAWLS, and during its last five minutes or so (the whole scene is about 15 min long) the movie virtually grinds to a halt, with one character speaking one sentence, either asking a question or making an observation, and another one answering after several looooong seconds of silence, then another, and another, until the end of the scene. Imagine of people in real life spoke and reacted like this:

    “Hey man, hey you doin’?!”

    ……………(pause 5–10 sec)……………

    “Hey, I’m doin’ good, you?”

    ……………(pause 5–10 sec)……………

    “All right I guess.”

    ……………(pause 5–10 sec)……………

    “That’s good.”

    ……………(pause 5–10 sec)……………


    In an action flic in particular, it is vital during the climactic final scene that things move along, and that the movie have built up momentum just before it and continue increasing the momentum throughout. Instead, this monstrosity chooses exactly that moment to just… go to sleep. That’s why, even if this were made by young men or teens and I had to grade it, even if were to put aside their relative inexperience and lack of understanding as to what makes a scene funny, and even taking into account the obvious effort that was put towards creating (or recreating) believable special effects and the fact they are young and it’s good to encourage them and so on, I’d have to give them a ‘B’ instead of an ‘A’ — the movie’s failure to build toward a climax and to instead actually slow down and almost come to a standstill during what should be the film’s apotheosis as the whole crew are enlightened and finally understand, shows a clear lack of understanding of basic film “how-to”, and as film students the drop in grade would reflect this.

    That’s for a bunch of kids. To what standards should a made for adults by adults, in-theater production be judged?

    Doing a web search on some of the names associated with this project is enlightening in and of itself, not the least of which is the fact that of the twenty-two (22) names that are listed in the movie’s Wikipedia article, which includes twenty-one (21) actors plus the director, nineteen (19) of them do not have a Wikipedia page of their own — including the director.

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