Tank Girl [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (8th June 2024).
The Film

"Tank Girl" (1995)

It is the year 2033 in which the world is suffering from a decade long drought following a comet strike. The Water & Power corporation, headed by the sinister and powerful Kesslee (played by Malcolm McDowell) controls the world's supply, though there are pockets out there that are able to survive without them. One place is where Rebecca Buck (played by Lori Petty) lives with a small group of survivors in the middle of the Outback where a small water well exists. Unfortunately, The armed guards of Water & Power attack the location, kill her boyfriend Richard (played by Brian Wimmer), and kidnap the others including Rebecca. While imprisoned, she gains the trust of a young shy but intelligent female mechanic (played by Naomi Watts), and it is with her that she looks to breaking out and taking down the greedy corporation by force.

Writer Alan Martin and artist Jamie Hewlett first unveiled the character of "Tank Girl" in the British comics magazine Deadline in 1988. During the conservative Margaret Thatcher regime, the character's attitude and its freedom expressed in a post-apocalyptic world was a fresh anti-establishment take and a sharp contrast to the country, becoming a cult underground favorite. Taking inspiration from "Mad Max", Steampunk and nonsensical humor, it was a series that was unconventional and stylish, and it reached audiences outside its home country through licensed publication. Filmmaker Rachel Talalay first encountered the comic while directing "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" in 1991 as a gift from her step-daughter. She fell in love with the character immediately and was determined to somehow adapt it for the screen. She took the concept to James Cameron's Lightstorm, Steven Spielberg's Amblin, and Columbia Pictures but all turned it down. MGM/United Artists eventually backed the production, which was headed by Talalay as director and screenwriter Tedi Sarafian for the story. In addition, Talalay hired future film director Catherine Hardwicke as production designer, though she had to fight for her choice as Hardwicke was not a union member at the time. Original creators Martin and Hewlett were consulted for the production as well. To create the kangaroo-humanoid Rippers, legendary effects artist Stan Winston took the job with his team of designers. For the casting, the first choice for the lead character of Rebecca went to Emily Lloyd. Unfortunately she refused to cut her hair for the role, and it was eventually recast with Lori Petty, who was extremely determined to get the role as soon as she heard about the auditions. With an impressive cast featuring McDowell, rapper Ice-T, Ann Cusack and having a budget of $25 million, the comic adaptation was ready to set the world on fire. But it didn't...

"Tank Girl" is seen as a feminist icon due to her open attitude in sexuality, her heroic acts of violence, as well as being a girl who wants to party and have fun. When in the film the audience is introduced to her character seducing her boyfriend Richard, she is clearly in charge of things as she points her gun at him and tells him to strip naked in a roleplay. When she is riding her tank, the phallic vehicle is more like a massive strap-on dildo with her firing off destructive loads. Even when she is tortured and beaten down, she is ready to crack jokes and not ever about giving up hope. While in a world where the oppressed are living in hostile situations, she has the most positive outlook on life and always keeps her head high with a wink and a smile. In most genre films in which one character's life is turned upside down with loved ones murdered or kidnapped, there is cold hearted vengeance that overtakes the lead. This is not the case for "Tank Girl". The character of Rebecca is level headed and upbeat, like if it was bound to happen then that was that, but it's more about an incentive to take action rather than enacting bloody revenge. The character was unlike any other hero in film at the time, without a dark and traumatic past that haunts her or a complex one in which her emotions are torn. She's certainly ready to kick ass, but never stopping to shed any tears. Petty plays the character with an enigmatic charm, and while she doesn't sport a British accent which comic book fans might have envisioned, her spin on the character seems almost too fitting, with her vocal tone and her fashionable choices with the post-apocalyptic punk look in wardrobe and DIY hairstyle. It's almost if the character was written specifically for her. In contrast to the flamboyant and outrageous Tank Girl is Naomi Watts playing the mechanic who is given the nickname Jet Girl. Her character is quiet, shy, and lacks confidence altogether. It was said that Watts was incredibly shy on set and behind the scenes, as she had never played in a major Hollywood backed project and was nervous throughout, leading her character to be just as nervous on screen. This was a few years before she became an international star and a mainstay in major films. Her character sees a gradual transformation by befriending Rebecca and Watts is able to quietly come out of her shell towards the end, hinting at more for a sequel that never came to fruition.

As for the male characters, McDowell is always excellent as a smart and devious villain and does a great job with his portrayal of the film exclusive character of Kesslee, who has a few tricks up his sleeve. Talalay and Watts have stated how gentlemanly he was on the production and was a true professional, even if he was someone that was to be despised by viewers. Another inspiration came from the film adaptation of the dystopian classic "A Clockwork Orange" (1971), in which McDowell played the lead role. The leader of the Rippers, T-Saint was played by Ice-T. While the comics had the Rippers closer to being kangaroos than human, the film had them look closer to human with the Stan Winston designed makeup effects. With the hours of makeup, hair, and animatronic ears applied, it is hard to see who played each of the Rippers, though the voice of the iconic rapper and actor is unmistakable with his cadence and demeanor. Apparently Ice-T heard from his agent that he was offered a role in a movie as a "stripper", which he became quite excited about. It was unfortunately his mishearing of "Ripper", but he took on the role graciously, even though he stated that he would never take a role again that required so much makeup and effects. Each of the Rippers have their own personality, with the commanding lead of T-Saint, the wise and orderly Deetee (played by Reg E. Cathey), as well as the dimwitted yet loyal and sweet Booga (played by Jeff Kober). Their characters and the relationship they have with Rebecca are key to the latter portion of the story.

As the comics went the wacky outrageous route, the live action version had to do the same, but in a filmic way. The grandest scene that stands out the most is when Tank Girl infiltrates Liquid Silver, a lavish sex club with an array of scantily clad showgirls and showguys in a massive setting. It evolves into a Busby Berkley inspired musical number with everyone singing a slightly changed version of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It". The massive set was at an abandoned shopping mall which was redressed and used beautifully. While the sequence didn't have some of the flair such as some of the more creative camera angles that Berkeley liked to use, it was a wacky segment that didn't serve to move the plot along but for smiles to audiences instead.

As for the music, the soundtrack album was a highlight of the production. The music choices were supervised by Courtney Love, who was originally planned to play a role in the film, but had to step down at the time due to the tragic suicide of her husband Kurt Cobain. She later lent her service with the female-centric soundtrack album, with songs by Björk, Hole, Belly, Veruca Salt, L7, and Portishead. Also included were the opening theme of "Just a Girl" by Devo which was rerecorded by the band with additional vocals by Jula Bell from Bulimia Banquet. (Unfortunately due to rights issues, the soundtrack album does not have Bell on vocals for the song.) The big band cover of "Let's Do It" from the grand musical scene from the film was not included on the album, but instead a rock cover with Paul Westerberg of The Replacements and Joan Jett of the Blackhearts was included. In addition, there were songs by Bush, Scott Weiland's short lived side project The Magnificent Bastards, Beowülf, Isaac Hayes, The Voidoids, Face to Face, Iggy Pop (who makes a cameo appearance as the perv at the Liquid Silver in the film), Sky Cries Mary, and of course Ice-T who played a role in the film. It also included a song by Stomp!, the visual art collective who have had a lengthy career on stage and was the first time one of their recorded compositions was put on an album. Not all songs were included on the soundtrack album itself due to rights issues, but were included in the film itself. In addition, composer Graeme Revell's rock inspired cues are completely fitting with the mostly alternative rock soundtrack that plays throughout.

There are guns, crashes, action, humor, and fun in the adaptation of "Tank Girl" to screen, but things don't quite feel whole. It can be disjointed at times and some scenes don't quite flow as well as they should. Talalay has stated that the theatrical version released is not her final cut, as the production was taken from her in post-production. She said there was about an hour of additional footage that was shot, including a completely different opening, a full ending, and more. There was a scene which showed Rebecca's bedroom at the start which had a number of dildos displayed, but MGM/UA decided it remove it entirely. There were also additional scenes of the character of Sub Girl (played by Ann Cusack) making her a more prominent character, but she was mostly cut as they did not move the plot along. In addition, the Stan Winston team created a penis for the Ripper character Booga which was shot for a scene but an alternate take covering it was used instead. Some of the scenes like the opening and ending were given animation in the style of the comics, but it seemed like a sore miss to have the actual live action opening and ending removed. A handful of the deleted scenes have been recovered from a workprint, but have never been issued on home video as extras as of yet. While MGM/UA were excited about the film when funding it, the changes of leadership at the time led the project to the lower end of importance, and eventually they were reluctant about marketing and selling a female-led comedy action comic book adaptation film, as there had never been anything like it. Cuts were made, changes were applied. A controversial decision was the MPAA rating the film as R, even though it was very tame with sex, violence, and language compared to other R features. It was basically placed due to "suggestive" nature and MGM/UA did nothing to appeal the rating, so it restricted a major group from seeing it. The soundtrack album was first released on March 28th, 1995 on Elektra Records, followed by the theatrical premiere a few days later on March 30th at Graumann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. The general theatrical release was a day later on March 31st. MGM/UA released it on 1,341 screens and it grossed just over $2 million over the weekend, landing at a poor 10th place in the box office ranking. The second weekend it fell to 15th place and the film ended up grossing $4 million in the United States and $2 million internationally, making it a massive bomb for the studio. As for the comic, it ended in 1995 with Deadline magazine ceasing.

Although there was disappointment from Talalay, Hewlett, and Martin on how the film turned out, it did find an audience later on cable and home video. Tank Girl's fashion and attitude influenced the music scene and media gradually, cosplays with her character would continue into the new century, and it led to the return of Tank Girl in 2007 with new comics being written. The film has its imperfections but is still an enjoyable ride with its quirkiness and positive attitudes that probably would make a hit in the 2020s. But for the 1990s, it was just to radical for the mainstream. It is said that actress Margot Robbie's production company optioned the rights in 2019 but was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Would a live action reboot make sense now? Sure would. Could anyone top Lori Petty? Difficult to say, but ladies, if she does return, "Lock up your sons!"

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray


Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. The HD transfer comes from the rightsholder MGM. "Tank Girl" is a very colorful film with its diverse environments seen, from the barren deserts with bland browns to the vibrant and bright hues in Liquid Silver and the coldness in the Water & Power headquarters. This is in addition to the colors seen in the wardrobes. The transfer seems identical to the HD transfer seen on the US Shout! Factory Blu-ray from 2013, which was good, but had some minor issues. During the credit sequences and other animated sequences, there are visible speckles around and the colors are seemingly not as vibrant. As for the rest of the live action scenes, they look better with damage marks being extremely minimal, though colors seem to be toned down a notch. It lies more toward paler skin tones rather than having a natural hue. Detail is quite strong and overall it is a good looking transfer, but is it seems like this would be a prime candidate for a newer restoration.

The film's runtime is 104:03.


English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo

There are both lossless 5.1 and 2.0 options for the film. It was originally mixed in DTS surround theatrically, and the 5.1 track here does a great job with the use of surrounds. The film has many segments with music as well as effects with gunfire and mechanical whirs, and the surround channels get a nice workout with everything playing on screen. Dialogue is kept centered and is always balanced fairly against the music and effects. There are no issues of dropout, hiss, crackle, or other problems with the sound for a robust audio track throughout.

There are optional English HoH subtitles for the main feature. Though for some reason THE CAPS LOCK WAS TURNED ON, SO ALL DIALOGUE AND CAPTIONS ARE PRESENTED IN UPPER CASE. It's not the ideal choice, but on the brighter side, they are well timed and without errors, and the song lyrics for the background music are also subtitled.


Audio Commentary with actress Lori Petty and director Rachel Talalay (2013)
This commentary has Petty and Talalay reunited to discuss about the film eighteen years later. Talalay discusses examples of clashes she had with MGM/UA over the content, material that was excised, choices for the music cues, the set designs by Hardwicke, working with the writers, the fashion choices, the difficulties with the production and many behind the scenes stories. Petty also has a lot of memories to discuss, from working with McDowell, the choices she made with the performance, questioning the R-rating, the film inspiring other musicians, actors, and the fashion world, and more. It's a lively chat and they have a lot of great stories to tell, both positively and negatively. Talalay also discusses how the film was shot with the 2.35:1 aspect ratio in mind and was always upset by the pan & scan version for 1.33:1 televisions. She also states here (as well as in the booklet) that the initial DVD by MGM was cropped to 1.78:1 rather than being in 2.35:1, but this might be her misremembering, as the initial MGM DVDs had the film in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio correctly. Note this commentary was first available on the North American Shout! Factory Blu-ray/DVD release.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"The Revolution Will Be Ahead of Its Time" 2024 interview with director Rachel Talalay (16:38)
This new and exclusive interview has Talalay recalling about the project, from her first read of the graphic novel and her desire to direct an adaptation, her pitches to Cameron and Spielberg, the comic book logic of the story, Courtney Love's involvement, the casting process, behind the scenes and much more. There is a bit of overlap with the interview and the commentary, but it is still a great listen.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"I Am Tank Girl" 2024 interview with Lori Petty (10:51)
Another exclusive interview, this has Petty talking about getting the role, working with the cast and crew, on set accidents, being in awe of McDowell, the shyness of Watts, adlibs made by her character, the reception, and more. Again, there is some overlap with the commentary, but she still has some interesting things stated in this interview.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Anarchy From the UK" 2024 interview with production designer Catherine Hardwicke (7:27)
Another new interview, this has Hardwicke discussing her work on the project, from using existing abandoned sites such as the industrial complex and the shopping mall and dressing over them, and the creative freedom she had. The interview seems a bit short, as she probably could have said more about the work she did.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"The Shape of Ripper" 2024 interview with actor Doug Jones (11:31)
The last new and exclusive interview is with actor Doug Jones, who has become well known for playing a variety of characters while in full body makeup such as in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" as the title character, and a number of works by Guillermo del Toro including Abe Sapien in "Hellboy", the Pale Man and the Faun in "Pan's Labyrinth", and the amphibian creature in "The Shape of Water". For "Tank Girl", Jones played one of the Rippers but was one without any dialogue. He discusses how he was cast, the lengthy makeup process, wearing heavy battery packs for the animatronics, remembers working with the other actors, the dance choreography, and more.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"(Tank) Girl Power" 2024 Video Essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (10:15)
This new video essay by Heller-Nicholas looks at the shaping of feminism in the 1990s, with examples of music icons, film icons, and how they compare with Rebecca from "Tank Girl" and the themes explored in the film itself. There are numerous clips of the film, as well as other features such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992), "Bad Girls" (1994), "The Craft" (1996) and more, plus music videos of artists that fit into the mold.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Tank Girl" 1995 EPK featurette (5:04)
This vintage making-of includes interviews with the actors plus Stan Winston on set, with some behind the scenes footage and narration about the production. It has timecode markers visible on the screen, and it seemingly comes from an analogue tape source. There is a little issue with the audio. For home theater setups with Pro-Logic, it should be disabled. If Pro-Logic is turned on, the 2-channel mono sound will cancel each other out to make everything almost entirely mute.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Theatrical Trailer (1:34)
The original US theatrical trailer is presented here in very good condition in HD, though there are some scratches and speckles here and there. The trailer has also been embedded below, from MGM's YouTube channel.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

The film was first released on the DVD format by MGM in 2001 in the United States, followed by a worldwide rollout, which had the film with an anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer, with the only extra being the theatrical trailer. It was upgraded to the Blu-ray format in 2013 with the North American release by Shout! Factory, which included a commentary by Talalay/Petty and three newly conducted interviews. One with Petty, one with Talalay, and one with Hardwicke. It also had the vintage EPK featurette and the theatrical trailer. A Japanese Blu-ray from TC Entertainment followed in 2016 as well as a German Blu-ray release from Koch Media in 2020, which basically both repeated the extras from the Shout! Factory release. This new Umbrella Entertainment release has the commentary, EPK featurette and the original trailer, but lacks the three interviews with Talalay, Petty, and Hardwicke and replaces them with brand new interviews with the same three participants plus a new interview with actor Doug Jones plus a video essay.

Other notable clips:

The teaser trailer with exclusive footage

US TV Spot

Escape attempt scene

Ripper invasion scene

Dinner with the Rippers scene

Lori Petty and Naomi Watts interrogation scene

Lori Petty and Naomi Watts are Post-Apocalyptic Tank Girls

"2¢" music video by Beowülf, which was featured in the film but couldn't be licensed for the soundtrack album. The music video was directed by Talalay, and featured "Tank Girl" animation.

"Army of Me" music video by Björk, which was originally slated to have "Tank Girl" scenes included, but instead was made with a new and original concept by Michel Gondry".

Devo's music video for "Girl You Want", the original version of the song.

Lori Petty and Malcolm McDowell on CBS This Morning in 1995 promoting the film

Interview with Naomi Watts on the film from 1995

Ice-T on the Howard Stern Show discussing how he was cast in "Tank Girl"

Catherine Hardwicke audio interview by Jordan Crucchiola

Deleted Scenes from the workprint:

Original opening

Tank Girl's bedroom (age-restricted clip and cannot be embedded)

The cold room

Booga beds Tank Girl

Original ending part 1

Original ending part 2


The disc is packaged in a clear keep case with a reversible inlay with the original theatrical poster artwork. The only difference is the opposite side lacks the Australian M rating logos. The packaging states region B only, but it is in fact region free. It is also available with a limited edition slipcover exclusively at the Umbrella Web Shop with unique artwork.

It is also available in a Collector's Edition limited to 2000 copies which also includes a 48 page book with behind-the-scenes, experiences and art, a custom artwork outer rigid slipcase illustrated by David ‘Loopy Dave’ Dunstan, a classic poster art slipcase, 8 replica lobby cards, and an A3 reversible poster.

The book starts with a new and exclusive introduction by Talalay on the film, her memories, and its legacy, and it has some new information as well. Next is the essay "Iron Ladies, Riot Grrrls, and the Surreal Superheroics of Rachel Talalay's Tank Girl" by Anton Bitel which looks at the comic and the film's themes. Next is a text interview with writer Martin Miller who wrote the tie-in novelization "Tank Girl: The Movie: A Novel" on the adaptation, conducted by Jerret Gahan. Last there is "Lords & Ladies of the Wasteland: The Post-Apocalypse as Seen in Cold War Genre Cinema" by John Harrison, which is an overview of the vast genre. There are also 6 high quality artcards with stills from the film, plus the double sided poster which has the original theatrical poster art as seen on the inlay in full size, and the newly created artwork by Dunston on the opposite side. The poster is folded in the keep case, and the keep case, artcards, and book fit well in the sturdy box.


"Tank Girl" may have its flaws from comic to screen, but it is undeniably fun with the post-apocalyptic world seen through her eyes, as well as having a memorably great soundtrack. The Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray has a good transfer of the film, a great commentary plus some exclusive new interviews, making it highly recommended.

The Film: B- Video: B Audio: A Extras: A Overall: B+


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