Tuesday, August 3, 2010

'V: The Final Battle' (1984)

Starring Marc Singer, Faye Grant and Michael Ironside
Written by Craig Buck and Diane Frolov
Directed by Richard T. Heffron

While the first "V" miniseries was an entertaining, if obvious, Nazi Europe analogy in the guise of a sci-fi alien invasion, this sequel, "V: The Final Battle" ditches pretty much everything that made that first show interesting and worthwhile.

Here, the alien Visitors rule the Earth with an iron fist, and people still somehow believe that they're "free" or that the Visitors aren't there to do horrific things.  Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) and Julie Parish (Faye Grant) lead the Los Angeles rebels, striking from their hidden base.  They manage to pull off a few small victories here and there.  After a devastating failure to rescue people being packaged up as food for the Visitors, the group concocts a plan to expose the true, reptilian nature of the Visitors in front of a worldwide, live TV audience.  Though their plan is a success, the Visitors are able to spin it as a hoax (somehow).

Soon after, the Visitors learn of the location of the rebel base, forcing the rebels to flee.  They're soon joined by Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside) who tells them that there is a worldwide network of rebels, and that they should join up instead of remaining independent.  They accept the invitation, while young Robin reveals that her pregnancy (hinted at in the ending of the original miniseries) is special, that the father of the child is in fact a Visitor.  Attempts to abort the child nearly lead to her death.

Then a bunch of random stuff happens for about two hours before the rebels manage to discover a bacterial toxin from the blood of the hybrid child, and a plan is set in motion to rid the Earth of the Visitors forever.

"V: The Final Battle" ditches the intelligence and analogy of the original miniseries in favor of a more episodic action series.  Though each episode is 90 minutes, it could easily have been split into smaller pieces, considering how often the action shifts to new locales.  The rebels move their base about a half-dozen times in three episodes, and people are captured and freed by the Visitors on a regular basis.  That the same scenario of capture and freedom is repeated over and over again with different characters.  Other characters that are obviously spies are ignored by the other characters, and a critical defection by one of the rebels in the final episode is given all the emotional and dramatic weight as a Jim Carrey fart joke.  The ultimate ending of the series also devolves into random silliness when the hybrid child suddenly displays magical superpowers.

Some of the creature effects are pretty rotten.  The reptilian alien baby is laughably bad, as is a large creature that chases Julie down a corridor in a hallucination.  The alien ship effects are worse off than the original series, as well; I suspect a lower effects budget.  There are far more laser battles in this one, so that's probably where most of the money went.  There are also considerably more locations, and it can be expensive trucking production from one place to another like that.

Still, the series manages to pull off some effective action sequences, and the actors have settled comfortably into their roles.  It's just too bad they were handed a crap script, since the original miniseries held so much potential for a sequel.  But series creator Kenneth Johnson appears to not have had much, if any, involvement in this sequel.  That's unfortunate, since "The Final Battle" seems to prove that he was the one who know what he was doing here.