11 February 2016
Maybe the book this was based on is better, maybe it’s just as dire as this straight to TV movie which in reality should have gone straight in the bin.
An astronaut dies and reawakens under water on a mysterious planet. It’s not actually that mysterious as it looks Earth like still and the atmosphere is evidently breathable. After breaking free of his binding and swimming for safety he finds a capsule on the beach which has all the clothing he needs to survive on the baron landscape, a few cotton clothes which when unfolded make nice trousers and a shirt. He turns around to face the sea and all of a sudden a wave of people are swimming for shore too. They each have a capsule of clothing too. Disturbingly the clothes all fit the people perfectly and they aren’t all the standard shape and cut, some of the woman manage to find capsules with skirts in, some of them have strapless tops in them. I noticed none of the capsules have underwear in them but all the people somehow have flesh coloured pants and bras. It becomes evident that people from all ages of Earth’s like are on the beach together, people from the American civil war, Neanderthal’s from the stone age, modern people it’s a who’s who of people who lived and died on earth – including an alien who died on Earth in the future. This is not heaven nor Hell, it’s like a purgatory where anyone who died on earth eventually goes. It seems Earth is no longer, these people are the surviving children of Earth and they have been reborn on Riverworld. This fresh crop of people are soon hunted down and trapped by existing inhabitants on Riverworld. The premise of the film from here is that the Astronaut leads a revolt to rescue the people who then set about travelling the river on a big boat looking for adventure and answers.
I really can’t say many good things about this. Perhaps the novel by Philip Jose Farmer was really good but this film adaptation, directed by Kari Skogland really isn’t. The film was filmed in New Zealand and this was about the only saving grace as it offered lush landscapes and backdrops. The acting was wooden and laughable, the effects were poor, and the flow of the film was bad. Like the universal but unique clothing no answers to why everyone speaks a universal language is explored, nobody seems really to care that much that they are all dead but still alive – I’d want to celebrate that. The ending was left wide open, presumably for a TV series branch off or a follow up film but I really hope nothing comes of it. As this was made super cheap and broadcast on the Sy-Fy channel I can’t see much coming of the open ending.
I’m giving this 1 out of 10 and I’m thankful that I won’t have to watch this ever again.