Plot: For countless generations, mankind has wondered if it was alone in the universe and now, that question has been answered. All over the world, massive flying saucers have appeared and despite efforts to communicate or even attack, there has been no response from the mysterious vessels. But soon a signal begins and after a countdown, human-like beings emerge from the ships and introduce themselves, as well as their peaceful intentions. The visitors wish to access some of earth’s minerals and in return, will provide their human hosts with invaluable technological advances, ones that will bypass decades of gradual progress. After some initial goodwill, a sentiment begins to grow that there is more to these visitors than meets the eye, which prompts the aliens and their human allies to announce that scientists have launched a conspiracy, to defame and harm the visitors. But is there a conspiracy against the visitors for no reason or is there some darker purpose behind their arrival?
Entertainment Value: This three hour miniseries is a sci/fi classic, an epic and well crafted tale of aliens, fascism, and of course, Marc Singer tearing people’s faces off, which is always fun. The narrative is a time honored one, alien invaders and man’s green and desire for power, with V blending classic sci/fi and war threads to conjure up an interesting tale. The tone here is serious, but V has massive b movie appeal and that is likely one reason it has endured as a fan favorite. The production values are great for an 80s television miniseries, but have some hokey and at times even hilarious moments, such as the infamous rodent swallowing sequence. I think the schlock elements just add to the fun and in truth, a lot of the classic alien invasion sci/fi movies are known for cheese, so V is part of that proud tradition. The miniseries is broken into two feature length installments and despite the substantial run time involved, the pace is good and never feels slow or drawn out. That is impressive, given how much set up and various development arcs are involved. The miniseries is on the dated side of course, but the 80s vibes are more likely to lure in viewers rather than the opposite and I love some of the visual elements here. The visitors uniforms, the propaganda posters, the special effects, I think it is all quite cool. So if you like sci/fi stories, alien invasions, or b movies, V is highly recommended.
This miniseries boasts a rock solid and even a lot of the smaller roles have familiar faces, so it is a fairly deep ensemble. If you need someone to battle aliens and kickstart a global resistance, who better than The Beastmaster himself, Marc Singer? Singer is a lot of fun here and provides a capable lead, using his charm and skills in the more action driven scenes to deliver entertainment. He might be a journalist, but he still kicks ass and he is believable as a rebel out to protect the innocent. Singer has some fight scenes and those are of course fun to watch, but he also performs well in terms of the more dramatic sequences. While Singer is great in V, Jane Badler tends to steal the show in one of the most iconic sci/fi roles ever, the visitor Diana. She radiates the cold, detached energy the role requires, but shows some fire when she needs to. And while the special effects are the real hero of the scene, Diana’s rodent devouring is one of V’s wildest and most memorable moments. The cast also includes Joanna Kerns, Robert Englund, Andrew Prine, Rafael Campos, and Viveka Davis.
The Disc: The full miniseries is presented here on Blu-ray from Warner Archive, in the preferred widescreen aspect ratio. The image here looks superb, a massive upgrade over the old flipper DVD and fans should be delighted. The image is clean and sharp, but retains the natural texture of the source and yields rock solid detail throughout. The special effects are a little more hokey with the added resolution of course, but some of them hold up well enough. The colors are natural and often bright, such as the rich reds of the visitor uniforms and the spraypainted V’s. This looks even better than I expected, an excellent new treatment for this sci/fi classic. Kenneth Johnson’s director’s comments provide his insights over the entire miniseries, which means ample time for production stories and anecdotes galore. There’s also a 24 minute behind the scenes piece, which has on set footage, interviews, and other insider elements.
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