A truly atrocious television mini-series (the second in the “V” series) has been resurrected for “V: The Final Battle.” This is (apparently) the second in the V series (“V” stands for Visitors, or maybe Vituperative snake aliens), and shockingly, not the last. In fact, the “Final Battle” was apparently followed by a weekly TV series which – irony alert – ended up being cancelled in favour of “Dallas.” Wow! What times the eighties were!
At any rate, this DVD wraps a mediocre TV series in a mini…um value package. The audio and video are as fine as can be expected, but there’s no extras or content of any kind. This is (apparently) in stark contrast to the Original Mini-Series DVD release, which was apparently a much bigger budget production, loaded with extras. Warning to V fans or collectors: don’t expect the same level of quality from this disc.
Anyway, this doubledisc set features the three episodes of the Final Battle mini-series, which pitted a small group of “Resistance” fighters against a supposedly friendly group of alien invaders who have – at this point – subverted 99.9994% of humanity. Spoiler in the next sentence! The friendly aliens are really evil snake people under their fake human skins (allegory in the face like a brick), who are only on Earth to eat us. Well then.
More spoilers: The Resistance is composed of a multi-ethnic group of salt-of-the-earth types. Fortunately for humanity the alien snake people have all of the political acumen of vipers as they spend the bulk of their time arguing amongst themselves and killing one another. Other notable items include a hybrid snake/human birth (yeesh), and a quisling priest who at one point states “This proves were all God’s children, made of the same genetic stuff!” Continuity errors abound: The second scene in the last episode features the main hero-type parachuting from an alien mothership hovering over a city – yet the shots of him falling are over wide open prairies.
Widescreen! Where did that come from? This was a made for TV mini-series, and I’m shocked to see a widescreen version for material this old. And this mini-series is pretty old – it shows. Scratches and dust damage are in abundance, as is the extreme graininess that seems to particularly inflict movies from this era (check out Star Trek: The Motion Picture for another hideous example). However, on the upside, colors are solid with blacks and reds clearly rendered and well-saturated, and there’s none of the artifacting or blurriness that plagued the Star Trek disc. Overall good work on the video, given the likely lousy condition of the master.
Straight Dolby 2.0 mono gets the job done in a decidedly zero-frills way. Try this: put in Star Wars Episode II and watch a few scenes. Then, fire up one of the V discs. That’s mono, baby. Note, however, that audio gets a pretty good rating – its well mastered mono, with voices and sound effects coming though well and clearly, if only from straight ahead.
- Michael Ironside is the strongest presence on screen here, and it’s great to see him in an early role.
- Does anyone else see parallels between World War II and/or Vietnam and the V series? There are a few great scenes where the Resistance members are discussing nuclear escalation (apparently the same snake aliens that have to scour the stars looking for people to eat have massive nuclear weapons), in which they seem to be referencing actual timeline events in Vietnam. Also the whole concept of the Resistance (i.e.: Charles de Gaul and the French Resistance), and the fascistic logos and imagery of the Visitors (snake alien Nazis) are completely unambiguous references to World War II. In case its not clear enough, the voice over during the celebration of the Visitor’s defeat finally intones that we are witnessing the greatest celebration since the end of World War II. Of course the “Greatest Celebration” consists of file footage of communist Chinese people standing in regimented ranks, and gaggles of destitute Indian peasants posing for National Geographic. Oh well.
- Check out that list of subtitles (8 languages!) – I had never even heard of Bahasa before seeing this disc. Did V have a big international following, or is Warner just an exceptionally progressive international company? Either way, an interesting choice of budget allocation.
Anyway, a lackluster series gets a lackluster DVD. No surprises – buy it if you’re a fan.