Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

V: THE FINAL BATTLE

Directed by Richard T. Heffron (1984, Warner Bros. TV)
Starring Jane Badler, Michael Durrell, Robert Englund, Faye Grant, Michael Ironside, and Marc Singer

The resistance fights the Visitors using all means at their disposal, including a deadly bacteria.

 

 

4 stars

September 25th to 28th, 2016 on DVD for the 7th time  
   

I  still like this mini-series, and the story stands the test of time, even if the effects don't. When I was young, this was the first of the V stories that I saw -live. Although it doesn't have the depth that the original miniseries did, it is still relevant and tells a great story of resistance and survival. As mentioned below, the ending was way too sudden and a little cheesy. I don't like the way Elisabeth fades out -do the Visitors have this power? If not, where did she get it from? As a side note, I'd never want to get on Diana's bad side! She kills her two commanding officers, doing the work of the resistance for them.

 

 

4 stars

August 21st to 22nd, 2002 on DVD for the 6th time  
   

I just had to buy the DVD when this movie came out. I don't have the first mini-series on DVD, but since this one is new, I decided to take the plunge. And was it ever worth it!

The best thing about this version of V: The Final Battle is the widescreen. I really liked the effect it had on the tone of each shot. This is especially noticeable in any scene on the Visitor ship, where the corridors actually make up a significant framing part of the screen. It revealed a lot of background and space around the characters, giving the close-ups a little more room.

As always with DVDs, I noticed the music more than usual. As I've always maintained, it is very enjoyable, and reflects the mood of each scene perfectly, especially when launching the balloons. However, the love music reminded me more of a soap opera than anything inspiring!

Several things stood out for me this time around, not all of them in a good light. At the very beginning, the characters complain about needing better weapons. It turns out that they have killed many Visitors, and each of those had laser weapons. Simply picking one up would have given them plenty of munitions.

I still don't understand why Martin and the 5th column would risk the increased security and scrutiny by betraying knowledge of their existence just for rescuing Julie from the conversion chamber.

And I have just realized how many opportunities the resistance had to kill Diana and Steven! Donovan had Diana in his grip in their attack on John in the medical center. Both Diana and Steven were easy targets when they escorted Julie to Earth -other guards so close to them were hit; they should have been high priorities. And of course there was the end in the control room.

Good and bad is Christine's disillusionment. It is foreshadowed right from the beginning, and her unease with the Visitors grows. I am sure she started wondering after Donovan left in the previous series. But Diana was really stupid to gloat about the conversion of the doctor. A few days apart (or even weeks; it doesn't matter), the doctor first scorned her, and then congratulated her on being a terrific newswoman! Surely she knew that it would make Christine even more insecure. But I wonder if it was meant to test Christine's loyalty, which was obviously not as great as Donovan's mother's was. However, the handling of Christine's fall was very well scripted, as she gets more and more evidence that the Visitors are actually the beasts that the resistance says they are.

More foreshadowing comes from the wonderful performance by Ruby before her death. I thought there was some foreshadowing in the delicious rivalry between Diana and Steven, but it peters out halfway through and gets no resolution.

I quite enjoyed Julie's partial conversion. It brought a whole slew of questions to mind, but they were good questions, the kind that makes you want to have a TV series that deals with it! We knew from the first series that people were converted. But until the second part of this series, we didn't know what that entailed. The images were all made in terms of reptiles (some of which looked really fake, or a failed attempt at scaling), which made me wonder if they were leftover code from Diana using the process on her own people.

I must also repeat that I found the movie to end way too suddenly. It would have been nice to have Robin see Elisabeth again. Even in the TV show premiere, we don't get to see any aftermath to the events featured here. Diana was not very smart in fleeing to Earth. When she realized that the ship was disarmed, she might have been able to sneak into a closet, take a few antidote pills, or something. Ah, well...

The DVD has no extras whatsoever, which is an extreme disappointment. At the very least, the trailers would have been great to have. But I also would have enjoyed a director's commentary, which might have shed some light on the things I had questions about. I would have liked to hear what the director had to say about using telepathy between Diana and Julie at the end -where did that come from? And please explain to me what cyborg abilities Elisabeth had, to win a fight against the computer? I also wondered if all of the mother ships could be turned into doomsday devices, but that likely would not have been answered.

As it stands, though, no questions were answered, because they didn't even try!

I didn't like the fact that I had to flip the DVD to get from part 1 to part 2. Given that there were no extras on the disc, would it have been too much trouble to put everything on a dual layer? I suppose this justified to the makers the use of the opening and closing credits on all three parts. Normal multiple-DVDs move seamlessly from one to the other. Not so here. Along with the credits, I wish they had done some work and removed the commercial fades, as well, making the movie seamless. Too late for any of that, though...

However, the movie is worth having, if only to replace my faded tape from almost 20 years ago, which was re-taped at least once to remove the commercials, possibly more. Shown on DVD, the image was so colorful, so crisp, it was beautiful to watch. The widescreen and the sound (which also had no options) were awesome. Although many of the effects didn't hold up too well, including the ones mentioned below and several new ones that I noticed only because of the quality of the image, many of the others did. For example, the laser beams and many shuttle launches (on the ground, not in space) were expertly done.

True, the DVD is worth owning simply to see the movie with these great characteristics, but I want more. Still, this was great to re-watch, and a definite keeper!

 

 

4 stars

August 23rd to 26th, 2001 on Video for the 5th time  
   

Not quite as interesting as the first mini-series, but with a beautiful silent battle at the end. Lots of neat stuff happened here, making this a truly enjoyable show.

I think the director may be the key difference here. I found the pacing to be off from the previous mini-series. Many times, it looked like the director said, "okay, that's good enough", and moved on to the next shot, whereas in the last series, each and every shot looked perfected. Here, I felt that several scenes could have gone on for a few more seconds instead of abruptly cutting off. 

The chief difference in this part is that we get to see how the resistance fights back. The world is already entrenched in the dominion of the Visitors. People are cooperating, others are losing their humanity. Still others are thriving. But we barely get to see those. We get to see the methods that have to be used to destroy the Visitors. Which means that the screen is filled with minutes upon minutes of machine-gun fire, laser blasts, and firefights. I don't remember any sustained firefights from the first series. It was more about the characters, and less an action flick. This was definitely an action flick. 

There was a good mood swing between each of the three parts of this series. We see relationships develop, which are then destroyed. We also see defeats at the beginning of each part turn into victories at the end. Several people find their demise in this series, which looked like it would wrap up the entire storyline until the very last minutes. 

If the Visitors seemed like Nazis in the first mini-series, they certainly took on the part in full force here. Even to the point where we had giant red flags with the Visitor crest hanging on so many walls, outside on flagpoles, and with giant red carpets on the floors. Several characters make the explicit point of mentioning the Third Reich. 

The first part starts with a terrible defeat. New security measures have been put in place, and the resistance attack on the processing plant is turned away easily. Julie and the others are frustrated. They need a big event, which turns up right on time. Maggie, a new fighter, who is becoming very close to Marc, one of the original members of the resistance, has been charged with seducing Daniel, the human leader of the Friends of the Visitors.  Daniel has gained a lot of power since taking to his oppressing job so well. There is tension between Maggie and Marc that lasts through the second part, when Marc sacrifices himself so the rest of the team can get away. Maggie does her job so well, she learns that the Visitor supreme commander John will be giving an important announcement in a Los Angeles medical center. Along with help from Martin, who doesn't allow the transmission to be cut off, Julie and Donovan expose John's reptilian face on international TV. The race to get inside the medical center pits Donovan against his mother as he steals her pass to counterfeit it. She doesn't know he's done this, but she catches him while he takes a picture of his son, which he hopes will allow Martin to find the boy, who is in freezing as food. 

Donovan sends Christine into the forbidden area. At first, she doesn't believe all of the propaganda that the resistance puts out. But when she sees the chamber of frozen bodies, she starts having serious doubts. She puts Diana in a precarious position when she is discovered. This sets the stage for some serious infighting between the Visitors, especially between Steven and Diana. 

During the broadcast of John's naked face, Christine switches sides, and Diana kills her. Steven is blamed for the lax security at the announcement, and Diana is blamed for Christine's failure. This continues throughout the series, though there was never any hint of a power struggle earlier. 

The resistance victory, however, is short-lived, as Julie is taken prisoner. Diana attempts to convert her, but halfway throughout the process, she is attacked by a member of the Visitor fifth column dressed up like Donovan. How the fifth column member agreed to do this is beyond me. It was obviously meant to trigger Diana's decision to transfer the prisoners to Earth while the ship is checked out. But the Donovan-lookalike must have known it was a suicide mission. All this to save a human? Doubtful. 

So Julie is transferred to Earth, where she is rescued by her resistance cell, including Ham Tyler, an ex-CIA agent who is coordinating a nation-wide resistance. He has some nasty bullets that cut right through the armor the Visitors wear, where normal machine gun bullets did absolutely nothing. I liked Tyler's quip that he could cut Martin in half, but Donovan says that he will get as good as he gives!  He also has some funny comments about "wasted luggage!"  He gets to know Ruby, the old woman who was neighbor to Daniel and the concentration-camp survivor Abraham. Thus we see a soft spot in Tyler, where he was always rude and hard as nails before. We loved to hate him, up to that moment. And when Daniel kills Ruby during Julie's rescue, Tyler takes it out later on the man, setting him up to become food for the Visitors. 

Though I'm not sure this would really work the way they did it. Maggie set Daniel up, having dinner with him, Bryan, and another woman. Who was the other woman? If questioned, she would be able to tell the Visitors that Daniel had not set Bryan up. If the Visitors traced the phone call, they would discover that it was made from Daniel's own house! Not very smart, for controlling the world. 

The climax of the second part of this series comes with the resistance destroying a water pumping station. A new Visitor ship had arrived, with fleet admiral Pamela aboard. She has parts and equipment and a ship ready to suck up all the water in California within a month. Why there? And why not equip the other ships with this capability? Because the resistance needs to blow something up nice, and we need a nearly half hour firefight. The plant is not rebuilt afterwards, nor is it mentioned later. So it seems that it was a symbolic victory. Couldn't the plant have been there all along, instead of just being set up? I also thought they could have done without Pamela. Her only purpose was to get Diana more and more upset until she finally kills the woman. To what point? She would have taken the reports of resistance movements seriously and deployed the troops exactly as she did anyway. 

Diana easily converts Shawn, Donovan's son, and makes an exchange: Donovan is taken into custody, while his son goes to the resistance. Diana has no use for converting Donovan, but she has developed a convenient truth drug, which she uses on him. He tells her about Martin being a fifth columnist! They spend days escaping through the ventilation shafts, and parachute down to the surface. Later, Shawn will escape the resistance and tell his grandmother, close companion to Steven, what he knows about the new superweapon. 

For the resistance gains a weapon that kills the Visitors easily, and distributes it into the air. It is discovered because of Diana's experiment with Robin Maxwell and Brian in the last series. The pregnancy has come to full term, and even an attempted abortion will not kill the fetus. Robin has twins (didn't they notice this during the attempted abortion?), one of whom is human, but who has a reptilian tongue, and the other is a completely reptilian baby. The special effects in this part were absolutely horrid! The baby looked like the puppet it was -I've seen children's dolls that could have done a much better job than this. How did it ever pass first inspection?!? However, the birth scene was pretty well done, and the shock of it was extremely nice. 

The reptilian baby dies, due to a hybrid of some cells that occur naturally in human bodies and others that occur in Visitor bodies. They realize that they have a potential weapon here...  Willie has joined the group, exposing himself so that his love, Harmony, now knows the truth. He realizes that there is something that he can do to help these kind humans. But they are not about to expose him to the red dust, because he is now their friend. So that's where Brian comes in. 

Part three of the mini-series brought the quality back up to the level of the original. The best part is where Robin brings their rapidly-growing daughter Elizabeth to see her father, Brian, in the holding cell. She pretends to be nice to him, proudly showing him their daughter, and even makes us wonder if she will let him loose, as he asks to hold her. But instead, she shoves a vial of the red dust into his cage, and watches as he dies a terrible death. Julie and the others come rushing in to see what has happened, and Julie gets into the tank, to see what effect it has on humans. As far as I'm concerned, that wasn't a very good test. All it did was show that this stuff doesn't kill us right away. Might it seep into our blood like any other slow poison? What if Julie was found dead the morning of the attack? How would they have stopped the distribution? Essentially, that is the same question Elias mentioned, regarding DDT.

I liked the way the resistance kept moving, after somebody important was captured. Wouldn't this mean that they have to move after every attack? Because there might be people who they left for dead, who were actually still alive and taken captive? In any case, their old base is attacked, but only after they decide to move because of Julie's capture. Then Donovan is taken, and they move from the Hollywood train set to a jail, where Robin gives birth. And after Robin kills Brian, the priest is afraid for the girl, and takes Elisabeth up to Diana, hoping to create peace between the two peoples. They move yet again, this time to a coastal setting with a lighthouse. Nice place. I wonder why they didn't move again after Shawn escaped them. Sure, their attack was set for the next morning, but certainly the camp could have been taken through the night?

In spite of all this, they use Shawn to their advantage. After some nasty words from Donovan to Julie when she tries to tell him that Shawn has been converted, and a big fistfight between Tyler and Donovan about developing a vaccine for Martin and the others, they take off in thousands of balloons, around the world. Diana was alerted, through Shawn's informing, that they planned to steal fighter jets, so the Visitors are confused with the sight of the balloons. The balloon launch was beautiful, and as they serenely lifted into the sky, and hung there, waiting for the time to let loose their dusty red cargo, the music was very inspirational. I remember loving that music when it first aired. It is no different now. 

Tyler and a gang of the resistance attack Visitor headquarters with the red dust, killing all the Visitors inside, including Steven, who also kills Donovan's mother. Fitting closure, if a bit obvious. Wouldn't it have been nice to see how she reacted in a world suddenly back in human control? 

As the Visitors realize that the world is suddenly become poisonous to them, they retreat, probably leaving behind valuable equipment and some of their own species in their rush. The saucer ships leave Earth... All except for Diana's ship. Diana plans to use the nuclear doomsday device built into the ship to destroy Earth. John won't have anything to do with it, and foolishly turns his back on her, so she kills him, takes his key, and starts up the device. 

The scenes as Donovan, Julie and Martin and the others try to take over the mother ship were impressive in some respects, and boring in others. We had yet more firefights, but when Caleb decides to use the red dust as a weapon, it is nice to see the reaction of the humans to the small victory. When they gain access to the bridge, I wonder why they don't kill Diana right away. That would be most logical, but of course, it would kill the chances for a TV series to follow this. 

The race to disarm the doomsday device was not very interesting. It looks hopeless, and Donovan thinks he can succeed where a Visitor couldn't! But Elisabeth takes hold of the two keys, shimmers a bit, and disarms it. Quite the powers in that little hybrid. 

The show ended quite abruptly for me. Diana escapes in a shuttle (she used the partially converted Julie to gain her escape), Martin flies the ship back into the atmosphere, and then the credits come up. How about a little aftermath? In fairness, we get to watch the news, and the bells that toll and the throngs of cheering people as the Visitor ships depart. It was really, really nice to see.

The characters are as strong as they were in the last series, and there were some really nice touches. Donovan and Julie fall in love, in a nice and realistic manner. When Mark gives his life so the team can escape the pumping station (in a pretty cool effect with disintegrator beams), we can really feel for Maggie, to whom he had proposed just before this mission (of course, that made it imperative that one of them die...). When Harmony dies in the mother ship attack, we can see the love a Visitor can really have towards a human. 

I think this part must have been less interesting because it shows people fighting back, so there were fewer deceptions, fewer machinations, and more direct fighting. My favorite part was the rescue of Julie, because it involved such manipulations to work. Also intriguing was the theft of Donovan's mother's passkey. 

As far as story goes, this one is still very impressive. Most things fit together nicely, though not as tightly as the first mini-series. The effects were in some ways superior, but in many other ways, quite inferior. But I guess they had to take some chances, and some came out better than others. The acting was very strong, but just not as sharp as I would have liked. Resistance is a fine thing to watch, but I preferred watching how the Visitors slipped under our guard and became first friends, then our leaders, and to some, our enemies. The victory was very nicely done, in the style of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and could have occurred with barely a shot fired, if it wasn't for the doomsday machine. I will still enjoy this one again, I'm sure, and I look forward to watching the couple of TV episodes that I have on tape.

 
   

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