They will go looking for a more known name? Screw that! I want to see Ben in this movie. It's a love story. So maybe shirtless Ben. Woot!
Now onto the Reviews
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars SFX Review
Written by Rockne S O’Bannon & David Kemper
Directed by Brian Henson
John Crichton – Ben Browder
Aeryn Sun – Claudia Black
D’Argo – Anthony Simcoe
Chiana – Gigi Edgeley
Scorpius – Wayne Pygram
Sikozu – Raelee Hill
Noranti – Melissa Jaffer
Stark – Paul Goddard
Jool – Tammy MacIntosh
Braca – David Franklin
Grayza – Rebecca Rigs
Staleek – Duncan Young
Ahkna – Fransesca Buller
Grunchlik – Hugh Keays-Byrne
Voice of Rygel – Jonathan Hardy
Voice of Pilot – Lani Tupu
Voice of the Diagnosian – Fiona Gentle
Voice of Bishian – Lee Perry
Muoma – Sandy Gore
Yondaloo – Ron Haddrick
Maryk – Linal Haft
Jothee – Nathaniel Dean
Einstein – John Bach
Pikal – Stephen James King
Caa’ta Tim McCunn
Sgt Learko/Lt Jatos – John Adam
Peacekeeper Captain – Kim De Lury
Scarran Doctor – Judi Farr
Right, this is not your average Spoiler Zone review, as, basically we’re going to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. (Actually, it’s impossible to be completely spoiler-free depending on your definition of a spoiler; some people would consider the cast list a spoiler – “Gadzooks, learning there’s a character called Caa’ta has completely ruined my viewing experience!” We once even had complaints about giving away episode titles.)
There is a reason for our sudden bout of conscience; we were given a special preview copy by the US SCI FI Channel on the understanding that we wouldn’t give away any spoilers. Now, we could go down a “publish it and be damned” route, but with the US SCI FI going great guns at the moment, we’d be fools to get on their bad side. And the reason we’re doing a spoiler-free review in the Spoiler Zone? Simple. The DVD came so late in our schedule there was no other place to put the damned thing. And, to be honest, we loved it so much, we couldn’t resist the temptation to tell you as soon as possible that The Peacekeeper Wars is BLOODY BRILLIANT.
Well, with a few provisos. A lot of provisos, actually. However, when you see the last 15 minutes, you’ll be prepared to forgive it – nearly – everything. If there’s never any more Farscape, then at least it will have gone out in style.
But, there are problems along the way to that climax. The most worrying is that, despite director Brian Henson and writers Rockne S O’Bannon and David Kemper’s claims to the contrary in various interviews lately, The Peacekeeper Wars is not Farscape-virgin-friendly. There are a few attempts to provide new-comers with the salient on-going plot points, but Farscape has become so complex over the past four years they’ll probably make as much sense as a plate of alphabetti spaghetti to the uninitiated. The show also retains it’s habit of divulging crucial, important, pivotal plot points during moments of hysteria or crisis, which doesn’t help ease in the newbies.
Nope, this is not a mini-series for the casual SF viewer; this is a loving present to Farscape fans, in snazzy holographic gift wrap and tied with a bow. They’re going to lap it up. It crosses the t’s and dots the i’s in the series, and allows many of the central characters a sense of dramatically satisfying – if not always happy ever after – closure. The only fans who may be left disappointed are Noranti-philes. All three of them. On the other hand, there are a few surprise faces from the past – some easily guessable, some rather more obscure – and they’re not just there for a nostalgia fest; they all have a function within the plot mechanics.
On the downside, Part One (the mini-series is two 90 minute episodes) is rather rambling, has a few too many handy coincidences and contains two moments of pseudo-science so cheesy you’ll need a disbelief bypass operation to stomach them. The Farscape production crew have always argued that Farscape science needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, but occasionally, as in the two instances here, they simply stray too far into the realms of extreme silliness. Again, this can alienate casual viewers, reinforcing the idea that the show is somehow juvenile, or not “serious”.
On the other hand, newbies watching Part One, might think they are, in fact, watching a comedy at times. The script is so achingly funny in places, it makes a Red Dwarf movie seem totally redundant. Rygel and Crichton whip crack their one liners with relish, while even Aeryn gets to “make a funny” (to Crichton’s bemusement). The plot may be a little creaky in places, but the sheer strength of these characters and the witty script keep Part One thoroughly watchable. Some stunning FX work doesn’t do any harm, either.
But if it’s stunning FX you’re after, then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Part Two is a visual feast, from explosive opening to apocalyptic climax. The scrip remains sharp and witty, but silliness takes a back street and the drama is ramped up to a nerve-wracking point. Part One may not match some of the show’s earlier high points, but Part Two sets a whole new high. This is cracking stuff. Sure, there are a couple of plot illogicalities, and a few moments of slightly too cheesy melodrama, but they’re buried in landslide of wholesome goodness, and topped off with one of the most spectacular scenes ever seen on small screen SF, a giddying mix of high emotion, hysteria, destruction, tension, and sacrifice. It looks pretty bloody good as well, did I mention that?
Kudos to Brian Henson as well. He’s not the flashiest of directors, but he does know how to shoot an action sequence. Too often on TV these days (and our beloved Angel was guilty as sin) fight scenes were rendered near incomprehensible by whiplash camerawork and staccato editing. The fight scenes in The Peacekeeper Wars have a pleasing clarity, without suffering any loss of excitement or frenetic oomph. There’s a particularly good scrap involving Chiana and Sikozu that’s worth looking out for; they’ve both just moved a few places up the kick-ass angel league table.
Throughout, Ben Browder and Claudia Black are nothing short of magnificent. If it was ever in doubt, there’s no question now that these two are among the best series leads ever in science fiction: charismatic, passionate and totally convincing. And they both looked good in leather (I’m reliably informed there are also some great Crichton arse shots…).
So, will there be more Farscape? Well it’s hard to imagine this mini-series creating many converts, but some may be impressed enough by the action and FX to stay the distance. But will they be enough to garner ratings impressive enough for SCI FI to commission more? Doubtful. In which case, The Peacekeeper Wars is a fitting end to an incredible series. Not only does it wrap up a lot of loose ends, it also stayed uncompromising to the end. You could argue that for Farscape to become popular and accessible, it would have had to make too many concessions. Better, surely, that it should bloody-mindedly stick to it’s guns and remain as confusingly hectic as ever.
But if I’m wrong, and the mini-series is a rip-roaring success, there are a few people on the planet who would be any happier.
Come on Beeb, snap this one up for us soon… Oh sod waiting for that to happen. Roll on the DVD!
Transcribed by freebd99 on Kansas.