HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Friday, April 11, 2014

95ERS: TIME RUNNERS -- DVD review by porfle

The chintzy cover art and awkward title led me to think this was going to be a SyFy-type movie, but 95ERS: TIME RUNNERS, aka "95ers: Echoes" (2013) is way too good to be mistaken for such piffle.  In fact, this densely plotted and visually stimulating adventure is so sharply made that it kept me keenly interested even when I wasn't sure what the hell was going on.

A surehanded directorial debut by Thomas Gomez Durham, it's the story of a beautiful FBI agent named Sally Biggs (the director's wife,  Alesandra Durham) who has the ability to turn back time for nine seconds whenever she wants to.  This means that she never drops a dish, always wins at guessing games, and makes every shot in pool, since she has the luxury of unlimited second chances.

Why she's like this and how it affects the time-space continuum in general is just, as one character puts it, the tip of the tip of an iceberg which also involves the strange disappearance of her scientist husband Horatio Astaire Biggs (Joel Bishop, SAINTS AND SOLDIERS), who was doing advanced time travel research, and a larger storyline in which future time travelers escaping from a devastating, ongoing war have been causing multiple timeline distortions with catastrophic results.

Believe me, there's too much to all  this to try and encapsulate here, especially since Thomas Durham and his co-writer brother James have conceived a vast "95ers" backstory which they hope to parlay into a multimedia franchise.  Only time will tell, as it were, whether or not this will extend beyond the current film, which had a gestation period of at least five years. 

In its own way, the "95ers" saga is just as scintillating as the original MATRIX (with the potential for more substantial sequels).  It's the kind of time travel story that goes way beyond  simply jumping from one date to another, exploring all the ramifications of how messing around with timelines can disrupt both individual lives and the fate of humankind itself. 

Agent Sally Biggs finds this out for herself when faced with an opportunity to erase her marriage and current pregnancy due to second thoughts about her relationship with her missing husband.  She's unexpectedly given this chance to change things by her mysterious boss, Hamilcar Grandon (Terence Goodman), whose motives we're never quite sure of. 

Grandon, who knows much more than he's telling about Horatio's disappearance and time travel in general, is aware of Sally's time-rewind abilities and is able to thwart them in creative ways--some of the film's most exciting scenes involve the two of them battling for control of the situation at hand.

Meanwhile, Sally must also deal with ghostly visions of Horatio--which may be echoes of other timelines--and attacks from unknown assailants from the future.  Her investigations into seemingly paranormal occurrences (one might call them "X-files") may be the key to solving the mystery. 

At any rate, we're thrust right into the middle of the Durham brothers' grand "95ers" universe without any explanation and expected to just hold on tight and figure it out as we go along.  Which I managed to do, while enjoying myself very much along the way.  The film is deftly directed and consistently engaging even when nothing's going on besides Horatio's voiceover accompanying a montage of images from his diary as Sally pores over it. 

The action scenes are especially fun when Sally's time-rewind power is put to use fine-tuning things until she manages to extricate herself from her current peril.  Her personal life also yields the film's more sentimental moments as she agonizes over whether or not to change her own timeline and nullify her marriage.  A theater group led by her sister-in-law (Anne Sward, who played Lyla Montgomery on "As the World Turns" back in the 80s) influences her decision by rehearsing Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in her home, causing her to ruminate upon past,  present, and future.

Alesandra Durham is a dynamic and charismatic lead, with able support by the rest of the cast.  Some scenes involving extreme emoting are handled rather awkwardly, but these instances are rare.

SPFX and the overall look of the film are very well done for such a relatively modest production.  James Durham supplies a lush musical score that also includes several songs and some library tracks.  A quick glance at the credits finds them full of Durhams and other names, with various people doing double-duty or more. 

The DVD from Inception Media Group is in 16 x 9 (1.78:1) widescreen with 5.1 digital surround sound and subtitles in English.  Extras include a homey commentary track with Tom and Ali Durham, deleted and extended scenes, and trailers for this and other Inception releases.

After such low expectations,  I was delighted to find 95ERS: TIME RUNNERS to be so well and fully realized, in addition to being a stimulating and invigorating sci-fi fun ride filled with timelines in flux, tipping points, convergences, and all that other good stuff. Now if only the Durhams had access to the budgets that were squandered on the conceptually-challenged MATRIX sequels...

Official site
Buy the DVD


No comments: