Written By: Randall M. Badat and Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed By: Stuart Gilliard
Staring: Tahmoh Penikett, Laura Vandervoort, Mark Deklin, Peter Wingfield, Jeananne Goossen, Alan Cummings, and Matthew MacCaull
SyFy’s newest party involves a world about Rivers. I have not read the novels so am in no way attached to the original material influencing the story, but from what I understand it was a huge stretch from not only the storyline and plot points, but the characters themselves and who were the villains and who the heroes were, the love stories etc. Huge creative leaps, bounds, and interpretations have taken place, and the final result was an entertaining if not melodramatic tale of science fiction and fantasy.
Strangely enough this film was the second attempt for SyFy to perfect this film, and still I think they came up short. Unless you are Peter Jackson some books are meant to be translated into film, and even he couldn’t make The Lovely Bones perfect. The material was given in a way that felt like tons of information was just smashed together along with an overflow of characters that were never really explored beyond a superficial level. SyFy was successful in developing characters in stories already created from a new perspective with both Alice and Tinman, so it’s not as though it can’t be done. Just in this case it wasn’t done well.
The cast seemed reasonably picked, and did the best they could with mediocre dialogue, but a lot of times you could feel how awkward it was for them to speak words that had no real foundation behind them. A lot of times in movies like this they use their characters as a vessel to explain the story, but so much of Riverworld was spent with the mystery of not understanding it that it really wasn’t an excuse. Tahmoh Penikett and the love story didn’t really work for me, but I enjoyed his character enough,(or perhaps just him as an actor as I loved him on BSG and Dollhouse) to toil threw some of the nonsense. I was glad for it because in spite of some of the crap, the less than thought out character depictions, and forced array of events, it still had some validity in the entertainment department.
Riverworld was not even in the same category of Alice and Tinman for me, and shined most in it’s first part, where things went…ah….downriver after that. I think this would have worked much better as a full series instead of a two part original flick. There were too many characters, too much information, and too much world to discover to limit itself by two movies. Though Tahmoh Penikett still rules, this was only an ok measure of my time. Hopefully SyFy does better with it’s next one.
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