esides being a sequel to the immensely popular (back in
1983, that is) mini series "V",
and being blessed with an extra hour and a half of running time over the
original (sans commercials), "V: The Final Battle" went to air without
its mastermind, Kenneth Johnson, much to its detriment. While Johnson had a hand
in "overseeing" the writing of the screenplay, his presence is sorely
"V: The Final Battle" opens where the original
left off, with resistance fighters Juliet Parrish (Faye Grant) and Mike Donovan
(Marc Singer) leading a band of underground humans in an attempt to discredit
and reveal the alien Visitors for the hostile reptiles that they are. But things
aren't going smoothly, and the small band of fighters need one big hit to prove
to the world that the Visitors are not who they appear to be. They get their
chance at a VIP banquet, where John, the Visitor's Supreme Commander, will be in
attendance. Once John's' real face is exposed on live international TV, human
cells begin to appear all around the world, and the final battle for Earth
Unlike it's predecessor, "V: The Final Battle"
devotes much of its time to battle scenes and action, which gives it a very
distinctive counter balance to the cerebral vibe of Kenneth Johnson's screenplay
for "V". Creators
of the sequel also benefits from not having to set up any of the premise because
the mini series came out only a year after the original mini series. This allows
them to jump immediately into the fray feet first, and the mini series' second
sequence is a battle at a Visitor processing plant. What's being processed
there, you ask? Why, humans, of course!
The sequel also introduces a romance for heroes Donovan and
Juliet, as the two find physical and emotional support in the midst of the
fighting. As in the original, both Singer and Grant handle their respective
roles well since by now they're on first name basis with their characters. With
Johnson having established the two's personality and strengths and weakness in
the original, the writers for the sequel and director Richard Heffron simply
leads the two main characters into each other's arms. It's appropriate and
nicely acted by the two leads.
But despite better effects (at least in comparison to the
original) the sequel is a little disappointing in many other respects. The
battle sequences are sometimes good, but most of the time they seem to go on
forever and there are just so many that the whole guns versus lasers back and
forth gets, well, dull. Some sequences are also badly done and look amateurish.
This is the problem with packing so much action into your movie. Too much action
that isn't executed correctly leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
The sequel does get a much-needed jumpstart when a
mercenary name Ham Tyler joins the fray along with his own private (and very
well-armed) army of mercs. Michael Ironside plays the tough-as-nails Tyler, a
man who takes no prisoners and makes very few friends unless he absolutely has
to. Ironside adds much-needed charisma to the sequel and prevents it from being
completely one-dimensional. His interaction with Donovan is also a riot, and the
two men's rapport is good.
Does the sequel live up to the original? Yes and no. The
high emphasis on action really amps up the series to another level, but
emotionally the series take a slight dive. While romance between Donovan and
Juliet is welcome, the sequel just doesn't seem to have much to say, whereas
Kenneth Johnson's screenplay for "V"
was all about cramming as much substance and history into the frame as possible.
In those respects, the filmmakers for "V: The Final Battle" falters a
bit, especially its introduction of a "star child" with superpowers.
Huh? Precisely. Despite the film's premise of aliens from another world, a child
with superpowers is just…a little too much.
Regardless, "V: The Final Battle" faithfully
follows up on the original and delivers what we expect – an all-out battle
between humans versus the Visitors. There are twists and turns, and the
characters act like how we remember them. Juliet is still unsure of her post as
resistance leader and Donovan is still persistent about rescuing his son above
all else, even at the cost of the resistance movement.
"V: The Final Battle" is, to be sure, not all
that it could have been, and it's missing much of Kenneth Johnson's personable
and insightful writing about the human condition. All that said, it's still a
good enough sequel, since as the saying goes, "The sequel is never as good
as the original."
Although I have to ask again: what is the deal with the
star child, and who exactly thought that was a good idea…?