Besides 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 missed here.
“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 really begins…
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…?
Richard T. Heffron (director)
CAST: Jane Badler …. Diana
Michael Durrell …. Robert Maxwell
Robert Englund …. Willie
Faye Grant …. Juliet Parish
Michael Ironside …. Ham Tyler
Marc Singer …. Mike Donovan