Artisan // 1989 // 108 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // August 22nd, 1999
The people aboard Flight 35 are about to land 1,000 years from where they planned to.
Despite a lackluster beginning, Millennium evolves itself into an extremely intelligent science fiction movie that only fails due to the complexity of its storyline. Artisan releases this DVD as we'd expect it, with a great transfer, but not much else.
Time travel is probably one of the most confusing theories ever introduced into film. If you went back in time and accidentally killed your mother, she'd never be alive to give birth to you, and therefore you never existed; so how the hell could you go back in time in the first place? Most poorly dealt with in Back to the Future, wouldn't Marty McFly's parents realize their son looks shockingly like their friend in High School? Marty McFly affects the past so much it's hard to believe that he only changes the dynamic of his family when he returns to the future.
Millennium is a film that presents a time travel theory that I can actually buy and does not contradict itself once. But, back to the beginning of the film. Millennium starts out as two jumbo jets collide in mid-air causing a large plane crash. NTSB investigator, Bill Smith (Kris Kristofferson), is called in to investigate the crash. Throughout his investigation, Smith continually runs into a beautiful blond haired woman named Louise (Cheryl Ladd). Smith decides to ask Louise out for a date, where he learns that she isn't quite normal. The following day, Smith inquires with the airline that Louise said she worked for, but the airline informs Smith that Louise has never worked for them.
That evening, while sifting through the plane wreckage, Smith discovers an odd device that he had never seen before. While playing around with the device, Smith accidentally fires the device on himself, putting him in shock. Louise, and two other women, suddenly appear in the hangar with Smith and the wreckage. Smith hardly recognizes Louise as she is dressed in futuristic apparel. Louise retrieves the device from Smith and tries to convince him that what he is seeing is a dream. Louise and the two women proceed through a huge ball of energy which teleports them to the future.
Once in the future we learn that Louise is a member of an organization that is traveling back in time in the hope of saving humanity's future. With the future Earth almost completely destroyed by man, humans have resolved to travel back in time and steal people from planes that will crash, in order to have a pool of healthy humans to send to new planets and start the human race over again. Louise soon learns that her contact with Smith in the hangar has created a paradox; a change in the past that threatens to destroy the future. In order to correct this, Louise decides to travel back in time once again, this time just before she encountered Smith in the hangar, in an attempt to prevent him from his future discovery. Things become increasingly complicated when Louise becomes romantically involved with Smith, and soon her actions threaten to destroy the future.
Artisan has done another first-rate job, this time transferring Millennium on to DVD. The video, presented at 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, is one of Artisan's nicest transfers. There are no compression artifacts, black level is dead on without any grain, flesh tones are accurate, and even bright colored futuristic scenes are handled flawlessly without any bleeding or over saturation. Millennium's audio also shines with a 2.0 Dolby Surround track. The front sound stage is well used with good dialogue placement, distinct sound effects, and a really nice musical score (compliments of Eric N. Robertson). With sequences involving airplanes, Millennium certainly could have benefited from a 5.1 track, but the 2.0 track is adequate nonetheless.
The extra content on this disc is typical of Artisan. Millennium includes a theatrical trailer, production notes, as well as cast and crew information. The box cover lists an "alternate ending" for Millennium which I cannot find as an extra, however it still might be on this disc. For some reason, I remember seeing this film 10 years ago, and the one scene I distinctly remember I did not see on this disc. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I remember an ending where Louise addresses a group of people, the next human race, a Millennium into the future (after her future). This is not the same ending that the film itself contains on this DVD, so it could be possible the alternate ending is included as the actual ending to the film on this disc. I definitely could be wrong because I can't remember a film that I saw 10 years ago that well.
For me, the beginning of this film was definitely trying. I particularly resent this because the film gets extremely good once it proceeds into its futuristic aspects; it just takes a while to get there. Based on a short story, I feel Millennium is a piece of science fiction that works much better on paper than it does on film. More abstract, especially towards the end of the film, Millennium must have been a real challenge to bring to life on the big screen. Certain aspects of the storyline work, while others do not; but as long as you keep your mind open throughout the film, you probably will come out enjoying the movie in the end.
I'd love to see more extra content coming from Artisan. If the alternate ending is actually the ending they use on the disc, Artisan should include the original ending as bonus material as well. A commentary could definitely help clear up some of the more confusing plot points in this film. Production sketches and storyboards would also be interesting to enjoy, given the elaborate futuristic costumes and sets in this film.
Sci-Fi fans will probably want to consider purchasing Millennium due to its great transfer and low $20 street price. If you find yourself interested in time travel, I'd suggest a rental to see how well this film deals with the concept. Otherwise, I don't see Millennium appealing to those who are not fans of the science fiction genre.
Film acquitted. Artisan acquitted due to low price and great transfer.
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Alternate Ending
* Theatrical Trailer
* Production Notes
* Cast and Crew Information