Judge John Floyd thought the millennium crisis was just a hoax, designed to get people to buy useless software.
"At the edge of the universe, she will become the ultimate weapon!"
The keys to enjoyable low-budget sci-fi are ambition and pacing. This film gets it half right.
Facts of the Case
In Millennium Crisis, beautiful young Aurora (Clare Stevenson) becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to spark an armed conflict between Terra and Andromeda. Only by mastering the strange, chameleon-like powers she possesses will she be able to thwart the megalomaniacal Harkness before he plunges the galaxy into total war.
Initially, Millennium Crisis reminded me a bit of classic Doctor Who. Obviously constrained by a miniscule budget, the creators of this film were not deterred from making optimal use of their minimal resources to tell a tale that is genuinely epic in scale. With thrifty CG tricks and inventive production design, they very nearly overcome their financial limitations to create a believable (if threadbare) cosmic setting. Sadly, their admirable efforts are undermined by poor execution of nearly every other aspect of the production.
This film aspires to be thoughtful, intelligent science fiction, a goal that can easily result in an overly convoluted and confusing plot. Millennium Crisis falls headfirst into that trap, spending a good portion of its 86-minute running time doling out chunks of exposition about Lazerenes and Kluduthus and Bloodmasks, etc., etc., and frequently not making much sense. It also commits a mistake common in contemporary fantasy film and fiction, giving its central characters pretentious-sounding names like "Lucretia" and "Harkness." Instead of lending the narrative the intended dramatic flair, monikers like these force the viewer to wonder if we are doomed to a future run by historical romance novelists and anime geeks.
The acting is about what one would expect from such a production. Though Stevenson and top-billed Ted Raimi (who has little more than a glorified cameo) are not bad, the rest of the performances range from hopelessly overwrought to just plain flat. In fairness, delivering even the best sci-fi dialogue with credibility can be tricky, and this script is loaded with clunky monologues and melodramatic exchanges. Still, space opera necessitates that an actor believe what he or she is saying if they are to convince the audience, and too often here one gets the sense that the players aren't buying it either.
With a plot that borrows heavily from Star Wars and The Fifth Element, the viewer might expect to see a lot of action. Unfortunately, everyone is too busy talking to do much fighting, and the few physical confrontations that do occur are brief, and for the most part, poorly staged. No amount of ambition can compensate for slow-pacing or the lack of a satisfying payoff.
The extras aren't bad on this release, although a couple of the previews in the Trailer Vault are for Misty Mundae sex flicks and don't really seem to fit with this film. The Visual Effects "documentary" (really just raw footage, with commentary by Effects Director Henry Steady) is brief but informative, and the interview segments with the likable Raimi and Stevenson in the "Stars of Millennium Crisis" featurette are quite enjoyable. One puzzling aspect of the disc is the absence of a Chapter Select option. Perhaps the folks at Shock-O-Rama realized that viewers were less likely to sit through the entire tedious film if they could just skip ahead to the best parts when they'd had enough of all the expository chatter.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's clear that Director Andrew Bellware and company (unlike many low-budget, direct-to-video filmmakers) were sincerely attempting to make a good film here. There are a few fun moments along the way, including a clunky robot attack and a clever bit about "airport" security in the future. At the very least, Stevenson is quite eye-catching in her red wig and form-fitting, maroon catsuit.
Millennium Crisis is a noble attempt at quality science fiction entertainment, undone by inadequate writing and unconvincing performances. With a little less conversation and a little more action, it might have been a fun ride. Instead, it feels like a very slow trip to a dead moon.
The court would like to show leniency to the filmmakers for their earnest efforts, but the law is the law. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
• Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Bellware & Producer Laura Schlachtmeyer
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