El Cosmico here, wondering when I will next have the fortune of sleeping...a fine reader has sent in another review of the upcoming Fox series by James Cameron, starring Jessica Alba (who I like better with short hair), that's right...Dark Angel.
You know, the one you've seen about a million commercials for? Yeah. Well, here's another look at it. Thanks Darkman!
Had the luck of screening the 2 hour pilot for James Camerson's "Dark Angel" series coming to Fox this fall.
This is a high production value show, almost feature level judging from the very good quality I saw in the screening copy. The only weak point is some of the visual effects look a little tacky, which is surprising since Cameron's is such a stickler for FX. Don't know if FX were Digital Domain or not (no credits) but hopefully they'll improve as the series progresses.
Anyway, the plot is classic "pilot story" stuff. It's basically an "origins" story, telling how the main character, a genetically engineered female prototype name Max was created as a government weapons project and how her and several other children escaped (in a very nice early sequence). Now. 20ish, she makes her living in a semi post apocalyptic Seattle as a bike courier with a load of colorful "characters" as her co workers I say "semi" apocalyptic because the cities still stand but the show refers to an EMP pulse in the past that basically fried the nation's major electrical/information infrastructure so everything is sort of jury rigged together. Not as primative as mad max but we're not talking "star trek" future here.
Max is still being hunted by the government/black ops types and still looking for the other children who escaped with her. I assume this arc will be the Spine "mythology" of the series that they will return to occasionally when they aren't doing stand alone episodes (ala X Files UFO/conspiracy plot). Max "supplements" her income as a thief and during a theft, hooks up with a hacker/pirate broadcaster battling against your "standard coorporate and/or government tyranny" who will become her "partner" in the series. Not a lot really happens in the pilot as they are so busy setting up the world and characters, but it definitely has potential if they can come up with good stories for these characters and the world they've set up. The series it most resembles in tone is the old Max Headroom show. Not as much comic aspects (after all there is no wacky out of control virtual character spewing one liners) but the downtrodden world mixed with media/techno savvy is similar. Unfortuantely, like "Headroom", it may be too smart for the room, or in this case middle America.
As the main character Max, Jessica Alba is borderline. She's a stunningly attractive young woman (and rumour is was cast because she looks generically "ethnic" but not of any one recognizable minority - apparantly an important consideration for foreign sales)but her acting skills are sometimes iffy. Max is supposed to be an intelligent, street smart person but I didn't really buy the tough girl routine Alba was playing. She's no worse than Keanu Reeves (in any movie) but I was hoping for better. Being genetically engineered, she is of course way stronger/faster than humans with the action scenes playing out in an odd slo-mo-pseudo-bullet-time(I-wish-we-had-more-budget-to-really-to-do-real-bul let-time-on-a-weekly-basis)effect. It's gimmicky and it'll get tiresome after a few episodes if they fall back on it to spice the episodes up with visual "whammies".
Overall, my feelings for the show is positive despite some weaknesses in the lead performance and effects. I only hope Fox gives it a chance and doesn't pull a "harsh realm" after 2 episodes.