“Riverworld” Review

Riverworld: Directed by Kari Skogland. With Brad Johnson, Karen Holness, Emily Lloyd, Jeremy Birchall. Hale, an American astronaut dies and is reincarnated with other persons who have lived throughout all of human history and end up on a mysterious planet called ‘Riverworld’. The humans are left to their own devices and create tribal fiefdoms and succumb to brutal wars and raids. A mysterious race of hooded ‘beings’ oversee them – sometimes intervening, but their motives are unknown. Anyone who has ever lived and died on Earth comes here rather than ‘the afterlife’, even an extra-terrestrial call Monat, who had the unfortunate luck of dying on Planet earth in 2039. Hale leads a revolt and joins with others on a large boat to explore this mysterious new world.

It’s SyFy back when it was SciFi, which is after it was The Science Fiction Channel! This is an adaption of a book series, and it caught my attention because it was amazon at one point, but then was removed, and now it’s on IMDB-TV, which is a ad supported streaming service owned by Amazon. Note this is different from Amazon prime and having Prime gives you absolutely no benefits with IMDB-TV, you’ll have to sit through two minute ads every 15 minutes, just like all the other unwashed masses. What kills me about this is that the movie was made for TV and has obvious ad spots but IMDB TV isn’t using them, so they’ll jump to commercial in the middle of a scene, jump back to the movie, then a minute later the movie drifts to black in an obvious moment for ads, but no ads are shown there.

This is a rough adaptation, with made for TV special effects, a made for TV budget and a made for TV cast. The main character (Brad Johnson) gives me strong Bruce Campbell vibes, with a dash of Eddie McClintock vibes, but with an extra dash of hopefulness and goodness in his heart. The story follows his awakening in ‘Riverworld’ which seems to be an alien generated afterlife with people from every time period of humanity’s history being lumped in together, just to see what will happen. For the most part it works, but it does seem to be a “man out of time” story that was super popular in science fiction at one time, and authors still try to get back to those good ol’ days of Yankees time traveling, or civil war soldiers going to Mars. I should say that this was apparently supposed to be a series, but they only filmed this one pilot episode, then released it as a stand alone movie when the decision was made to not pick it up as a full season, and the ending makes it clear this was just the start of the story.

Now I need to find the 4 hour movie they did just six years later.

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