Prolific B-movie producer Charles Band was one of the first movie moguls to focus on the straight-to-video marketplace for feature films back in the 1970s, and so deserves some consolation credit for at least trying to do something different with the field in his JOSH KIRBY...TIME WARRIOR!
series. Six interlinked direct-to-tape movies, aimed at youngsters, released from 1995-96, JOSH KIRBY was supposed to revise the cliffhanger serials of yesteryear. The series ends up being a clunky reinvention of the TV show (the medium which, after all, made film serials obsolete), complete with
highlights-from-today's-episode teasers that give away most of the plot in advance.
Josh Kirby (Corbin Allred) is a pleasant-but-nondescript teen living in generic Green Oaks and coping with both bully and girl trouble in high school. But in the year 2420, an alien artifact called the Nullifier, said to be capable of destroying everything everywhere, is transported across
hyper-time to keep it from a certain Dr. Zoetrope (Derek Webster). Zoetrope, encased in "time armor," chases after the six pieces of the Nullifier, while sage Irwin 1138 (Barrie Ingham) pursues Zoetrope in a more conventional space/timeship. Their race down timelines wreaks chaos throughout
history, and Josh Kirby accidentally beams into Irwin's craft during a 20th-century stopover. They crash in 1205 A.D., where Zoetrope is court wizard to medieval tyrant William of Dearborn (John DeMita). Josh and Irwin side with oppressed peasants and William's deposed brother Lord Henry (Spencer
Rochfort). The "Dino-Knights" are William and Lord Henry, because each eventually mounts rival "dragons," dinosaurs brought to feudal England by all the time-scrambling. William has a tyrannosaurus rex, while Josh and Irwin help Henry tame a triceratops.
Josh eventually encounters Azabeth Siege (Jennifer Burns) a half-alien warrior girl from another age. In cliffhanger tradition, the picture ends with Azabeth sentenced to execution--though preview scenes from the followup JOSH KIRBY...TIME WARRIOR!: THE HUMAN PETS pretty much ruin any potential
What Charles Band apparently forgets is that classic, action-packed serial segments lasted, on the average, 15 minutes to a half hour. As the kickoff "Josh Kirby" chapter, PLANET OF THE DINO-KNIGHTS may be granted some indulgence, but the subsequent sequels continued to pointlessly pad their
length to the extent that even the most exciting sequences felt infinitely more boring than even the slowest interludes in any of the Indiana Jones epics (the truest contemporary revival of the serial's art).
With considerable trimming this might have been a zippy short feature. Feeble stop-action animation effects are present in the dinsosaur sequences, but overall the production design is imaginative, especially Zoetrope's crimson battle-suit. At the other end of the special-effects spectrum is
"Prism," an asinine, stiff puppet-like creature brought along to sniff out bits of the Nullifier, who regularly betrays the heroes to further extend the plot. Like many Band productions, the JOSH KIRBY series was shot cheaply in Romania.(Violence.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: PG
- Review: Prolific B-movie producer Charles Band was one of the first movie moguls to focus on the straight-to-video marketplace for feature films back in the 1970s, and so deserves some consolation credit for at least trying to do something different with the field… (more)