Set in 4039, in the wake of the last great neutron war, THE TIME GUARDIAN concerns the earth's last remaining city. Outfitted for time travel, the city jumps from eon to eon in an attempt to escape the Jen-Diki, a once-human race of evil cyborgs who seek to wipe out mankind. When the
Jen-Diki penetrate the city's defenses during one especially brutal battle, a portion of the city must be blown up to repel the invaders. As the crippled city careens through time, its leaders dispatch Ballard (Tom Burlinson), a military man, and Petra (Carrie Fisher), a historian, to the
Australian outback circa 1988, to ready a site for the city's imminent repair stop. The two materialize safely down under, but the Jen-Diki have traced their route and open up a time portal of their own. Fortunately, the Jen-Diki are thwarted when a 20th-century truck smashes into a cyborg's
downlink terminal (unwisely placed in the middle of a highway). Ballard finds an ally in Annie Lassiter (Nikki Coghill), the area's resident sexy geologist, but she and the time travelers are thrown in jail by corrupt local lawmen. By fiddling with Ballard's bracelet, the sheriff unwittingly gives
the Jen-Diki a new fix on Ballard and Petra's location, prompting the appearance of a whole army of Jen-Diki enforcers just as Ballard busts out of jail. Fortunately, the city also picks this moment to materialize, and a showdown ensues. The Jen-Diki appear to be winning; then Ballard gets an
idea. Stepping into the mighty control room of the city, he emerges with what looks like a giant glowing crayon, which he uses to zap the dreaded Jen-Diki.
Visually lavish but otherwise lackluster, THE TIME GUARDIAN was partly written by John Baxter, an Australian science-fiction writer. Not surprisingly, the film is a pastiche of various sci-fi elements, and the real fun comes from identifying the source material. The domed, nomadic metropolis is
straight out of James Blish's "Cities in Flight" novels, while the Jen-Diki (resembling armored samurai soldiers) are a variant of the Cybermen fought by TV time-traveler Doctor Who. It's even suggested that Ballard is a grown-up version of the feral child from THE ROAD WARRIOR, which
director-cowriter Brian Hannant helped script.
In THE TIME GUARDIAN, Hannant demonstrates a talent for arresting special effects; however, his inattentiveness to story details mars the film. Viewers are expected to believe that the city-dwellers have no idea what the Jen-Diki are or why they're so nasty; that is, until the extremely clever
Ballard thinks to do an autopsy on one of the baddies. What's more, Ballard's mission to the 20th century is just this side of pointless: all he has to do to ready a repair site for the city is create a mound of dirt on which it can land--roughly the equivalent of setting up cinderblocks in the
garage. Fisher's Petra, made out to be the city's foremost authority on 20th-century customs, is given virtually nothing to do but camp by a billabong and die heroically. Coghill, the film's romantic interest, plays the kind of unbelievable character who exists only in science-fiction B movies--an
aggressive woman scientist who walks around scantily clad despite ever-present danger from deadly androids and threatening humans. The subplot about the backwater Aussie town and its bullying cops is less than enthralling; more intriguing (and barely explored) is the notion that the local
aborigines have had contact with the city since ancient times.
Reportedly, THE TIME GUARDIAN experienced much post-production tinkering, with additional scenes hastily shot under the direction of editor Andrew Prowse. This might explain the narrative's choppiness. In any case, this picture is only a minor morsel for genre fans. (Violence, profanity, nudity,sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1987
- Rating: PG
- Review: Set in 4039, in the wake of the last great neutron war, THE TIME GUARDIAN concerns the earth's last remaining city. Outfitted for time travel, the city jumps from eon to eon in an attempt to escape the Jen-Diki, a once-human race of evil cyborgs who seek t… (more)