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Dark Angel (S1)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Dark Angel (S1) order
Director:
Various

Actors:
Jessica Alba
Michael Weatherly
John Savage

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Jessica Alba stars as Max, a genetically altered teenager living in 2019 Seattle. Following a terrorist launched magnetic pulse that has reduced the USA to a third world country, a group of kids being groomed as super soldiers escape from a secret military facility and go into hiding. Among them is Max, who gets involved with an underground activist (Weatherly) and begins fighting crime.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
By no means a show that will go down as a classic in the annals of television history, DARK ANGEL does provide some pretty darn solid entertainment and a pretty neat premise, especially if you consider that since STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, television has struggled in terms of putting on a good, futuristic sci-fi program. If you can conceive an environment similar to that of a really toned down TERMINATOR, then you can pretty much picture the setting of this series. A computer glitch has gone off that has fried all computers (take that Bill Gates!!) and granted there are no badass cyborgs looking to waste innocent girls, but the situation is pretty bad (think hip-hop Havana) and most people have taken to living underground with no records whatsoever of their existence.

As a crime-fighter, the genetically enhanced Alba gets the job done. I don't foresee an Oscar acceptance speech in her near future but one can't dispute her charm and on-screen charisma. As Max, she gets the chance to jump, kick, spin, punch, whop, sock and wallop a bunch of thugs and bad guys and does it all with a cute smirk on her face. Definitely any guy's raunchy fantasy, it's pretty easy to get used to seeing her prance around in a really tight black suit, especially when she hops on her motorcycle and breaks a hundred. She also gets to act opposite real-life fiancÚ Michael Weatherly, who stars as Logan Cale, a bored rich kid who takes to activism against the wiseguys running the town and broadcasts anonymous news reports inciting rebellion against the nasties. He's also a good fit and manages to achieve a good blend of seriousness, romance and humor. Naturally, since he also managed to get into Alba's pants-- it's hard to knock him on anything.

The rest of the cast is also well-rounded with Savage appearing as a government badass who'll stop at nothing to retrieve his experiment, a sleazy private eye trying to help Max find her kindred mutants and a bunch of oddballs who work with Max at a bike courier outfit (don't worry, the job actually fits quite well into the series). Another important aspect is the success the producers had in making the post-pulse surroundings look realistic (sci-fi guru/writer/director James Cameron is one of the executive producers of this show). It goes a long way in setting the correct ambiance for the show and even though some of the effects obviously look made-for-TV at times, you can still appreciate the underlying story behind the show with their help. Having said that, if none of the above works for you, you can always just watch the little black suit with the cute girl in it.
THE EXTRAS
Aside from a few commentary tracks on selected episodes (which you'll find below), the 6-disc set contains a few other goodies.

For starters, you get to take your pick between three featurettes:

Dark Angel: Genesis (20 minutes): This features, among others, series creators Charles H. Eglee and James Cameron discussing the...well...genesis of the idea for the series as well as some of the background to the story. A bunch of others also chime in including writers, directors and stars. I must say that it goes into a fair amount of detail and if you're a big fan of the series, then it may be quite interesting to listen to.

Seattle Ain't What it Used to Be (6 minutes): This short featurette explains some of the tricks used to turn squeaky-clean Vancouver into dirty, grimy post-cataclysm Seattle. The crew go into explanations regarding props and set tricks as well as visual and CG effects. Short and sweet.

Creating an X-5 (6 minutes): This quickie explains the origin of the X-5, the model number of the genetic experiment that results into Max. She's the fifth generation of her sort and the first to demonstrate true potential. It's a good summary of the series' premise for someone who wants to take a crash course.

Audition Tapes to Final Scenes Comparison (12 minutes): A pretty neat feature in which you get to see characters audition while the finished scene they audition to is played in a small picture in the corner of the screen. Many of the main cast members appear here and while Jessica Alba appears opposite them in their auditions-- her own isn't part of the package.

Bloopers (6 minutes): No surprises here as you get to see footage of what is mainly flubbed lines or people cracking up on set. Nobody gets hurt, nobody bleeds and the kids all keep it clean...except for that one quickie when Jessica accidentally sets fire to herself.

"James Cameron's Dark Angel" Video Game Preview: Pretty self-explanatory, wouldn't you say? I don't know enough about video games to tell you whether or not it looks good though. Sorry.

(1): Commentary by co-creator and writer Charles Eglee & director David Nutter (2): Commentary by co-creator and writer Charles Eglee and writer RenÚ Echevarria (3): Commentary by co-creator and writer Charles Eglee, writer RenÚ Echevarria, and director Charles Woolnaugh (4): Commentary by stars Michael Weatherly and Jessica Alba
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
As with any TV show box set, this is exclusive to hardcore fans who want to get their high, so chances are your that decision's already been made. For those who don't know it, it might be worth picking up if you can rent or borrow it first. The DVD extras are neat enough to sustain you for about an hour so it's not like if it was a barebones package. Good stuff all around.
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