V: The Final Battle (1984)
Director: Richard T. Heffron
Continuing where the 1983 mini-series left off, "V: The Final Battle" finds our human resistance fighters in the middle of an all-out war against the invading aliens. These fascist, man-eating lizards are draining our planet dry hombres and the time has come to turn them into fashionable belts! V for VICTORY a-holes! VICTORY I SAID! ATTACK!!!!!!
I was a huge "V" whore when it first popped up on TV. I followed the original mini-series, The Final Battle and the TV series religiously. I can’t count how many times I dreamt of being part of the rebels by taking Donavan’s (Singer) place. I wanted his coat and Julie’s ass yo! I also had WAY too many fantasies about luscious Diana (Badler) doing a number on me with whips, chains and chocolate syrup. Yes, V was a huge part of my wasted youth and it felt fresh to re-visit that world again.
Where the original mini-series was a well done analogy to the Nazi invasion, this mini-series takes a more “Space Opera” and “shoot 'em up” path. Don’t get me wrong, we still get the whole “Nazi” parallels: the uniforms, the alien symbol (that looks like a swastika) or the human “food” processing camps which echo the gas chambers used by the Nazis. But the more Nazi-inspired substance that the first mini-series sported is definitely not as prominent in this one’s storyline.
A note on the human processing camps: They gave me the freaking heebie-jeebies! Seeing humans being brought in like cattle to then be turned into “TV Dinners” really unsettled me. I could never get over the fact that these beings wanted to eat us! Brrrr! End of note.
"The Final Battle" does give us lots of bang for our bucks though; it’s driven by enthralling action as our rebel friends go from location to location attempting to foil the evil aliens’ plans. And when the pleasant physical happenings weren’t keeping me glued to my sofa, the powerful drama most certainly was. Mucho double crossings went down in this petting zoo, spies got pinched, rebels had secret meetings and went undercover (prompting gripping conflicts), the Alien allies got into the mix more (they’re called The 5th Column) and lead characters died while a-hole regulars got their "just desserts" in spine-chilling ways (Take that Daniel! You fucker!). The series also showcased a witty and sometimes dark sense of humor and even addressed themes that are very relevant today like biological warfare and religion (Diana is NOT hip to The Bible).
Now this Iguana does have its faults. There are some minor plot holes here and there (like how the guards decided NOT to wear their bullet poof vests at a high security event) but they never really hindered my viewing pleasure. What I didn’t particularly care for was the “abortion” message the film briefly put out. It sounded like a paid advertisement. I almost expected Donovan to stand up on a soap box when he claimed “it’s her body, it’s her choice”. I also didn’t go nuts for the “Julie” brainwash sequences. I mean, it took seconds to mind-fuck a high brow journalist, but for some reason it took 2 hardcore sittings to half-ass brainwash “Einstein” Julie. Is she that freaking smart? Those scenes felt like fillers to me and only brought redundancy and a lizard sock puppet to the game. Lastly, although I did groove on the whole cross breed pregnancy subplot that eventually lead up to the “Star Childs” birth (the birth sequence still kicks ass), I did almost puke at the tacky way they used the kid for the finale. Come on, Mr. Screenwriter! You could’ve thought of a less corny way to end it!
But "V: The Final Battle" was still an “Arrow Approved” ride throughout. Some of its weaker aspects actually made the whole more endearing. I laughed so hard at how Donavan kept posing like a “male model” every time he stepped onscreen, I relished the many times where Martin (the Alien ally) would initially always tell Donovan that he couldn’t help out, to then always have Donovan persuade him otherwise (hilarious!), and also dug the impressive to cheapo visual effects which never failed to charm either way, as well as the re-use of the same “shuttle” footage. This series just couldn’t lose, when it was on top of its game, it whooped my ass with a shovel and when the lack of budget showed onscreen, it was still a hoot in a B-movie kind of way. Long live V! Want to snack on a parrot?
It's all about human masks/skin being peeled off to reveal lizard attributes, birds/mice being eaten alive and a Muppet alien baby. The lesser visual effects never ruined my enjoyment, although that “force perspective” lizard was a tad too much. Easy guys…
The cast is huge here and I can’t cover everybody. So for those actors I don’t mention..props to you too! You all did a bang-on job!
Marc Singer (Mike) is like a cross between Kevin Bacon and Mark Hamill. He’s a tad hammy but his macho posturing and constant posing always put a smile on my stupid face. He’s "all good" in my book. Faye Grant (Julie) hits all the right notes as the vulnerable leader. She’s got a sweet ass too! Jane Badler (Diana) is deliciously evil as the Alien temptress, I devoured every second that she was onscreen. Michael Ironside (Ham) is at his tough guy best here. Nobody plays rough and tumble better than Ironside. Robert Englund (Willie) plays the “nice”, lousy schooled in English lizard very well. This guy is Freddy Krueger!!!! Andrew Pine (Steven) has this thing about him where he doesn’t look or feel threatening and that makes him that much scarier. I adored the dude!
T & A
We get Faye Grant in a skin tight bodysuit and Jane Badler always looking yummy in her domineering kind of way. The ladies get buff Marc Singer going shirtless.
Heffron effortlessly kept the pace of the mini-series moving at light speed, did a wonderful job at orchestrating and shooting the action sequences and although I didn’t care too much for the “Julie” brainwash scenes, he handled the dream sequences like a champ, slapping in some kool slow motion and lots of “Alien” like atmosphere. The directing is competent.
The spooky opening credits score rocks! What an eerie tune! The score for the softer moments is cheesy in a “jazz” kind of way and there’s also a ditty that sounded a lot like the “Star Trek" theme.
Distributor: Warner Brothers
IMAGE: The widescreen (1.85:1) image does the series justice and only displays grain on minor occasions.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono was better than I expected. The score and the many sounds (all about the lasers) never resonated better!
Extras would’ve been nice but hey...it’s "V: The Final Battle" on DVD, which alone is worth the purchase!
"V: The Final Battle" still holds up like Hefner on a hefty dose of Viagra today and every horror/sci-fi buff should give it a shot. The whole Nazi Germany-like imagery is striking, the set/prop designs are gnarly (loved the Phasers) and the action is highly entertaining. "V" has awesome good guys (GO HAM, GO!), "V" has unforgettable villains (DIANA! EAT ME NOW!), "V" is disturbing, "V" is scary, "V" is funny, "V" is thought-provoking, "V" is classic. Get the original mini-series and watch it back to back with this one, than thank me in the morning with a bottle of Jack and your sister’s friends (I couldn’t ask for your sister; that would just be plain rude).
This mini-series was followed by "V: The Series" which had a 19-episode run until the TV show was cancelled due to tumbling ratings.
“V” was the brainchild of Kenneth Johnson, who wrote and directed the original mini-series. Johnson supervised the writing of the “Final Battle” script, but left the project shortly thereafter.
Kenneth Johnson on V: The Final Battle: In the original script, Elizabeth the "Star Child" did not exhibit special powers, resulting in a different fate for some of the characters:
"Our ending had Diana and Elizabeth escaping in a fighter and going to another mothership. Martin sacrifices himself by taking the soon-to-be-detonated mothership into space, while Donovan and Julie escape in another fighter. They realize that [the defeated Visitors are] taking many Earth people with them...they go flying up after this second mothership. They just make it as the doors close...we're left wondering what will happen to Donovan and Julie as they try to stop Diana, and yet we're given the promise of Liz being the link between the two races..."