Studio Home Entertainment presents
"That object was sent from God to start a new beginning. Or a new end."- Dr. Solomon Holt (James Avery)
Stars: David Keith, Ryan O'Neal, Stephanie Niznik
Other Stars: Brian Thompson, Craig Wasson, James Hong, James Avery
Director: Matt Codd
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language and violence
Run Time: 01h:36m:51s
Release Date: 2002-05-14
DVD ReviewA big floating monolith shaped like South America, roughly 1/2 mile high, erupts from the Earth and is hovering above a remote region of Bhutan. Is it alien? Is it God? What does it want? It has healing powers; in fact it can bring the dead back to life. Locals, who call it The Torus, revere it and consider it to be some kind of god. That is, of course, until the U.S. and Chinese military get into a deadly saber-rattling pissing contest over it.
That's the premise for this B-grade sci-fi film from director Matt Codd (heretofore best known as a production illustrator for such respectable epics as 12 Monkeys, Men In Black and Jurassic Park: The Lost World). Most of Epoch covers ground we've seen before, as various military and political figures try to figure out exactly what to do, and it invariably comes down to a cocky weapons specialist (David Keith) to somehow figure out the right thing to do, which includes defusing a tactical nuke with a Swiss Army knife.
Even though the story has an air of familiarity, the first half of Epoch is actually rather fun. The macho military posturing is a hoot, and there is plenty of weapons, techno babble and B-movie grade high-tech gadgetry. The initial batch of special effects shots look pretty good overall, though the final twenty minutes things start to look a little cheesier, especially during the frantic "leap-from-the-rotating-monolith-onto-the-military-transport" sequence. Still, the opening scenes of the monolith are well done, and knowing this was a low-budget saga just makes them look that much better.
Codd borrows thematically and stylistically from such classics as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Abyss to try and create an evocative sci-fi thriller, made for a fraction of the budget. Like a lot of films, it loses steam in the final act, resulting in a moderately good-looking B-movie with a lot of loose ends unexplained.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: The back cover says this one's letterboxed, but it's a 1.33:1 fullframe transfer. Colors are bright, with respectable black levels. Much of the film is set in shadow, with plenty of cold blue lighting effects, and those shots are rendered decently. The numerous special effects shots blend well with the live action (except for a few near the climax), and the overall transfer is good. I didn't notice any trouble spots with the print, in terms of physical flaws.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: This one comes with a fairly lively 2.0 track, mixed exclusively for the front speakers. The score has an ample deep kick to it, and there is a noticeable separation of instruments between channels. The various and excessive jangly weapons and pneumatic hisses sound natural, and are mixed cleanly.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: The only extra is a theatrical trailer for the feature, and the back cover states there are subtitles in English and Spanish, but in reality it's just Spanish. The film is divided into 24 chapters.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsSome decent B-movie special effects are not enough to salvage Epoch. A tauter climax could have boosted this to a rental recommendation, but instead it opts for vague allusions and incomplete follow-up.
Rich Rosell 2002-07-11