Universal Studios Home Video presents
Cleopatra 2525: The Complete Series (2000)
"500 years into the future, she will enter a world where machines rule the Earth. Humans have been driven underground, and Cleopatra is about to discover there's no place like home."- opening narration
Stars: Jennifer Sky, Gina Torres, Victoria Pratt
Other Stars: Patrick Kake, David Press, Joel Tobeck, Elizabeth Hawthorne
Director: Greg Yaitanes, Rick Jacobson, Andrew Merrifield, T.J. Scott, Wayne Rose, John Laing, Chris Graves, Mark Beesley
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 12h:37m:00s
Release Date: 2005-07-19
DVD ReviewBy all rights the short-lived television series Cleopatra 2525 should be nothing short of brilliant. It doesn't quite get to brilliant, but it does achieve a certain cachet that makes it memorable, if nothing else. Never mind that it was produced by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, because we're talking a show set 500 years in the future starring a cryogenically frozen stripper named Cleopatra (Jennifer Sky) who awakens after complications from breast augmentation surgery in a world where evil machines called Baileys have forced humankind deep underground. Luckily for Cleo she is taken under the wings of futuristic Bailey fighters Hel (Gina Torres) and Sarge (Victoria Pratt), who happen to have a propensity for wearing a steady stream of midriff-baring and skintight outfits.
Like I said: what's not to like? This is obviously not hard science, being more technically just dumb escapism, and it is a very low-budget Matrix/Terminator-lite presentation more concerned with cartoonish villains and cute girls in abundance. Discount the Logan's Run-era sets and questionable green screen shots and it is possible to let the broad strokes of campy humor wash over you. But if you look too hard, or overanalyze things too much, you'll probably see through the veneer of trashy camp and just see a hokey sci-fi show seemingly built around showcasing the rock hard abs of Victoria Pratt over plot.
Universal has packaged up the show's entire two season run—all 30 episodes—on this 3-disc set. The first season eps were 30 minutes, when the show was aired as part of a double bill with Bruce Campbell's revolutionary spy series Jack Of All Trades, but after the demise of Campbell's show (don't get me started on that one), Cleopatra 2525 was expanded to 60 minutes. You can talk all you want about having more room to flesh out characters and plotlines in the one hour format, but I prefer the half hour structure. The brevity really put the brakes on unnecessary padding, and considering that most episodes followed the same general flow (bad guys, shooting, someone in danger, rescue) 30 minutes allowed one to zip in and zip out without too much extra baggage. There is, however, some merit in the final few one hour episodes, when a bit of clarity about the origins of the Baileys is brought to light, and the series manages to reach some sort of closure.
The thing to remember about a show like this is that its main character is a cryogenically-frozen stripper. If you keep reminding yourself of that point, any of the glaring problems should be easier to swallow. Sure, there's the painful reworking of the Zager and Evans song 2525 over the opening credits, or the logic and physics problems of all of that underground shaft leaping (it's like skydiving without parachutes), but remember that the main character is a cryogenically frozen stripper. It's the little things that count, and it shouldn't be a surprise that by the third episode Cleo has the opportunity to do a little pole dancing in order to cause a diversion of some kind, or that there is a fine Run, Lola, Run-themed ep, as well.
Aside from the well-toned female bellies, it is clown-faced recurring villain Creegan (Joel Tobeck) who really boosts the whole dynamic of the show whenever he shows up. He's sort of like The Joker on acid, a futuristic baddie that is firmly locked on the over-the-top setting. Creegan makes for an appropriately colorful foe on a show like this, not used often enough, but thankfully part of a major plotline throughout the show's run.
Cleopatra 2525 falls in line with shows like Xena and Hercules, where camp and smirky humor played alongside what was supposed to be action-packed drama. The problem is that is a very thin line, and whether a show like this hits you as dumb fun or a piece of moronic trash is the real test.
Just remember that the main character is a cryogenically frozen stripper, and I think you'll be okay.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All thirty episodes of the series are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame glory, and for a show that was never much more than a sci-fi cheapie, the transfers look much better than expected. Colors looks bright, with fleshtones—and here's a show that is literally built around them—looking quite natural at all times. Image clarity seems an improvement over the original broadcast quality, so much so that some of the questionable effects shots look even more so.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is a 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo track, and while it isn't a real showcase presentation, it handles the basic requirements of delivering campy dialogue and laser beam blasts accurately and cleanly.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sliders: Season Three, Revelations, Earth 2
9 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Tri-Fold Amaray with slipcase
Extras Review: Extras are on the thin side, consisting of a set of nine deleted scenes (09m:09s), most notable more Creegan and some eye-popping Victoria Pratt outfits. Outtakes (04m:19s) and Special Effects and Stunts (01m:55s) are pretty self-explanatory, offering narration free look at flubs (mostly slipping and falling) and side-by-side comparisons of effects creation vs. finished product.
Also included is a full-length episode of Earth 2 (46m:49s), entitled The Man Who Fell to Earth (Too).
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsIt's sci-fi starring cute girls in midriff-baring skintight outfits, and Cleopatra 2525 seems to know it is operating at a very base, very campy level. Universal has packaged the entire two season run of the series onto 3 discs, and while it is hardly "must see" TV, it has a dumb charm for those who already know they like this kind of thing. You know, cryogenically frozen strippers.
Now where is Jack of All Trades?
Rich Rosell 2005-07-14