• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Final Encounter

TITLE: Final Encounter

YEAR: 2000

GENRE: Science Fiction

AKA: For The Cause

There are times where some films are doomed literally from their inception. In the case of For The Cause, this film originally was to be a major theatrical release from Miramax Films, but the project never received the money or the green light that was anticipated from its producers. For The Cause ended up being released by the much smaller Millennium/Nu Image film company and ended up being shelved for a couple years froma  lack of a distribution opportunity. The SyFy Channel eventually distributed the project on their television network and subsequent DVD release under the new title Final Encounter. This is too bad that the project did not receive a proper treatment, because Final Encounter did have some great ideas and had potential to be a great sci-fi film but ended up being just another babes and bullets-type of epic.

In the distant future Earth is destroyed by humans through war. Two separate colonies called Brecca and Obsidian were created on a distant planet shortly after Earth’s demise, but both societies brought their antagonistic ways with them. Both cultures have been at war for over one hundred years to the point where both cultures have lost most of their technological advantages and their armies are mostly consisting of teenagers who have no idea why the wars are fought in the first place. General Murren (played by Dean Cain), the greatest military leader of Brecca, concocts a plan to detonate a weapon called the Warhammer under the city of Obsidian which will destroy the city’s remaining technology so that negotiations can commence to end the pointless struggle. General Murren organizes a crack team of military specialists to assist in the daring raid: Sutherland (Justin Whalen), one of the most loyal soldiers of Brecca; Abel (Jodi Wise), one of the few people alive who knows how to detonate the Warhammer; and Evans (Thomas Ian Griffith), a celebrated combatant with a questionable past. The team battles its way under Obsidian, but the team discovers that General Murren’s intentions is to rather destroy the city completely and killing all its inhabitants.

The greatest aspect of Final Encounter is its theme of the futility of war. The teenagers and pre-teens of Brecca know that they must serve the city for the common good of destroying the Obsidians yet have no clue why the wars are being fought, and the fact that they do not question the authority in their community is interesting. However, the script does not seem to carry that theme far enough and the story does not develop much farther than a typical sci-fi shoot-em-up. Part of the problem here is that the past history of Earth is not developed in an adequate fashion and leaves the viewer scratching their heads attempting to contemplate how the two cultures devolved to this state. The filming does look more than adequate and the rest of the production values are competent yet not spectacular. The weapons look a bit understated, but since both societies have not been able to manufacture guns and other assorted firearms for decades that is easily forgivable considering the storyline. Some of the acting is actually pretty good especially Cain as a victory at all costs type of military individual, plus Whalen does a pretty good job as the loyal to the core soldier.

Final Encounter was the beginning of the end for the careers of directors David and Tim Douglas, former visual effects creators for films such as The Last Action Hero and Speed who unfortunately had to leave that line of work due to David’s extreme case of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is unfortunate that the Douglas brothers had their careers cut short due to a combination of lack of commitment from a studio and personal health issues, as Final Encounter shows great potential for some quality directorial work. The Douglas brothers did an acceptable job with the limited budget but Final Encounter is not able to raise itself to an elite status. Final Encounter is not a bad way to waste a Saturday afternoon and it is better than most films that debut on the SyFy Channel.

* * *

–Mark

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