A recent trend in film making is to put out a direct to DVD
movie based on cancelled TV shows that have a cult following. They've done it with Farscape, Stargate
SG-1, and even Firefly (which
was released theatrically.) The latest in
film in this trend is Dead Like
Me: Life After Death which revisits the
characters of the cancelled-too-soon Showtime series.
Like the other TV show movies, this one fails
to capture the spark that the original had but is a nice visit none the
The first few minutes of the movie is a nice recap of the premise of
series. Georgia Lass (or George as she
likes to be called,) is an angst filled 18-year-old girl who has a
life. She's dropped out of college, is
living at home, she can't find a job, her mother drives her to
she doesn't know what she wants to do with her life.
She is very cynical and just doesn't see the
point of it all. (In an early episode
she muses, "I don't have a lot of interest in being a good person or a
person. From what I can tell, either way you're screwed.")
Her life takes a dramatic turn when she's hit
in the head by a toilet from a Russian space station that's fallen from
orbit: she dies.
While this would end most stories, it is just the start of
George's. It turns out that she has
become the Grim Reaper. Well, one of
them anyway. It turns out that there are
a number of reapers whose job it is to claim the souls of those that
pass them along to the afterlife. Each
reaper has an unknown numbers of souls to collect, and when they reach
number they get promoted. George
happened to be the last soul her reaper needed, so she inherits his
whether she likes it or not.
It turns out that being an undead reaper isn't such a great
job. There isn't any pay, you have lousy
hours, and you still have to support yourself somehow.
But what are ya gonna do? There's
really no alternative.
As the film opens, the restaurant were George and the other
reapers in the area would meet every day has burned down and the old
Rube, is no where to be seen. They soon
find out that Rube has passed on and that they have a new boss, Cameron
(Henry Ian Cusick). He's a slick and
very wealthy man who inherited Rube's job because he gets things done
supposed to tighten up the groups performance.
To this end he gives them all fancy cell phones where he'll text
their assignments and has them eating at posh restaurants and living in
The only problem is that Cameron isn't good at his job.
He messes up assignments and gives incorrect
times. When the reapers complain, he
points out that their dead, and that nothing they do really matters. The group takes this to heart and starts
breaking the rules. The tough as nails
Roxy (Jasmine Guy) saves a drowning man instead of saving him, and when
(originally played by Laura Harris but replaced by Sarah Wynter in this
is pressed for time she doesn't lead her victim 'into the light' as
The worst offender however is George who decides that she's
finally going to reveal herself to her sister.
All of these actions later come back to haunt the reapers.
I really enjoyed the show while it was on, and was eagerly
looking forward to this direct-to-DVD movie.
Unfortunately this film wasn't able to capture the quirkiness of
show. Part of that was the film's
intent. The filmmakers state in the extras
that they were trying to show that George had matured in the three
the series ended, and they succeeded with that.
She's content working at Happy Time, and has even bought into
corporate BS and is happy to pass it on to her fellow employees. But that's not the George from the
series. This mature George doesn't have
a sardonic wit and the lack of cutting quips really lessens the show.
They also played with some of the rules that were
established or implied in the series. At
one point George tries to take someone's soul, albeit a bit later than
supposed to, and she can't. She didn't
have a problem with that in series. It's
implied that something had to happen before the person she was supposed
was able to pass on, but if that's the case, why did she get the
message in the
first place. There's also a fairly big
plot hole concerning the new boss Cameron.
If' he's such a screw up (which he is) why was he put in charge
first place? That quandary had me
scratching my head for most of the film.
That's not to say it was all bad. There
were some parts that were very reminiscent
of the series best moments. The suicide
at the beginning was darkly humorous, and the ultimate fate of Cameron
comical in a disturbing way. Roxy and
were their old selves for most of the time too, and it was very nice to
whole gang once again.
It's too bad that Laura Harris had a scheduling conflict and
couldn't reprise her role as Daisy once again.
While Sarah Wynter physically resembles Harris, she was all
the part. She came across as bossy rather
than as a floozy, and she lacked the vulnerable interior that Harris
to project. It's really too bad, because
her scenes dragged the film down.
Of course the biggest hole was Mandy Patinkin who played
Rube. He was sorely missed, but since he
walked out on his show "Criminal Minds" with no notice, he's persona
The 5.1 English soundtrack was very satisfying. The
sound was clear and there was good use
made of the full soundstage, with crashes and other audio effects
all corners of the room. The music
sounded bright and crisp. There wasn't
any evidence of hiss or distortion. There
are English subtitles. A very good sounding disc.
The video quality of the anamorphic 1.78:1 image was very
good. The lines were nice and tight and
the image was sharp. There were no
noticeable digital artifacts and the dreaded edge enhancement was
nonexistent. I colors were bright and
the detail and contrast were also very good.
A nice solid presentation.
In addition to the film there is a commentary track with director
Stephen Herek and star Ellen Muth. It
was an average commentary with some nice nuggets of information but
really earth shattering. There's also a
featurette "Back from the Dead:
Resurrecting Dead Like Me" which was a bit of a disappointment. It was mostly fluff with the actors and
creative staff all complimenting the original series and each other.
While this movie has some flaws, it was nice to spend some
time with these characters again. The
ending to the movie wasn't as touching or fitting as the conclusion to
series, but it does expand on George's character and leaves a lot of
more movies. When all is said and done,
the positives outweigh the negatives and this is a film worth owning. Recommended.