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Time Guardian, The

MGM // R // July 22, 2021
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted July 1, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Directed by Brian Hannant, who co-wrote the screenplay with John Baxter, 1987's The Time Guardian had one of the biggest budgets of any movie made in Australia at the time. It was, by the standards of the country's film industry, a project of fairly massive scope and ambition and it was meant to put the country on the map, proving that it could put out the kind of crowd-pleasing blockbusters that were, and still are, coming out of Hollywood… but it didn't really turn out that way.

The movie begins in the year 4039 in the advent of the Neutron War. A rag tag group of survivors use their abilities to travel the city they call home through time to, hopefully, find solace and, ideally, not get slaughtered by the sinister cyborgs known as The Jen-Diki, whose missions is to basically commit genocide against the human race for reasons that are never really properly explained. Anyway, yeah, this entire city can travel through time and travel through time it does but before the city itself makes the movie, two of the survivors, Ballard (Tom Burlinson) and Petra (Carrie Fisher), are sent by The Boss (Dean Stockwell) back to 1988 first, to get everything ready for the arrival of said city. You can see how it wouldn't be so hard for transporting an entire city through time to go wrong, so it's up to these two tenacious time travelers to do a bit of prep work to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Our two heroes land in the Australian outback. When Petra gets injured, Ballard manages to connect with and geologist working in the area named Annie Lassiter (Nikki Coghill) in order to get her some medical attention. As Ballard and Annie start to have feelings for one another, things get complicated for the two time travelers when the local cops start to take an interest in their arrival and a small but dangerous group of Jen-Diki follow them through time to 1988 to put a stop to their exploits.

The Time Guardian might be derivative nonsense, borrowing fairly heavily from The Terminator and, yes, Star Wars, but at least it's fun nonsense. Carrie Fisher, presumably cast here just so the producers could cash in on her fame as Princess Leia, is clearly just here to cash a check, putting very little effort into her role at all and not appearing to be particularly invested in much of what's happening around here. Tom Burlinson, however, does a pretty good job as the male lead in the film and plays the macho action hero stereotype pretty effective. Nikki Coghill is also fun to watch here, as she's quite attractive and apparently not adverse to doing a bit of nudity if the film calls for it. Through in Dean Stockwell in a weird outfit (actually, most everyone in the movie wears a weird outfit at some point, that's half of the movie's charm right there, so weird outfit aficionados take note!) and you wind up with a cast that is, if nothing else, amusing to watch.

The movie also benefits from some pretty neat action set pieces. The Jen-Diki are pretty cool looking bad guys and we get some decent battles between them and the human characters that they are Hell-bent on destroying. The effects used in these scenes might have brought home an Oscar or anything, but they are well done and add a good amount to the movie's entertainment factor. That said, at risk of overselling the picture, this is one for fans of B-grade sci-fi schlock and not necessarily one that the mainstream will appreciate. It has plenty of bad dialogue, massive plot holes and a soundtrack that can be more than a little grating at times. But if B-grade genre fare is something you get off on, you'll probably have a good bit of fun with this goofy eighties flick.

The Blu-ray


Scorpion Releasing brings The Time Guardian to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and taken from a new 2k scan of the original 35mm interpositive. Taking up 21.3GBs of space on the 25GB disc, the transfer is pretty solid despite the presence of some minor compression artifacts in a couple of scenes. Colors are particularly impressive here, the bolder and brighter hues really popping at times. Except a bit of film grain but very little noticeable damage at all, the image is very clean. There are no noticeable issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement here at all. Generally speaking, the transfer is quite nice.


The only audio option provided is an English language track in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo format. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Audio quality is fine. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and the levels are properly balanced. There are no issues to note with any hiss or distortion and the score sounds pretty nice.


We get two trailers for the feature and bonus trailers The Time Travelers, Rollerball, Eye Of The Tiger and Trackdown, as well as menus and chapter selection options.

Final Thoughts:

The Time Guardian borrows a lot from other, better movies and it never quite lives up to the sum of its parts. That said, it's goofy enough to be a pretty entertaining watch and while it isn't an unsung sci-fi action classic, it's an enjoyable B-movie if you're in the mood for something you don't need to think about too much. Scorpion's Blu-ray is light on extras but it does look and sound quite nice. Recommended for fans of goofy eighties sci-fi nonsense (but if you don't fall into that group, you can probably pass).

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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