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Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann(1982)
No synopsis for Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann.
For more about Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann and the Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray release, see Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote, Richard Masur, Tracey Walter, Ed Lauter
Director: William Dear
» See full cast & crew
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray Review
. . .or Marty McRide?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 14, 2013
If we accept the oft quoted formulation that The Monkees were "The Pre-fab Four", then perhaps it's not that much of a stretch to see Michael Nesmith as the "The Pre-Fab John". Like The Beatles' Mr. Lennon, Michael always had a certain intellectual air about him, as well as more than a passing disdain for the pop music machinery in which he found himself ensnared. Nesmith always appeared to be slightly (or maybe even more than slightly) uncomfortable in his role as pop star, and he famously refused to participate in at least some of the vaunted Monkees' reunions through the years. He also just as famously spearheaded the Monkees' "revolt" against Don Kirshner which simultaneously led to the group getting a little street cred for crafting their own music while ultimately sealing their fate and ending their still nascent careers (at least as The Monkees). Nesmith had already had some minor success as a musician and songwriter before joining The Monkees, and he was the first ex-Monkee to set out on a solo career, achieving more (again relatively minor) success with his First National Band. But music was only part of the puzzle for Nesmith's voracious intelligence. Film and television have also been integral parts of Nesmith's multimedia interests, and many Nesmith fans know that he has been credited (rightly or wrongly) for helping to create what became MTV (it's a rather circuitous route to get there, but the fact is that Nesmith was championing the idea of the music video as early as The Monkees and continued doing so after the show left the air). Nesmith's first foray into feature films as a multi-hyphenate (he Executive Produced, co-wrote, scored and had a bit part in) was Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann. The film is frankly a pretty low rent precursor to Back to the Future Part III, with a modern day man transported back into the Wild West of the late 19th century. Part of the fun of Timerider is that unlike Marty McFly in Back to the Future, this guy initially has no idea what's going on and spends quite a bit of the first act of the film attempting to orient himself to a world where people run screaming when they see him and in fact may actually drop dead from pure fright.
There's some kind of funny repartee on the interviews included on this Blu-ray where co-writer and director William Dear talks about meeting Michael Nesmith when Nesmith agreed to screen an early cut of Dear's film Northville Cemetery Massacre. After berating the movie as horrible, Nesmith quickly signed on to score it. That began a collaboration which saw the two work on Nesmith's fledgling music video series Elephant Parts and then move on to Timerider. There's a kind of unabashed low rent ambience to the film, with fairly cheesy "special effects" and a plot that plays like a Movie of the Week, but for a certain class of viewer, that's exactly what's so charming about the film.
Lyle Swann (Fred Ward) is a champion dirt bike racer with a completely tricked out Yamaha cycle who is competing in the Baja 1000. In one of those silly set ups that only ever happens in B-grade science fiction movies, there's a time travel experiment going on right out in the open in the desert, where a team of scientists is attempting to send a monkey back in time (what did the poor monkey ever do to deserve that fate?). And of course Lyle, already lost and out of communication with his crew, drives right through the site exactly when the experiment is launched, launching Lyle back to 1875 without his knowledge.
The first part of this "fish out of water" (and/or timeframe) story is fairly amusing, as Lyle first encounters some farmers out on a starlit night, all of whom completely freak out at the sight of this red clad, helmeted being on a bizarre machine. That reaction continues once daylight breaks and Lyle attempts to get someone to tell him what the heck is going on once he manages to find a small outpost. In the meantime, he's been spotted by a crew of bad guys (you expected anything less?) led by Porter Reese (Peter Coyote, chewing the scenery and then some) who want that dang-blasted device Lyle's riding, no matter what it is.
Lyle ends up getting romantically involved with a beautiful townswoman named Claire (Belinda Bauer) while trying to both evade the bad guys and figure out exactly what has happened to him. Timerider toes a fairly fine line between outright silliness (which almost plays like one of those low rent Disney "westerns" like The Apple Dumpling Gang) and some exciting action footage which typically utilizes the bike. There's also a perhaps unwitting homage to Cat Ballou when Claire blows a certain facial feature off one of the bad guys.
The film is amiable enough, but is hobbled by some pacing issues (the opening set up takes forever and really weighs the entire film down), as well as a supposed "twist" that any time travel aficionado is going to see coming from a lightyear off. But the performances (which include a glut of great character bits from people like Richard Masur and Ed Lauter) are quite winning and the film has a genuine sweetness at its core that helps it to overcome some of these flaws.
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray, Video Quality
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Shout! Factory with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. The bulk of this high definition presentation looks very good indeed, with elements in excellent condition and the image sporting a very commendable amount of clarity and sharpness, and with nicely saturated color. Dear utilized Steadicam technology quite a bit to give a point of view perspective on a lot of the bike riding, and those elements look fantastic (some of these sequences are intentionally "dirtied" up to approximate Lyle looking through his high tech visor). Some of the interior scenes suffer from just slightly anemic contrast, but the majority of the film takes place outside, where things pop surprisingly well. There are no real compression artifacts of any kind to report, and there doesn't appear to have been any aggressive digital tweaking of any kind applied to this release.
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that presents dialogue and Michael Nesmith's synth-laden score with excellent fidelity and occasionally wide stereo separation. Everything is quite clear and well prioritized (though I personally would have preferred the score to have been mixed just a little lower), and dynamic range is fairly wide, especially in some of the roaring action sequences.
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann is downright silly at times, but it has an undeniable affability that helps it coast through some of its rougher terrain. This is a film that kids especially should love, since they'll get a kick out of the over the top bad guys (though there is some fairly gruesome albeit cartoonish violence, so parents may want to pre- screen). Ward makes an appealing hero, but it's the supporting cast that really helps to elevate this film. The final slow motion shot of Coyote is almost worth the price of admission alone. This Blu-ray offers excellent video and audio and comes replete with some great bonus content. Recommended.
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Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray - February 4, 2013
Shout Factory has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of director William Dear's Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982), starring Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, and Peter Coyote. The release will be available for purchase online and ...
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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