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This is a Jeffrey Beach and Philip Roth production, like Lost Voyage, Deep Shock and Silent Warnings, which seems to me a definite sign of hope.  All of those films were at least above average, (Lost Voyage more than that) but, as always, anything can happen.  One could say that they're overdue for a stinker, but we'll be reasonable until that becomes impossible.

I'm gathering from the title “Epoch: Evolution” that this is a sequel to another film, but I can't find any information about the previous film on the box.  I'm guessing it was called “Torus” but that's just a guess.  Let's hope the film fills in the gaps, though let's further hope that, unlike Deep Shock, the film doesn't feel the need for an overabundance of title screens every time we change location.  Are we ready? 

Good, cause here we go.

Credits over flowing blue bands, and our stars: David Keith and Billy Dee Williams.  Ooh, and also Brian Thompson (the Bounty Hunter from The X-Files).   Also Angel Boris and Jeffrey Gorman.  Pull your team out, Gorman!  The music is kind of orchestral techno, not bad, but not much to write about either.   And boom, the credits are over pretty efficiently.

“When the Monolith, the engine of Earth's evolution, appeared ten years ago, the world was changed forever,” says a voiceover to a black screen.  “My future wife Casey and I were sent in to investigate,” he goes on, as stars appear, “to learn some of its secrets and to stop the destruction of mankind.”  We pan across to a CGI Saturn, and as this narration continues, we follow each of the planets inward until coming to Earth.  “But not everybody rejoiced.  There are those, like the Genesis Coalition, that would blind the world from the truths of the Torus, seeking to destroy everything it touched, no matter what the cost.  They murdered my wife because of it.  And now, they're hunting my son and I because of what it represents.  They will stop at nothing to destroy what I know.”

I sure hope we get some hint of what that “what” is pretty soon.  “But they can't destroy the truth,” he goes on.  “One day soon, the world will again be shown that man is not alone.  For now, we run.”

And we cut to a guy and his son running from some bad guys who are shooting at them.  Everyone is dressed in black jackets, except for the kid, who is unhelpfully dressed in bright orange.  But the two manage to evade their pursuers, even though the hunters have satellite surveillance technology working for them.  Maybe the orange blinds their eyes.

The hunters keep looking, calling out to their prey, who are hidden in a ledge under the sidewalk.   The kid says he's scared (and he sounds really badly dubbed).  The guy, who is David Keith, says it'll be okay, someday.   The hunters pass right overhead, and about two seconds later, David Keith decides its okay to go.  And he was right! 

They're now walking along a street, being photographed (discretely) by some other guy.  Up ahead, some stranger has collapsed on the street, and David Keith and Son (who is, by the way, named David) are getting closer, but they seem to sense this is some kind of trap or something.  But Son runs right up to the fallen person, touches him, and we get a quick x-ray shot of the guy's chest, with a stopped heart with a bullet hole in it.  But the bullet shrinks and vanishes in a puff of light, and the heart starts beating again.

David Keith reprimands his son for doing this, as it puts them in jeopardy.  They walk away quickly, and the old guy, now healed from death, gets up.

But who do you suppose they walk into!  Yes, it's the two hunters from before, and now there's a third one.  So we've got all Three Stooges.  They start running after David and Keith, and they shoot some person sitting down in the world's most desolate cafe.  The guy falls over and dies, one supposes, and the hunters press on with the chase.

Oh, it turns out the guy isn't dead.  Isn't that delightful?  Thought so.  We get a sloooow motion shot of the guy who appears to be the hunters’ leader, sloooowly circling round the shot guy, who has his hands up.   Why'd you'd use slow-motion here, I have no idea.

Back to David and Keith, they run up to a car.  The driver asks what happened, Keith says never mind and shoves David inside the car.  He then tells the driver to make sure he (David) gets out of there safely.   He then  runs off, when the three hunters show up..  Now, I'm not going to point out that there was plenty of room in the car for Keith to go, too, but...uh, I guess I just did.

Anyway, Keith gets shot a couple of times, trying to retrieve this envelope that he dropped, but it's okay, they were just flesh wounds, because when the hunters round his hiding place (behind a van), he's...vanished! 

And he's now walking down the street, clutching his lower arm not at all like someone who's been shot.  Well, actually, very much like that.   He ducks into a seedy boarding house or hotel or something, but the three hunters follow.  And inside, it turns out it's a brothel (there's red light coming from the open door).  In slow-motion again, with a heartbeat noise on the soundtrack, the hunter leader grabs a girl who just opened a door.

“Where is he?” he asks this gal, gun to her throat.  The fact that she just came from a closed room should tell you that she probably doesn't know a lot, but this guy I'm sure has swell reasons for asking. 

Another door opens, and a goofy guy who's obviously just had a bit of fun holds up his hands in surrender.  He's told to get out, and he does so, without his shoes.

The hunters burst into another room, toss 1) topless gal and 1) scantily clad gal onto the bed there, and look in the closet.  They then toss the gals off the bed, and fill it full of holes.  Finding they've just shot a champion-size nothing, a new record I think by the size of it, they ask the gals, “Where is he?”  Boy this fella Ah-Clem's pretty popular!

Look.   Keith has been running around with his ten year old son.  Is it really likely he's going to spend much time in a brothel?    I’m not trying to be judgmental, but is a brothel a good place for kids? 

Well, apparently the answer is yes, as the scantily clad gal says “You passed him on his way out.”

Hunter leader shows more of the qualities that make him, well, hunter-leader when he interprets this to mean that Keith is on the rooftop.  He sends his guys up there. 

Hunter-leader gets a call on his cell-phone headset, and he and the guy on the line argue about who messed up and lost Keith (and David, too).  It's not all that interesting a conversation.

Phone guy says he's calling off the chase, as it's too “hot” now, and Hunter-leader says, “Well, you're a couple of girl scouts!” and then he beats up a door.   Really.

He gets a call on his cell phone, and tells the caller that “Brandon and his kid” have escaped.   He pauses, and then says, “Don't raise your voice to me, ever!”  Wow, does this guy have, like, anger issues and stuff.

Back to Scanty and Topless, they open the closet, and inside, there's a secret back wall, behind which Keith is hiding.   They want to look at his hand, since it's all shot up, and you know, they like looking at things like that I guess.

So, you've been taking your son to the brothels, huh?   Sorry I was wrong up there.  Who could have known?

Keith pays Scanty the “other half” of the money he paid her to hide him.  And we cut to a ringing bell in the wintertime somewhere.  Snow all over the place.  It's the “Meteora Monastery” in Greece.  Keith drives up in an old truck, while inside an old priest is lighting candles.  Keith knocks at the back door and almost collapses until the priest lets him in.  Once in, the priest tells us that yes indeed, Keith's wounds are just flesh wounds, though he's lost a bit of blood and should rest here.   Wow, from a brothel to a monastery!  Now all we need is a circus and an underwater city, and we'll have every location. 

“I need to see your scrolls,” Keith says, and before you can think that's some kind of innuendo, he asks if the priest can get him (Keith) down to he archives.

Keith and the priest settle down for some exposition.  Keith avows as how his son said “I love you dad,” and then the shooting started and he (Keith) couldn't say it back.   Priest notes that “these people” killed Keith's wife, and now they want to kill him, too.  Whazzup with that, he wants to know.

Keith says it's because he and his late wife had the “audacity” to have this child.  Priest asks, Well, whassup with that, then?  And Keith knows not the answer to this query.

But he notes that somehow, when he and his wife were in the Torus, he got her pregnant “without intercourse” as the DNA showed he was the father.  He also mentions that the boy was full term, though two months early.

“But why do they attack you, then?” asks the priest, with the doggedness of someone who hasn't had any of his questions answered.

Keith says they're trying to destroy what David represents, which is “a new faith.”

The priest allows that “faith cannot be destroyed—only abandoned.” 

And I'm starting to really wish I'd seen the first movie.  But anyway--

We cut to an orbiting “satellite defense station” designed to destroy any nuclear missiles launched from anywhere.  Which is a mighty nice thing for the US and Russian governments to have teamed up on, as yes, it's a joint project.

Inside, two techs talk about how a Chinese communication satellite isn't communicating.  “So what is it doing?” one asks, but no one has an answer.  Instead we cut to this satellite, which, uh, yeah, there it is.   Then we're back on the ground, at the Shaohami Missile Station in China.  Inside there, those wily Chinese are preparing to launch missiles, while saying, “Remember, they gave us no choice” and “They're certain to remember this” and stuff. 

And they launch the missiles, which are heading into space.  A nuclear sub has spotted them, so has NORAD, so has the space station.   The President calls the space station, and gives them clearance to fire.  The sub goes to Defcon 3. 

The space station destroys two of the missiles but the third is shielded by the “communication satellite”   They manage to destroy it at the very last minute, but the shock wave destroys the space station ( the shock waves from the others did pretty much nothing).

From his (barred) window in the monastery, Keith watches the explosion in the sky.

Cut to some people around a bit of wreckage.  A news reporter says how this is a tragedy, and so on.  The reporter wonders how the US and Russian governments will react to this hostility by the Chinese.  Hey, how about wiping 'em all out!  

Back to the monastery, the priest is bringing Keith his breakfast.   They chat a bit about the light in the sky, not knowing what it was, the priest apologizes for not having TV or radio which might provide answers.  So, naturally they wonder what it was, etc, which is kind of stupid on the film-makers part, it makes the characters look dumber than we are (I know, I know!  But it is possible) because we know.   When they (eventually) find out, we'll say, “Duh!” in earnest.

Keith does mention that he's an engineer.  Priest also says that “every child is blessed.”  Maybe they'll work up a line of greeting cards.

Cut to the Whitehouse and a news-thing, what do you call it when a bunch of people yawp questions at the press secretary?   I've completely forgotten.  [Press conference, it finally came to me.]  Anyway, questions about what do we do with those rotten Chinese arise.  The secretary assures everyone that there is a response, and it's a-comin.'

Back aboard the submarine, in slooooow motion, a guy opens official orders (they've got a seal on them and everything).   Based on these orders, they blow up a Chinese sub.

Up in the air, some Russian jets blow up a Chinese jet.   (The effects shots for these things are pretty impressive, by the way.)

So, the Chinese blew up a space station, and in turn, they lost a sub and jet.  That'll learn em, eh?

Back to the nice li'l monastery.    Keith is looking at those scrolls he was on about a while ago.  And even though there's snow on the ground, he's out on the porch in just a sweater.  Man, what a tough guy!  A man's man, etc.  And he sees a photo of a rocky cone like shape, which shape is duplicated on an ancient scroll.   Doesn't this always happen in movies?

By the way, the shape in the photo is NOT a torus.  You know what a torus is?  The shape of a torus is, in laymen's terms, a doughnut.  Not a spiky cone shape that looks like, uh, well, that thing on screen. 

Now that I look at it, the second shape doesn't look much like the first shape, either.  Oh well.  I'm sure it was all Deeply Meaningful in the script.

Meanwhile, in southern France, a satellite zooms in to the site of a traffic accident, where some French police and ambulance attendants are just showing up.  But there aren't any bodies!  Everyone's baffled. 

Especially the one ambulance guy, who looks at this big grassy field and sees the ground begin to erupt and change...a huge rocky shape begins spinning itself out of the ground (while roaring all the time, too).  Behind the rescue workers, some folks who look kind of bloody and beat up walk up to everyone.  Choral music plays, so I'm guessing these are the folks from the accident, restored to life by a benevolent...torus (snicker).   We get a quick shot of the completed rock...torus (snicker) and again, it's not one.  It's a rough, rocky cone with a  twist, like a frozen, petrified cyclone.  It's pretty cool looking, but dammit Jim, it's not a torus!

Well, enough of that excitement.  Back to the monastery.  Priest comes in just as Keith has had a big headache in his head.  “We've looked through everything,” Priest says.  “Maybe your information was wrong.”

Keith seems to take this with resignation, rather than fries or onion rings.   Priest begins bringing the books back to the vault because he's scared of those late fees on ancient scrolls.  As Keith goes to follow, he notes a post in the church that reminds him (and only him) of a torus, and he also notes a weird-beard priest.  He brings this to the attention of the original priest (whose name is Sam). 

Weird-beard has a staff, which has a crystal on the tip, and you'll never guess what shape that crystal is, because it's really not a shape.  It's another one of Those Things.  Priest says the crystal was found around here, “in the thirteenth century.”

I'm going to call this shape The Epoch Shape.  And I sure hope Keith goes to the Castle Anthrax, solely because the beacon there “I just remembered, is Epoch shaped.”  Because that would rock utterly. 

Priest, while I was yakking, said that the stone was found by someone named “Veros” who was eccentric and claimed the stone was “the key to great power.”  But, the priest notes, the monks were able to make NOTHING of the stone, so they used it as a bookmark.  Isn't that hilarious?  Whaddaya mean, no?

Keith grabs the stone (after getting permission) and allows how it might be a key “to the house of...the one from within.”  Wow, this stone is the key to lots of things!  It's probably like a skeleton stone. 

They talk about the inscription on the stone.  Apparently, it's still untranslated.  And the candles flicker, and over the monastery passes a helicopter.   It's quite a gorgeous shot.

And, almost twenty-six minutes into the show, Billy Dee Williams shows up.  I bet you'd forgotten about him, just like I had!   Well, here he is.  Priest is leading him up to meet Keith.   They banter a bit about nothing much.  Billy Dee tells Keith about the new torus “in France.”

“In France?” Keith marvels, as if this was pretty unprecedented, but Billy Dee confirms the nation.

Billy Dee also mentions the bit about Russia, the US, and China and all that stuff, which of course is all news to Keith.  Billy Dee says that “NSO wants you (Keith) back.”

“I'll get my things,” says Keith.  Fade to white--

And we're in Frankfurt, at the headquarters of the Genesis Coalition, which you'll recall from way back at the opening narration, is evil and stuff and killed Keith's wife. 

A speaker says that Hollywood shows all kinds of “cuddly aliens” and “shiny spaceships” which reinforces the idea that aliens, if they're out there, are nice guys.

Sorry, sorry, but what movies has this guy been watching?  Yes, yes, he's just described “ET: The Extraterrestrial,” but pretty much no other movie made before or since.  Aliens in Hollywood are almost always evil.   The good ones are the rare exceptions (unless they make box office gold).  A quick shot of the audience shows us Hunter-Leader.

The guy goes on, basically, to talk about the conspiracies that bedeviled The X-Files for seven seasons or so.  He mentions the first “torus” (but calls it “a rock covered object” which is way more accurate) and says it destroyed some aircraft and released “a lethal cloud, that almost destroyed our Earth.”  A quick shot of his audience shows that they look mostly like losers who couldn't get in to the Star Trek convention next door, so they settled for this instead.  Another quick shot (to be fair) shows some of them drifting off out of the auditorium.

The speaker says that the object “departed, but not before impregnating the future wife, of engineer, Dr. Mason Rand [Keith].” 

He finishes up with some wacky religious stuff, mostly dealing with “mankind was created in God's image” and God wasn't a torus, or an Epoch, so, then, naturally, uh, everything you know is wrong.   

His audience looks pretty restless, but no matter, it's Hunter-Leader who counts, and he's the one at the wine and cheese reception later, lamenting how he (Hunter-Leader) found Keith, and Nuthatch (the speaker) let him escape. 

Nuthatch pooh-poohs this.  He says that Hunter-Leader doesn't believe in the Grand Cause anymore, now, he believes in money!   Hunter-leader, though, says that “after Dresden” (which I think is where David and Keith escaped), Keith will be better protected, so he (Hunter-leader) will need “help.”  He is offered an additional “five million” but he demands ten.  (Good LORD what a greedy bastard!  I'd do it for [extraordinarily low fee deleted]!)

Since they seem unwilling to pony up, he prepares to depart, but is told to sit down again.  And with a couple of discrete nods, he gets his ten.

And we cut to the scene of the French torus (giggle) appearance.  Billy Dee and Keith are checkin' it out.  Billy Dee asks if the appearance is related to the current tense state of world affairs, and Keith allows how that's a possibility, but raises the intriguing question that maybe the agenda of the “first torus” was never completed.   Billy Dee shows him some photos of topless Hollywood starlets.

--ha!  Woke you up, didn't I?  Actually, he shows him a picture of Hunter-leader, and they allow how he's a bad dude and so on, although, not a bad enough dude to rescue the President or anything.  He apparently goes where the money is and that's it. 

Just a note to people who are University of Tennessee fans—David Keith, in this scene, is wearing a hat with a big orange T on it.    That is all.

Another vehicle drives up, and they both get into that, and we fade to white and a bunch of very enthusiastic people jumping up and down as they gaze upon the Epoch shaped thing in the middle of France.  For something that could, I would imagine, impact the world, the crowd is kinda small.  Perhaps everyone figures, hey, if it shows up in France, they've probably already surrendered, so let's wait until they make a tiresome existentialist movie about how no one can deal with it, because no one can deal with anything.

Billy Dee and Keith show up, talking about those car-crash survivors from earlier, and just like way earlier than that, some hidden person is taking pictures of the two of them.  Ooh, the conspiracy is everywhere. 

Inside a tent where those survivors are, Billy Dee notes that there is nothing wrong with them, but blood, skin and etc samples will be flown to the “NSO” which should make us all feel safer as we curl up in our beds with the cats and puppies, visions of huge paychecks dancing in our heads.  Keith and Billy Dee also note, almost in passing, that Keith is supposed to go inside the “torus” somehow, apparently just like he did last time (damn it!) and he (Keith) knows all about how to do this.

Keith and Billy Dee leave the tent.  Some bald guy shows up and asks if Keith is here “to be cured” by the Epoch.  The bald guy says something like, “I killed yesterday with Catherine, today I am cured” and he balls up his fists to show how this is true and all.  Or maybe he says, “I came yesterday with cancer, today I am cured.”  He's rather hard to understand.  At any rate, or rather because of, Keith takes off his hand bandage and notes his own curation—the flesh wound is gone.   But no one notes that Bald Cured Guy is still pretty damn bald.  So he didn't get everything, right?

Billy Dee interrupts this cure-fest to bring Keith over to where some computer monitors are.  He says this is where “operations” are. 

He introduces Keith to Pretty Hot Science Chick, Who I (From Keith's Expression) Figured Was Scanty From Earlier, But Who Is Actually Dr. Hollis.

Dr. Hollis (aren't you glad I rewound) has been studying the previous “torus” from ten years ago, and made a specialty of studying Keith, too.  (She did her thesis on him.  That is not a dirty remark, it is an educational one.)

Keith asks Dr. Hollis if they've seen any markings or stuff on this new torus, and she says no, but not all the data is in. 

Keith unwraps the crystal he STOLE from the monastery.  Dr. Hollis says it's beautiful but wonders what it is.  Keith opines that he was hoping she could tell him. 

Let me answer them both:  it's an EPOCH shape! 

After asking her about carbon dating, etc, he gives her the crystal and asks her to translate the glyphs on it.  She goes off to do so. 

So, is she Angel Boris?   And, where's Brian Thompson?

Turns out, by the way for those of you looking into this, that carbon dating is really simple.  You hold the thing under a lamp, and there you go.  This carbon dating also tells you that the glyphs are similar to Aztec writing, “or ancient Naxi [sic].”  “How old is that?” asks Billy Dee, and he told that this is like, “the beginnings of written language.”  Billy Dee is impressed, I guess. 

But Keith strides off to meet and shake hands with...Brian Thompson!  Hoo HAH, he has finally shown up, at the 35 minute mark.  Well, better late than never.   And, it turns out, that here he is not an evil alien shape-shifter.  If you were expecting that, well, sorry.   He's a military guy with a camouflage uniform and everything.

He's supposed to go in an evaluate this here (cough) torus thing in a really short time frame.   Why is that, Keith asks, and he's reminded of this whole, “Chinese have pissed off the whole world” thing and stuff.

Just then, Dr. Hollis asks Keith to come and look at something.  It's a collection of hot underwear.  Ha ha, made you look.   Actually, she wants everyone to look at the “south side” of the (cough) torus. 

On screen, it looks like a clown face (a scary, mad clown) but everyone seems to think this clown is bad, it means someone has...uh, already, um, got inside the Epoch, uh, because, er, cough cough cough, uh, the script said something on that page.  I guess. 

Everyone wonders how someone could have got in there so darn quick. 

Billy Dee offers how this would be hard, as you'd need heavy equipment and lifters and such, but Dr. Hollis says that another way would be to use acoustics, “some kind of calibrated tone” which is, when you think about it, just the same as heavy equipment.  (I mean, when you think about it until your ears bleed.)

Billy Dee thinks the Epoch might be booby-trapped, and Brian Thompson says there's one way to find out, and he moves offscreen, and Keith starts chanting some kind of song which I guess is supposed to illustrate Brian Thompson's fine resolve to solve things the military way and get results and stuff, but it honestly makes Keith look just a tad callous.  I mean, Brian Thompson is probably flying to his doom, right?  We're not even forty minutes in.

We get a pretty impressive (CGI, I think) shot of some kind of military vehicle extending its compartment up on stilts toward the Epoch.  Inside, are a bunch of folks with gas masks and such, and these people include Keith, Dr. Hollis and Brian Thompson.  And they go inside the Epoch, which is very cardboard-looking.  Brian Thompson pronounces the air breathable, so everyone takes off his or her mask.   Better for the actors, I imagine.

Folks chat a bit, then Brian Thompson loses contact with “Base One” so he orders a flunky to reestablish contact.  Keith says this is due to Epoch-type interference, and that Brian Thompson doesn't need Base One, “big guy.”  But Brian Thompson is going to go by the book here, which is pretty rare in these kinds of movies so some points are awarded for that. 

Keith and some other soldier go further into the Epoch, and the music gets spooky-like, and this glowing jellyfish thing floats toward them.  The soldier draws a gun but doesn't fire, while Keith's face is all full of wonder.  Brian Thompson reports that radio is reestablished, and they're all coming in, and Keith says this is good as there is now company.  Brian Thompson wants to know all about this, but Keith can't say anything really concrete.  It's always this way in these kinds of movies. 

The creature moves toward the two, and they move toward it, and it pulses out some kind of energy ring which makes them clutch their heads.  The soldier aims his gun but Keith kicks it aside so the shot goes wild.  Brian Thompson and Dr. Hollis are calling out for Keith in an alarmed way and they rush toward where he is.  And where is he?  No one can find him.

It's because he and the solder have been transported to some white, featureless room.  Someone else shows up and aims a gun at the two, and Keith dissuades the soldier from going for his gun and tries to make peace.  But the new guy is kind of twitchy, and in response to Keith's request for a name, he says it doesn't matter who he is, as he knows who Keith is.  Which seems to make him twitchy-er.  But Keith guesses Twitchy is from The Genesis Coalition. 

The soldier goes for his rifle, Twitchy aims but Keith jumps in the way and gets shot, and instantly they're all back in the rocky bit of the Epoch.  Keith's got a nasty wound in the stomach but all the other soldiers knock down Twitchy and make sure he stays knocked down.  Dr. Hollis goes to Keith, all yelling out his name and noting the wound and stuff.

Instead of using its mutant healing power, the Epoch does nothing and everyone hustles Keith out of there back to emergency surgery.    We get some bloody stomach wound footage, and then, of course, Epoch decides enough of this bullet-wound stuff, and heals Keith right up.   Keith pushes the oxygen mask aside in manly frustration.   Everyone looks on in wonder (including Dr. Hollis and Brian Thompson, neither wearing surgical masks, but heck, it's a movie).    Dr. Hollis looks at Brian Thompson like, What the hell?  And Brian Thompson grins and shrugs!  Wow, the coolest acting in the movie.  Hope he makes it to the end credits, but alas he's a soldier so I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't.  Too bad.  Still, we'll always have The X-Files.  He also played a Klingon on that Star Trek where Riker was traded to a Klingon ship, and he was one of the punks in the opening of The Terminator. 

Well.  A quick shot of the Epoch shows the massive crowd of perhaps twenty people looking at this incredible sight from within the earth.  Well, I suppose the rest of everyone had hair appointments or something important to do.    And the ship, which must have seen something amazing, an Epoch rising out of the ground, had somewhere to get to and sailed quietly on.

Dr. Hollis and Keith banter about the Epoch and how it healed him.  (Which would make me think the crowd ought to be massive around this thing, if it can heal people, but there I go thinking again.)

They also talk about his backstory and stuff.   And you get the feeling there's romance in the air.  But there's probably a spray that can take care of that.

Elsewhere, Brian Thompson is interrogating Twitchy, who's being uncooperative.  Keith shows up and basically says, the Genesis folks left you to die, why not help us out?

Twitchy tells them that Keith's son was conceived in “an unholy union” and that he, Keith, is a “broken record, skipping over, and over, and over [etc].”  Keith asks him what he and his folks are afraid of, and Twitchy asks if Keith isn't tired of running?   He says that Keith's son will be killed one day, just like his wife was, and Keith belts him a good one.  Good for you, Keith!

And we cut to some satellite in space.    It's looking at a mining site in Russia.   Because there's nothing else good on. 

But then, a steam-shovel uncovers some glowing stuff, and everyone runs away from this.  But not fast enough, as a SECOND Epoch appears, and apparently it's not as healing-minded as the first, as it sends out a ring of fire that destroys the poor ex-Soviets before it rises into the sky.   A shot of the earth shows that these damn things send out huge, and I mean HUGE rings of shock and fire, meaning that (at the very least) thousands of people are being killed for every Keith who's being healed.

And then we cut to some command center in Beijing, where I am sure the Chinese are up to No Good, as they have been throughout the film.  (The first film must have really short-changed them, they've got quite a mad-on here.)

There's some Party guy arguing with a Military guy.  The Party guy is talking about how this whole blowing up the station thing was a bad idea, and it will make everyone miserable, while the military guy says, well, yes, but we got rid of that station!  We hated that station.

But enough of that, as we cut to some helicopters roving over the ocean.  Aboard are all our heroes, Dr. Hollis, Keith and one imagines Brian Thompson.  Yup, there he is.  Dr. Hollis and Keith are discussing this new Epoch, and mention that it killed over 400 people.  Dr. Hollis wants to know what kind of “intelligence” does that, and Keith says, “Intelligence doesn't guarantee mercy,” which I get his point, but mercy has nothing to do with incinerating people who dug you up.   I think he means morality.  He speculates that the two are some kind of yin-yang thing, one gives life, the other takes it.  Dr. Hollis wonders what kind of message they can get from “the way it's defending itself.”

Brian Thompson joins the discussion, and it gets confusing.  He says, “The message is the defense.  Stay away or die.  It's a 'Do not eat the fruit from the tree' sort of thing.”

“Resist temptation or suffer the consequences,” offers Keith, and Brian Thompson says this is what he was thinking, too.  Dr. Hollis looks as confused as I do.

Look, I'm sure the writer didn't think these religious remarks sound as shoe-horned in as they do, and I imagine he had a point in inserting them, but they just come off as dumb.  They just sound like an attempt to sound profound by being confusing, on the theory that no one will say the Emperor has no clothes.  Well, the damn Emperor’s naked, so there.

We cut to some camp set up around the new Epoch, where press people are filing reports and taking pictures.   Lots of soldiers are running around as we see that one of the news people is Hunter-Leader from way in the beginning of this thing.  He orders his flunkies into a van.  

Back to the Chinese.  Party guy says they don't know the object's intentions, and military guy says they're about to find out, and we cut to some jets flying toward the new Epoch.   They fire a couple of missiles into it, which gets no reaction, but when they unleash their awesome machine guns, the Epoch II reacts by sending out a ring of fire, which incinerates the two jets.  Inside the van, Hunter-Leader notes the shaking of the landscape.   He goes out, notes the fading energy ring, and wishes Keith good luck though one suspects he is being facetious.

Another spy satellite view cuts to the “NSO Headquarters” in Washington, DC.    Inside, Billy Dee and some army brass are wondering how the Chinese jets got there, and a lady Russian commander says they used stolen codes, etc, and she says the Russians will prevent those wily Chinese from getting up to this kind of mischief in the future. 

Everyone talks some more, and Billy Dee offers up his opinion that since the Chinese want to start WWIII, the Epochs have shown up to end it, by ending everything.  But General Whitehair has something else to show Billy Dee.

It's a picture of an ant.  Well, no, I just said that to wake you up.  He shows how the energy rings from the two Epochs are getting bigger and bigger, and before long they'll intersect each other.  Billy Dee says this will effect the weather. 

There'll be hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes and stuff like that, but when the two rings intersect, it will all be over, according to Billy Dee, because the Earth will blow up right about then. 

He then asks about those Chinese, and Gen. Whitehair says they (the Chinese) are building up their forces and have missiles that can reach anywhere.  Billy Dee says we need to get them to “stand down” while in the background, Russian Lady commander gets a cell phone call.   But we don't hear what she's told, instead, we cut to some city being threatened and menaced by some fire in the sky.   It goes over head, and we fade to a troop carrying plane, with a lady Russian reporter on board.   She talks about how tensions are high, with the Chinese trouble-makers on one side, and the whole rest of the world (probably not France) on the other. 

And some helicopters are patrolling the airspace around Epoch II.   Keith and company are just now pulling up, and Hunter-Leader is taking pix of them.  Keith says they can't see much of Epoch II from on the ground, and Brian Thompson says they can fix that, and they set about to do just that.  And those rotten Genesis people are moving into position, so they can do nefarious things no doubt. 

On board a helicopter, Keith and Brian Thompson are looking for a doorway into Epoch II.   Keith gives some hints and the pilot complies.   They fly around, and Keith takes some video.

On the ground, Hunter-Leader notes that Keith is “doing his homework” so it is time that they do theirs.  That is a good strategy to get good grades in school and plus in life. 

Back on the ground, Keith, Dr. Hollis and Brian Thompson are analyzing the video.   They can't seem to find any kind of entrance, so Brian Thompson is making military-grumbly kind of noises, and when questioned about his (no doubt) hostile orders, he responds that “this isn't some pet rock that wants to share its feelings.  This one kills.” 

Everyone but Keith leaves, and he gets some fax printout of the converging rings and has This Look which says, This Looks Bad. 

Cue the montage of Looking at Stuff.  When Dr. Hollis and Brian Thompson appear the next morning, Keith announces that the entrance isn't on the sides, it's on the top.  He's asked how they get up there, since Epoch II has a “defense shield” and he admits he hasn't gotten that bit figured out yet. 

But (as some sinister Genesis guy puts something outside the tent) he says that he's found that there's a fifteen-meter safe area where they can land.   Sinister Genesis guy hears this too and leaves.  Boy, those Genesis guys sure count on being lucky in their information gathering.  What if this guy had walked by a minute later?  He’d be sacked.

Cut to the chopper in the air, and Keith is telling Dr. Hollis that they'll have to jump piggy-back, and she's all, No way, and he's all, Well, it's the only shot, so she gets all, Well okay then. 

And everyone jumps out of the helicopter.  Me, I'd figure that a fifteen-meter landing area would preclude parachutes, as they're not that accurate.  I'd figure a long rope.  But then, I don't write these kinds of movies, I just review them. 

And lastly, Brian Thompson jumps out.   Everyone floats lazily to the top of Epoch II.

Back on the ground, Hunter-Leader approaches one of the Russian soldiers, and tries to get past him, but doesn't, so he ends up beating him up, then shooting him dead (just to show he's complete bastard and all).   Lucky for Hunter-Leader that there was only one guard, eh?   Maybe no one thought this Epoch site was all that important, or maybe everyone else was off having a smoke.  Nobody should smoke! 

Now that he's disposed of the crack security, Hunter-Leader calls his own cronies in.  “Go, go, go, go,” he tells them, and sure enough, we see some non-Genesis soldiers off smoking somewhere.  It is bad to smoke!

One guard sees his buddy lying on the ground, and is like, Huh.  He seems more curious than, you know, on his guard or something.  He gets disposed of quickly. 

Back on Epoch II, the parachutes land as planned and everyone’s ready to go inside.  The top of Epoch II will remind many of the asteroid in Armageddon, well, it would if we saw more of it.  But we're soon back on the ground, as the Genesis people make short work of the few troops still paying attention.    The Genesis people manage to steal a helicopter, and they take off. 

On Epoch II, Brian Thompson is laconically told that he should “be advised, you may have company soon.”   He, with equal world-weariness, acknowledges and asks the guys with him to keep watch.  Oh, that's a good plan, as the other watch-keepers on the ground did so well. 

He turns to Keith and Dr. Hollis, and complains that he doesn't see a door.  Keith points out a hole in a rock, and says, “There are none so blind,” and asks Dr. Hollis if she's translated the writing on the crystal Epoch model.  She says it's a blend of Aztec and Arabic (which is quite a blend, I must say) and they refer to “something from within.  This last glyph represents a child, and this one a key.”

Oo, you mean like David being the child, and also the key?  I bet I figured it out.  No, I'm not putting money on it, but come on, it's obvious, eh?

Anyway, Keith puts the crystal in the hole in the rock, which he says “fits like a glove.”  If you say so, man.  He says that “energy frequencies are revealed by light” which you should probably remember if you have a physics test coming up any time soon.  I mean, the movie wouldn't lie, would it?  Anyway, he points a flashlight at the crystal, and it reacts and opens up a hole.  Everyone thinks this is pretty cool of Keith to do, like a card trick or something.  They all prepare to go in this hole.  And then they do, and we get a better look at the top of the Epoch II, and it looks rather more cardboard-y than Armageddon, but be fair, this was probably made on the same budget as a lunch on Armageddon. 

The (now evil) helicopter fires a flare down to the Epoch II.    Oh, my mistake, it's a bomb, and it shakes everyone inside the Epoch.   I guess Brian Thompson didn't leave anyone on the surface with, I dunno, defensive weapons or something.  But no matter, as most of Hunter-Leader's folks, and him too, all parachute down to the safe zone. 

Inside, Keith and Co are walking through some corridors that make the planet sets on the old Star Trek look like the height of realism.  Brian Thompson spills the beans about the hijacked helicopter. 

Hunter-Leader and his men are preparing to go down the same opening when they see their helicopter disintegrated by energy from Epoch II.  Too damn little and too damn late, Epoch II, where were you when they were parachuting down?  Lazy-ass alien artifact....  Hunter-leader notes that he and his men “gotta get outta here.”  Bit late for that, eh?  But they mean, into the hole.  Which Keith didn't bother to close.  Nice job, Keith, why didn’t you leave them some snacks, too?  Ultra-sheesh.

We cut to those wily Chinese, saying that their missiles are ready and they are the ultimate bad-asses and they can kick everyone's butt, even if they are “so ronery.”

A newscaster notes how the world situation is tense and everything, and then we're back with Hunter-Leader and his men and their infrared goggles, moving through Epoch II's tunnels.  Funny how Brian Thompson and his men didn't need infrared goggles, but I guess that's because they're the good guys. 

And we cut to these good guys, but suddenly the bad guys are there and they start shooting, and like throughout this film, they manage to take out several good guys.  But Epoch II seems to be reacting to this, somehow.  Casualties even out a bit, but the bad guys regain the upper hand and pretty much show they're damn evil (shooting one wounded, helpless good guy right through the heart, for example).   Pretty soon, on the good guy side, only Brian Thompson and of course Keith and Dr. Hollis are still around.   Brian Thompson collects the dog tags of the fallen, which makes me think that perhaps both sides wiped each other out (as no one shoots at him) but I'm hesitant to think that.

Anyway, they move on, and so do we as the newscaster remarks about how weather and earthquakes and things are kind of letting on that Earth is getting in trouble and stuff.  All over the planet stuff that's not good is going on down.

Back with Billy Dee and the Russian-talking chick he's with, in the command center of stuff, she asks him to confirm that the Epochs can be destroyed with conventional weapons?    He says no, relating that the original Epoch (I guess from the first movie) absorbed a nuclear blast like a sponge.  The white-haired general says he's received orders to fire a “subterranean deep-impact missile” with a nuclear warhead UNDER the Epoch, they can “drop it, bury it, and give it a funeral all at the same time.”

This has so many mind-boggling things in it, it's hard to digest in one sitting.  This guy says they have, basically, an Earth-borne torpedo?   That's pretty damn amazing.  Also the fact that they seem to assume the earth under the Epoch is hollow, or at least amenable to being hollow.   Despite the remarkable concepts floated here, it all has “Bad Idea” stamped on it in indelible ink.   Billy Dee wonders about the team inside Torus II (he's told they'll be “remembered as the heroes they are”) but the Russian Lady says “a nuclear strike on Russian territory” is a non-starter. 

White-Hair says that everyone may be running out of options for anything else, but Russian General Lady says she'll go to the embassies.  As Carl, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force would say, Ooh, ho ho, that sounds like SUCH a good plan.   Despite Billy Dee's semi-protest, she leaves anyway, and he gets depressed, and White-Hair says he might have a contingency plan.

“And a rose, by any other name, is still a rose,” says Billy Dee, showing that he did so not sleep through his freshman English class. 

And we cut to a satellite view of “Ramstein Air Force Base” in Germany.   “And this better be good.  Because we're over seventy one minutes in.  And this film is not rampin' up the excitement like I was kinda hopin' it would.  And if it doesn't in the next five minutes, I'm gonna go down to the drug store, and buy a hot rod magazine.  Cos they got the chicks with the boobs, in em.”

Thank you, Carl, your check is in the mail.  Please return to Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

“You sure?  I could, eh, do my Donald Duck impression.  The chicks love it.”

Thank you Carl, that'll be all.  At the Ramstein base, uh, soldiers are running slow-motion through corridors.  Yes, it has been a while since slow-motion was employed, and it's just as ill-used here, so I'm glad director Ian Watson still has The Touch.  A guy says he wants some stuff done, and, uh, we cut back to Epoch II.

--the hell?

Well, anyway, at Epoch II, our heroic trio are moving through the rock corridors toward destiny.  Man, I hate to re-watch this, but maybe Brian Thompson's guys killed all the Genesis guys before they were killed themselves?  I mean, honestly, it looked to me like the Genesis guys kind of cleaned the good guys' clocks, and I can't understand why they didn't swarm on Brian Thompson, Keith and Dr. Hollis and say, “We won, you're our prisoners” and stuff. 

But here, Brian Thompson, Keith and Dr. Hollis are nearing the place of tentacled jellyfish things.  The tentacled jellyfish thing absorbs the three, and sends them to the same white, featureless room as before, where Keith tells no one in particular, “We don't mean any harm to anybody.”  He puts his gun down and asks Brian Thompson to do the same.   (I've always liked Brian Thompson, and I would love it if he saw the end of this film.)

Keith then tells a kind of negative floating jellyfish that they did what they were supposed to do, and he asks it what “the answer” is, and also asks to be shown “why.”

The jellyfish complies, and shows them a graphic of the earth, with a huge explosion in the middle of Egypt.  “Is that it?” asks Brian Thompson, and I guess he means the end of the movie.  I sure wish, myself, but Keith answers, “Nope.”

Sure enough, we get another globe, which is different.

Dr. Hollis asks if this is the future, and Brian Thompson opines that this is “terraforming.  Killing off all life, and starting over.”  He asks Keith if he's right with his guess.

Keith sidesteps this, and says that the shape of the future earth is “different.”

Brian Thompson notes that humanity is the only species on the planet “that willingly kills itself off” and that the Epoch II knows this. 

Then some Greek-lookin' words appear, which Dr. Hollis and Brian Thompson translate as “one...found within.”

They both look at Keith like he was totally the one who farted, and he admits he knows what this means, but he offers that this Epoch thing can't be destroyed and, he says to Brian Thompson, “you should have learned that from Bataan.”

He and Brian Thompson nod knowingly at this reference.  “But there may be another way,” Keith offers.

“Oh, good, because maybe this other way offers candies and small prizes and a chance to win a new Toyota, you friggin' damn movie!”

Carl, we asked you to leave nicely, a while ago.

“Okay, I'm goin, whatever, the only naked chicks in this damn thing were a long time ago.  Wise up, you, uh, doofus people.  And get out of my pool!”

Hunter-Leader, who it seems is the only survivor of his band of Genesis guys, shows up in the jellyfish chamber, and the jellyfish comes down and does that thing where he transports Hunter-Leader to the white room, with no curtains, at the station.  Oh, bad choice, jellyfish Epoch dwellers!  Hunter-Leader is what we humans call a Bad Man.  You'll regret being nice to him!

And sure enough, he shows up, plugs a few shots into Brian Thompson, and then the jellyfish decide this isn't at all entertaining and dump all four back into the “real world.”  Just as Hunter-Leader is about to shoot Keith, Brian Thompson (bless the man) has enough life left to totally plug Hunter-Leader with hot lead.  Eat that, Hunter-Leader!

Keith and Dr. Hollis try to tend to Brian Thompson's wounds.  And there's this shot of the earth, with this odd...stretching noise...superimposed. 

And back to Billy Dee's pad of total surveillance.  Russian Lady shows up in high dudgeon, asking why the plan isn't to attack the French Epoch, and maybe, the value of French people is more than that of Russian people?

Well, she has a good point, there, as the value of French people is pretty damn low.  But, of course, it's all politics, not really any judgment of the French, who, after all, gave us the Impressionists, Jacques Tati, Pierre Boulez, Raymond Queaneau, Francois Truffault, and other people not currently alive.   Except Pierre and he’s pretty old.

But it's still a pretty good question.  “Why don't we nuke the French?” doesn't really have a good answer, you know.   Of course, Billy Dee could say that the French Epoch is good (it healed people) and the Russian one is bad (it, uh, did bad things) but that would just inflame passions all around, and that is not a pretty sight.

Anyway, Billy Dee tries to focus on the actual problem, but politics prevent any rational thought from anyone. 

And back to Epoch II.   Brian Thompson is resigned to being a goner, but Keith recites the 23rd psalm anyway.  Brian Thompson tells Keith that he knows what he must do, and he should, like, get on with it. 

While Keith is reciting the Psalm, by the way, we get all kinds of mayhem footage on earth.  There's one bit where a car is driving along a highway and hits a plot point and goes spinning that is pretty funny.  Not as funny as Keith reciting this over disaster footage, but then, that's a specialized kind of humor.

And as he finishes the 23rd Psalm, he and Dr. Hollis climb back out of the hole in Epoch II.   And no Brian Thompson follows them. 

Well, Brian Thompson dead?  Movie, you've kind of used up your grace logins, there.   Oh well, I didn't think he'd see the end credits.  But, damn.

They emerge, and the hole closes up, and Keith says that the Epoch II is “charging up again.”  They call their own helicopter (I hope it's still theirs, as more plot and stuff is NOT called for) and the helicopter says “We're on our way” and lowers a rope.  Keith and Dr. Hollis grab this rope and are hauled up, just—and you won't believe this!--just in the nick of time, as Epoch decided it hated humans and was burning up stuff just everywhere on its surface.

And Keith and Dr. Hollis show up at the camp again.  And the bald guy who was in Ramstein a while ago, he's now in charge of the camp, and he and Keith bicker a bit about this whole “breached perimeter” and “dead Brian Thompson” stuff. 

Keith asks why Bald Guy is really here, and is told it's none of his business, and Keith hands him all those dog tags, and Bald Guy is pretty shook by this.   “They died saving our lives,” says Keith, and Bald Guy says, “I'll take care of it.”

Well, I guess that settles that, eh!

Keith hands Dr. Hollis a cell phone that he took off of Hunter-Leader, and he asks her if the thing has a speed-dial.  Being a scientist, she sees this as no problem. 

In my mind as I try to watch this thing, since little of interest is happening I’m getting distracted by memories.  In fact, I keep hearing the rockin' soundtrack from the first Resident Evil movie.  I'm not sure why, but, you know, rule number one for people making movies, is that they shouldn't make other people think watching Resident Evil is a better option.  That's just really so plain wrong....

Keith calls Billy Dee, and Billy Dee fills him in on the nuke plan for Russia.  Keith says this is futile but no one agrees with him (esp. with all the politics involved, gasp).  Keith then says what we all guessed a long time ago, that the “torus” (he means Epoch) will only leave when David (Keith's son) is brought to it, as he is “the one from within.”

Billy Dee is not entirely down with this resolution, but, damn, what can he do?  He already agreed to be in the movie and probably cashed the check, too.

Keith notes that the Epoch II wants to see that David is “safe” and then it will play nice.  Billy Dee says it may not be safe for David, and Keith says, “Like Abraham, I'm willing to take that chance.”

But, of course, this powerful and meaningful moment is shattered by the film-makers inability to do much of anything, as Bald Guy insists that everyone leave.  I'm starting to hope he's right because the Earth is going to blow up; we're eighty minutes in and no damn wiser.

So, Keith and Dr. Hollis leave the tent, and Keith says he has to make a phone call.  The guard accompanying them says Keith is under arrest, but accedes when Keith notes that he gets a phone call no matter what.   Perhaps a guy will give him a quarter and he can call someone who cares.  Don't call my house.

He pulls out Hunter-Leader's cell phone, asks for some personal space, and calls the head Genesis guy and starts giving him a severe tongue lashing.   Genesis Guy says that Keith and his family are all blasphemous, and Keith tells him that he and his org are all bastards...that's the whole gist of it.  Vague threats are made by both sides. 

It turns out Billy Dee was recording the whole thing, and Keith tells Genesis Guy that he and his pals and buddies are going to jail, where they'll learn “a new meaning to the words, 'kneel and pray.'” 

Genesis Guy orders the “center” cleared and everyone runs away and stuff.  They leave the computers on, though, which seems pretty stupid, but then, why put smart people in the movie at this point?  Kinda futile, eh?

Speaking of smart and dumb, Dr. Hollis pretends she's hurt her ankle, just by standing there, and she and Keith overpower the single guard assigned to guard them.  (I don't even think this poor SOB got a single line.  How are those SAG dues coming?)

As Genesis Guy and his cronies leave, they are arrested by some folks with Russian accents.  And at Epoch Camp, Keith storms into the HQ with a rifle, and he orders everyone out.  Bald Guy refuses, but Keith has right on his side and all, so even though he gets shot, he pulls out a hand grenade and discipline kinda falls slack among the soldiers.  He tosses the grenade and everyone runs away.  And the tent blows up.  And the movie still sucks. 

But I guess Keith is dead and all, as David (remember him?) pops up out of an arriving tank and looks at bodies beneath blankets.  I'm sure it's supposed to be poignant.  And I'm betting he won't find dad's body here.  Just because it feels like that kind of a movie.

The good news?  We're ten minutes from the end.  The bad news?  Ten minutes is a long freakin' time.  Try holding your breath that long and you'll see what I mean. 

Actually, David does find Keith's body, but you may remember, millions of years ago when this movie started, David has Mutant Healing Power so I'm still betting that Keith will pop up and make some semi-sarcastic remark like, “What took you so long?”

Actually, he says “Hey, cowboy,” and then, to Dr. Hollis, “This time I saw the bright lights.”

And David walks in front of all the blanket covered bodies, and they all get up looking like “Whoah!” and none of them yell for “brains” so I think they're back to life.

And the Epoch II spins silently in the dark of the night as the music swells.  Because...it seemed to fit about now, I guess. 

Bald Guy, Keith, David, and Dr. Hollis take off in a helicopter to go back to the Epoch II.  Dr. Hollis wonders about the defense shield, but Keith says, “They'll never hurt one of their own,” by which I guess he means David. 

“The one from within,” Dr. Hollis guesses, and David gives her a rather dopey smile.  You’re a scientist, lady, and you’re the last to figure it out? 

And it's fifteen minutes until the rings intersect.  We see a nice shot of a cruise ship.  Yes, cruise ships are nice...uh huh.

White Haired General is asking if anyone followed the helicopter.  He then asks if the “device” is in place, and he tells the sergeant-major on the line that detonating that “device” is now his (the sergeant-major's) responsibility.  He hangs up the phone angrily.  Apparently, Bald Guy is the only one with keys to the device, and plus White Hair is not happy about sending David to the site, and Billy Dee starts to walk away, but White Hair isn't happy about this either.  (White Hair never seems happy.)

White Hair asks Billy Dee if he understands what he's just done.  Billy Dee says yes, and he asks White Hair the same question.  Before we can get into this fascinating discussion, we cut to Epoch II, and Keith, David and Dr. Hollis (now on the surface) approaching some rock formation.  Oops, my mistake, they're on the ground near the Epoch's bottom.

Dr. Hollis bids the two of them good luck, and says if they “ever need a woman's touch,” and then she kisses Keith.   We knew that was going to happen eventually, right?  And the two guys move toward the Epoch II.  And David holds out his hand, and the Epoch in France starts to fly apart.   And the one with David Keith starts to fly apart, too, and reform itself into something, and also, in the center, there's this mothership thing, that kind of looks like something out of Close Encounters.  It's all glowing and stuff. 

And the rocky Epoch bits fly off into space, and the Close Encounters ship starts to fly off into space too, and Keith and David look upon it in wonderment.  And the two ships (for the French Epoch had one, too) roar off after each other into space, and disappear into the heavens.

Russian Lady General tells White Hair he can call off his contingency plan (that burrowing atomic bomb) and the newsreader tells us all the soldiers are celebrating, because the Epochs are all gone.  But what about the Chinese?  Are they just going home, too?

Cheery celebrating reporterette says, “The only question that remains, is it a moment for peace, or prelude to war?”  You'd think that might dampen her spirits, but you'd be wrong about that. 

Speaking of which, we cut to those wily Chinese, and the Party Boss guy is having the General arrested.  General says he regrets American and Russian casualties weren't higher, and Party Guy says one casualty is too many.   So that seems to wrap up that little plot thread, and in fact, the President's press secretary is telling the reporters that mistrust about China is going to be a problem for a while.  But she says, quoting the president, that we should not forget, but we should forgive, and move forward. 

And we cut to the monk from way back.  And we hear Keith's narration as the monk is lighting candles.  (All the while the music is all triumphant and more importantly, the-movie-is-over type).

“After the toruses left, people speculated as to what they were. [Since they weren’t actually toruses!]   Were they divine, or just messengers from the creator?   Certainly, they were proof that we weren't alone in the universe.”  Keith and David in a room somewhere.  “My own son needed answers of a different kind...humanity would be calling on him, later.”  Keith and David in a snowy woods, kicking around a soccer ball.  “Part of me wants to teach him everything, so he can be prepared for the battles and challenges that lie ahead.  The other part of me just wants to be his dad.”  Are those things really mutually exclusive?  “I don't know how long he'll be safe here, but I think he'll be ready when the time comes.  I hope we all are.”

And we cut to space, where we see the two Close Encounters ships cruising through the void.  The music turns slightly uneasy, here.  But they just kind of fly past the camera, and toward what looks like Earth.  Back already, you guys? 

And cue the credits, which zip past faster than any credits I've ever seen.  Seriously, you could get whiplash if you actually tried to read them.  There's a credit for “On Set CGI” which must be a pretty cool job, though the nature of it baffles me. 

Just for fun, I played the trailer, which is amazingly misleading.  To start with, it makes the destruction of the space station appear to be the fault of the Close Encounter ships, and generally makes the movie seem...more exciting than it was, honestly.  But that's what trailers do, you know.  It would be a sad, sad movie indeed that couldn't have a decent one minute or 30-second trailer mined from it innards.  I bet you could even do this with The Atomic Brain or something dreadfully bad like that.

Of course, we’re talking about this, not The Atomic Brain—which is one of the few arguments I can think of in this film’s favor. 

Overall, the film just seemed confusing, and while some of this might have been alleviated had I seen the first film, the fact is, I hadn’t and had to rely on what this one told me.  To be honest, seeing the first one probably wouldn’t have helped. 

It’s entirely possible that screenwriter Sam Wells had something in mind when he wrote this, as there are certainly attempts to grasp larger concepts.  But none of those grasps succeeds, so to speak, in coming to grips with the concepts raised.  A lot of the talk (like the religious discussion in the helicopter) is confused and confusing.  I give points for trying, but take points for not turning those attempts into actual ideas.

Another problem is the overabundance of plot to the detriment of story.  You know the difference between plot and story?  A story is a structure that takes an idea from a beginning, develops it, and concludes it, all within the context of the idea.  A plot, on the other hand, is just a description of action.  It’s what happens from page one until “The End,” and its contents don’t have to be connected to anything.

Epoch: Evolution has plot all over the map, literally.  But the story, whatever there is of one, is crushed beneath the weight of all the plot threads.   My advice would have been to jettison some of the peripheral action, like the entire angry Chinese stuff; sure, it adds tension and a ticking clock, but surely there are other ways to do this that might actually involve the Epoch structures themselves.  (In fact, danger from the Epochs is introduced late in the game.)  

A huge, world-spanning scale for your story isn’t always best served by multiple dangers.   In fact, it dilutes them to have too many.  In Epoch: Evolution, we have the Chinese, the Genesis Corporation, Hunter-Leader, and finally the Russian Lady General and the Bald Guy, all impeding Keith to varying degrees.   We haven’t even mentioned the Epochs. 

For an excellent example of a world threat looked at in scale, watch the original Night of the Living Dead.  Here’s a threat to the entire world that plays out (very effectively) in a single house.   Sure, it doesn’t have massive structures rising from the ground, but let’s start small and work our way up to that.

So, ultimately, I’m not sure what to say about this one.    I admire the film-makers’ ambitions, their attempts to do something different and interesting, but I can’t reconcile that with the fact that what they came up with could have been done more effectively, and (let’s face it) more interestingly.   There’s so much TALK in this film that it’s easy to tune it out and figure you’re not missing anything, which is (I think) why the film-makers resort to explosions and shootings and stuff every few minutes, just to grab our attention back.

It all smacks of a magician’s desperate attempts to distract from the fact that his hat is still empty.

 
--April, 2005