Plot: What’s it about?
The streets of Los Angeles have become war zones, where criminals run rampant and the police have minimal success in their raids. The authorities know that in order to beat back the waves of crime, they’ll need special assistance, of one kind or another. A man named Adam Garou (Bruce Payne) has had impressive results in other cities, using his team of agents to crush crime at almost every turn. This renegade squad has immense power and speed, in addition to an uncanny knack for finding criminals, no matter how well hidden. After his partner is killed, Max Dire (Mario Van Peebles) is invited to join the team and while hesitant at first, he is soon persuaded by beautiful team member Casey (Patsy Kensit). On the inside of this team, Dire learns how the members are so effective, as Garou issues a special serum to them. This serum enhances their strength, speed, and senses, but is there a darker side to this kind of power?
I missed this one when it ran on cable, but the premise seemed interesting, so I decided to give it a spin on DVD. I had medium expectations and perhaps that’s why I was pleased here, even though you can tell this was made for television. The budget could have used a boost in some instances, but on the whole, this is more than solid for an HBO production. The makeup effects are decent enough and the action scenes are cool, by made for cable standards. A seasoned veteran of low budget projects, director Anthony Hickox (Jill the Ripper, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth) makes Full Eclipse look like it was more expensive than it was, which is impressive work. As I mentioned, I think the premise is a good one and it plays well here, with some decent character work and twists, though some improvements could have been made. I think this movie is well worth a look, but since HBO has done little with this disc, I’d say a rental will suffice.
The main name here is Mario Van Peebles, who has some solid talent, but manages to pick the wrong roles most of the time. These days, he’s embedded in the direct to video section, but he deserves better, I think. He handles action rather well and while not an elite level performer, he still keeps up in most situations. But he can also work within more dramatic instances, although again, he isn’t good enough to rise to the upper levels. So in the end, Van Peebles is best suited to play second man to a more dominant star, or take on less demanding lead positions. The latter is true here, as Van Peebles looks to be in fine form, but the role simply doesn’t ask too much of him. Other films with Van Peebles include Solo, Gunmen, New Jack City, Posse, and Highlander: The Final Dimension. The cast also includes Paula Marshall (Thursday, Warlock: The Armageddon), Bruce Payne (Highlander: Endgame, Dungeons & Dragons), Jason Beghe (G.I. Jane, Monkey Shines), and Patsy Kensit (Lethal Weapon 2, Grace of My Heart).
Video: How does it look?
Full Eclipse is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As this was made in 1993, I was surprised to see excessive grain and even frequent print flaws, even with the low budget nature of the picture. The grain is much thicker than it should be, sometimes even knocking the contrast down as a result. This is a very dark movie and by turn, the grain simply hits hard and really diminishes the visuals seen in Full Eclipse. The black levels still look solid and sometimes even better, but they needed to be great, which they aren’t. The colors are intentionally more drab than usual, to enhance the dark nature of the visuals. This is a watchable transfer, but it should have and could have been much better, I think.
Audio: How does it sound?
The 2.0 surround option kicks in during the action driven scenes, but don’t expect more than a basic surround presentation. Not much in terms of dynamic presence or creative use of the channels, a basic mix here, pure and simple. But that’s not to say it’s a bad track, as the material is well covered and that’s what counts in the end. The dialogue is clean and properly balanced, while sound effects are well presented also. This disc also includes a Spanish language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains some cast & crew information, but no other supplements have been included.