I bought the TV movie Thrill Seekers (also called Time Shifters) for $1 at Walmart. I don’t know what prompted me to do it. The movie looked at best like one of those flicks that I would catch on HBO at two in the morning when I was thirteen and at worst like one of those movies on at two in the afternoon on Sunday on UPN (before it was UPN). I didn’t even know if I’d ever get around to watching it, but a buck is a buck and I gave it a chance.

It was surprisingly good. Well, surprisingly good the same way that day-old, unrefridgerated pizza sometimes surpasses expectations. It’s nothing you’d want to make a steady diet of, but it tastes better than people might lead you to believe.

The movie stars Casper Van Diem (who apparently makes a living starring in cheap TV movies that now sell for a buck on the Walmart racks) as a journalist that barely survived a report from inside a power station that was blowing up. His life all shot to hell he ends up at a tabloid newspaper room and notices a suspicious man that was present at the sinking of the Titanic, the collapse of the Hindenberg, and something else I can’t remember. The kicker: he hadn’t aged a single bit. In his search for the mysterious, strange-looking guy in the black hat, he invokes the wrath of Men In Brown Tweed (similar to Men in Black, but less coolly dressed), Martin Sheen, and the FBI.

I knew most of this going into the movie so my expectations were that it would probably be worth about a quarter of what I paid for it, making it worth about a quarter. This was sort of like playing the lottery. The movie will probably stink, but there is the offchance that it will be so deliciously bad that you have to show it to all of your friends the same way that you demonstrate some really smelly thing to them or some gross picture you saw on the Internet. It’s a guy thing. So I more-or-less just purchased in that vein.

I was about ten minutes into it when I realized that I didn’t win the lottery. In fact, by twenty minutes into it I was actually getting curious as to what dark plot was afoot, what would happen next, and how it all fit together. Sure, I was sort of curious the same way that you’re curious what a friend is getting at when he is rambling on and on about a story the point of which you don’t quite understand, but giving such a movie the benefit of the doubt that you give a rambling friend is more than expected!

In the end I would rate the movie as a C or C-. There were a number of ways they could have gone with it but decided not to so that they could fit the big climax and romantic subplot (with Catherine Bell, of JAG fame, who combined cuteness and computer geekery in such a pleasant way as to let the reader forget the implausibility of her character) that was apparently more important. Martin Sheen’s part was too small and you only saw him through static. Given that Sheen was catapulted back into stardom via The West Wing after this, he’s probably not too sorry about the marginalized role in this film (and one wonders if he is trying to buy back the rights to the awful Spawn movie, which he starred in as the villain).

So the movie is neither good enough nor bad enough to make a point of watching. But if you happen to run across it at Walmart, it’s probably worth the dollar you pay for it. Don’t let’em rip you off at $1.25, though.

Category: Theater

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