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STUDIO: Shout! Factory
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
• Making of Timerider
• Audio commentary with director William Dear
• Still gallery
• Trailer and TV spots
A dirt bike racer is unwittingly sent back in time to the old West and everyone thinks he’s the Devil.
Directed by William Dear, written by Michael Nesmith, starring Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, and Peter Coyote.
Lyle Swann is the top dirt bike competitor in the game. He rides hard, he loves hard. When he’s accidentally sent back in time to the old West, his skills are truly put to the test! This madcap sci-fi adventure is a wicked fun ride and despite some pacing issues, its genuine sweetness draws you in for the ride.
In the making-of featurette on Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray for Timerider, director William Dear discusses what he thinks the message of the film is , which is pleasantly simple: “have a good time.” Well you knocked it outta the park, Mr. Dear, for Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann is one seriously fun dirt biking adventure into the old West. And amidst all of the action, racing, and cartoon violence, there’s a sincere affability to the film that makes it endearing.
Fred Ward (Tremors) stars as Lyle Swann, a hotshot dirt bike racer who’s got a mean hard-on for technology. Him and his mechanic buddy have tricked out his bike and helmet with a cassette player (hey, it’s 1982), a range finder, and electronic MPH displays in the visor. How this is legal in the race circuit, I don’t know, but it’s cool. Unbeknownst to Swann, a group of scientists are performing a time travel experiment along the path of his latest desert race. Right as they’re zapping a monkey back in time, Swann rides directly into the time-travel-field-bubble-thingy and when he hits the brakes, it’s 1875.
This is the part in time travel films where the protagonist will normally ask somebody what year it is or they’ll find a newspaper and read the date. Something like that. But Timerider diverges from this genre trope and instead, Swann doesn’t find out what year it is for about 40 minutes. He just thinks he rode into some backwards-ass town where folks still live in mud-huts and don’t bathe. The first thing he does is roll up to a camp and give an old man a heart attack. It’s pretty sad – the old guy thinks Swann is “el Diablo,” then he clutches his chest and dies. Swann feels awful about it and gives him one of those old West burials where rocks are piled on the body.
A gang of outlaws led by a vile man named Reese (Peter Coyote) run into Swann and he becomes obsessed with stealing Swann’s bike, which he refers to as “the machine.” They pursue Swann into the town of San Marcos. Here Swann also manages to scare the shit out of the locals, but a woman named Claire (Belinda Bauer) gives him a place to hide (her vagina). Eventually Reese and the outlaws manage to steal Swann’s bike and kidnap Claire.
The ensuing showdown is fun and gleefully indulgent, but it’s the twist at the end that delivers the biggest punch. It’s a take on the grandfather paradox – one that sees Swann basically becoming the progenitor of his own bloodline. William Dear and writer Michael Nesmith (of The Monkees fame) explain in the special features that they didn’t want the grandfather twist to over complicate things – they just thought it was a fun idea.
And that’s one of the reasons I love this movie. It knows what it is: a silly fish-outta-water sci-fi action movie. It’s about a dirt bike racer who’s sent back in time, for chrissakes. No need to get bogged down with paradoxes and theories of predestination. Timerider is simply a really fun movie with a great cast, great music (by Nesmith), and a cool story. It does suffer from some pacing issues – particularly in the beginning – but overall it’s a blast.
Fred Ward is great as the disheveled, frequently confused Swann. He’s got great eyes that capably portray manliness and naivete. The past presents a litany of obstacles for him, but once he’s on his bike, he wheelies all up in the outlaws’ asses and leaves skid marks all over their nefarious plans. Belinda Bauer (RoboCop 2) plays a great rough and tumble female that nicely compliments Swann. The rest of the supporting cast is strong and helps heighten the film in several scenes.
This package from Shout! Factory is highly recommended for fans of ’80s sci-fi action.
Timerider is presented by Shout Factory in 1080p 1.78:1 widescreen with DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio. The transfer looks crisp and clean as hell with sharpness to spare. Fred Ward’s red jumpsuit looks vibrant without ever being saturated. The sound is clear and Nesmith’s synth-score is mixed very nicely.
Audio commentary: I wish every commentary track was presented with this much enthusiasm. You can tell William Dear has been waiting 30 years to deliver this commentary. Honestly, he has a detailed comment for every shot, every sequence – and it’s awesome.
Making of Timerider: Michael Nesmith and William Dear discuss various aspects of the making of the film. They talk about their collaboration on the script, casting Fred Ward, and their approach to time travel. They offer some really fun insight and their enthusiasm for the project is evident.
Still gallery featuring storyboards and behind the scenes photos.
Theatrical Trailer and TV spots.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars