Trancers 6 (2002)
By: Paul Ryan on June 6, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Shadow Entertainment (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Mono. 88 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jay Woelfel
Starring: Sullivan, Robert Donovan, Jennifer Capo, Ben Bar
Screenplay: C. Courtney Joyner (as Gene Yarborough)
Country: USA
The films of B-movie mogul Charles Band are always more interesting for their ambitions rather than their artistic achievements. High concept consistently clashes with inadequate budget. Sure, when you've produced over 200 films in over thirty years, the law of averages dictates that at least some of them will be good. Sure enough, Band has delivered the goods occasionally with The Pit and the Pendulum, the Subspecies films and my own personal favourite, Trancers. But more often than not, the results have been more along the lines of shoddy fare such as Talisman, Head of the Family and The Alchemist. Time (and rumours of dubious money-handling) has seen Band's output and budgets dwindle over recent years, to the point where many of his later films have been made non-union, on budgets that are less than a state school teacher's yearly salary.

This brings us, with heavy heart and irritated colon, to Trancers 6.

For those not in the know, the Trancers (or, if you live in Australia like me, Future Cop) films concern the adventures of 22nd century lawman Jack Deth (played with appropriately hard-bitten style by the peerless Tim Thomerson) who travelled through time and parallel dimensions fighting to rid the universe of zombie-like creatures called Trancers. Sadly, following an eight-year hiatus, Jack Deth returns, but without the lead actor who made up for the wobbly writing and production. Simply put, Band couldn't afford Thomerson this time. Or decent actors full stop.

In the year 2322, Jack Deth (represented by badly strung together stock footage of Thomerson on a view screen) is pressed back into service by the ruling council of Angel City when one of their councilmen, Jennings (James R. Hilton) witnesses Jack's daughter, Jo Forrest (Zette Sullivan) locked in mortal combat, somewhere around 2022. His consciousness is sent through time into his daughter's body to prevent her death and investigate Trancer activity in the timeline. Unfortunately for Jack, he now has to deal with being in the body of a female, twenty-something, vegan hippie.

And despite having eradicated the Trancers at their source some twenty years earlier (and having altered the timeline as a result) Jack/Jo learns that a plot is afoot to convert street kids into the mindless killers, and somehow depose the mayor of LA in the process. Oh and there's a meteor involved, which looks like it was the most expensive prop in the film.

Are you following this so far?

Directed by Jay Woelfel (co-director of the convention-circuit favourite Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming) Trancers 6 is, simply put, a shoddy, misbegotten mess. Woelfel has gone on record stating his unhappiness with the film as released, which he claims wasn't completely finished in terms of sound and FX. Given the quality of Full Moon's recent output, it's honestly doubtful that Band could afford to make a more polished film. This results in abysmal CGI (especially the laugh out loud moment a Trancer falls to his death from a high-rise window), silly sound effects and crummy makeup. The script (by Trancers 3 helmer C Courtney Joyner, wisely hiding behind the moniker Gene Yarborough) is awkward and confused, further muddying up the already tangled series continuity.

In the thankless lead role of Jo (which was originally intended for Lost's Maggie Grace), Zette Sullivan has to essentially channel Thomerson's mannerisms and it simply doesn't work. She tries valiantly, but comes off awkward, unconvincing and occasionally embarrassed. The rest of the cast ranges from hammy (Robert Donavan, as Jo's scientist cohort) to wooden (Ben Bar and Jennifer Capo) to just plain awful (virtually all of the Trancers). Next to Thomerson's stock shots, the most star power this film can muster is a briefly-glimpsed photo of Helen Hunt (co-star of films 1-3) stuck to a fridge. Sad.

Woelfel manages a couple of okay fight scenes, but the oppressive cheapness of the film (coupled with some of the dreariest cinematography I have ever witnessed) drains any fun from the proceedings. Maybe with a more sure-footed script and an adequate budget, this may have worked, but as it is Trancers 6 is a complete waste of time, not to mention a sad coda to an enjoyable B-movie series.
Ugh. Filmed on 16mm, this is not pretty. It's grainy, murky and depressing to look at. This is mainly down to the film stock and dull lighting. Things look even worse during a couple of slow-motion action scenes, though the CGI (bad as it is) appears bright and clear. The brief moments of stock footage of Thomerson (shot on 35mm) only underline how grainy this film looks. The NTSC DVD presentation is fine technically; it's just been badly shot from what I can tell. Like the other Trancers sequels this is presented in 1.33 full-frame.
Bog standard 2.0. Nothing great but nothing bad either. However it is nice to hear Mark Ryder and Phil Davies' great opening title music from the first three films in digital stereo.
Extra Features
There's a version of this DVD around which has the original (and way, way better) Trancers as an extra along with some deleted scenes, but neither were present on my copy. What you do get are three trailers. One for this film, one for a soft core cheapie called Lurid Tales and a blurry, VHS-sourced trailer for one of Band's lesser 80's releases, Galactic Gigolo.
The Verdict
Good intentions do not a good film make. Even allowing for the production problems Jay Woelfel faced behind the scenes, this is still a dispiriting excuse for a movie. Full of half-baked concepts, poor acting, joke-shop makeup and dire effects, the film feels twice as long as it is and isn't worth your time.
Movie Score
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