Written by Jason Flick
June 30, 2010
Life after death has never been so confusing or strange in SyFy’s newest DVD release Riverworld. Based upon a series of science fiction books by author Philip José Farmer, Riverworld was a four hour made-for-TV movie that is a reboot of the show by the same name that never saw light past the pilot. The story follows one Matt Ellman (Tahmoh Penikett), a war story reporter, whose life is taken in an explosion in Singapore caused by a female suicide bomber.
Shortly after, Matt wakes up and washes to shore on a riverbank after being resurrected in some unknown location along with several of his friends and a 13th century Buddhist nun. After a short time Matt comes across a mysterious man searching for Jessie, Matt’s love interest played by Laura Vandervoort. After the altercation he awakes and comes across two sides of the same alien race. One wants Matt’s aid in ending the life of one Richard Burton, the English explorer and the other played Alan Cumming wishes for Matt to aid Burton.
Along the way Matt meets a few influential people from throughout history such as their friends the 13th century nun/warrior samurai Tomoe Gozen and Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and enemies Richard Burton and Francisco Pizarro. The story that ensues contains flashbacks of Matt’s deeds, as well as several run-ins with the Blue Man Group race of aliens, and several surprises along the way.
The story of Riverworld feels like a surreal dream or a giant loop of déjà vu. There are no clear answers throughout the journey only that there are those that wish to end Riverworld’s existence and those that wish to make sure it remains. There are hints of several real world events in Riverworld, such as the Hindenburg, the Genpei Wars and 9-11 throughout the film which add a bit of reality to the whole film.