Let me get the positive out there first: this is not s small budget film, and some of the acting is good. There that’s it. Most of the acting is like a junior high play, especially the engineer on the riverboat. It’s really as if she is simply reading her lines off the page for the first time. There is no inflection or pauses in the right places. She’s just mouthing the words with no clue as to their significance for her character or the story. Most of the writing is just terrible. In once scene, a ridiculously gay and cowardly character(who by the way has glasses, even though such minor maladies were supposed to have been “fixed”) falls to his death. Our sidekick half-heartedly calls out his name a few times, then Mark Twain has a coniption fit. This was totally out of character as Twain, up to that point, had been cool, wise and adventurous. Twain barely knew this guy. For Twain to blow a gasket at that point made no sense. And so it is with many of the characters. They are always doing things that don’t make any sense. For starters, if you die and reanimate on this river world, you are not going to immediately become obsessed with finding some chick you dated for a while. There are bigger things to deal with at the moment. And it’s all but impossible to suspend disbelief. Where do they get those clothes, and metal, and intricate machinery? Yes they would eventually come up with things as they find resources, but it would take a lot of time.
It’s a real disappointment because this movie obviously had a decent budget. But they just went the wrong way with it. There was no sense of wonder at the circumstances, there was no normal reactions by the characters to their circumstances. The characters were forced to fit a particular plot that didn’t make sense for them or their circumstances.
If you find the premise interesting, read the books. Do not waste 4 hours on this movie. This is an example of how NOT to do a movie, and in my mind, goes down with Battlefield Earth as one of the worst sci fi movies ever.