My Blu-ray Shelf: ‘Timerider’ stands up as charming science-fiction Western

02.18.13 5 years ago

Shout! Factory

I need to get better about sharing thoughts on the mountain on home video that ends up on my shelves here at the house, and it doesn’t need to be long-winded or overly-complicated.  It’s amazing how often I forget that.  I also want to start including links out to Amazon (you’ll find one at the very bottom of this piece) from these DVD and Blu-ray pieces so, if you choose to, you can support the ongoing efforts of Film Nerd 2.0 as I continue to add titles to the library to share with the boys in the months and years ahead.

For example, this morning’s movie is one of those films that I know I’ve seen the cover of about a thousand times over the years.  “Timerider” has been a home video mainstay since not long after its 1982 theatrical release, and for some reason, I’ve always put it off as one of those “that looks fun on some rainy afternoon” movies.  Finally arriving on Blu-ray seems like a good enough excuse to finally watch it, and my first observation is that this is probably as good a print of this particular title as you are every likely to see.

I had no idea this was co-written and directed by William Dear, who was also responsible for the late-’80s Amblin’ film “Harry and the Hendersons,” or that producer Michael Nesmith was also a co-writer.  The film is a somewhat goofy adventure film about a motorcycle racer who accidentally rides into the middle of a test of a time machine.  He ends up in the Old West, where he squares off against a gang of bloodthirsty bandits made up of Peter Coyote, Tracey Walter, and, as unlikely as it sounds, Richard Masur.

Fred Ward, who starred in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins” a few years later, is cast here as Lyle Swann, the motorcycle racer, and the longer full-length title of this film seemed to imply that this was not meant to be the only adventure that Lyle Swann would have.  Ward never did have much luck with franchises, though, and while there is some charm to this one, I am not shocked to see that it ended up being a stand-alone.  There’s really nowhere to go after this story, which primarily concerns the efforts by Porter Reese (Coyote) to get his hands on Swann’s motorcycle.  He never really explains what he’s going to do with it, but since he’s the head of a gang of thieves, one can imagine it’s probably not for the most selfless of reasons.

It’s pretty low-key as action movies go, and it’s got a twist ending you’ll see coming a mile away, but Fred Ward’s bewilderment is fun, L.Q. Jones seems to show up from another much more serious Western looking for blood, Peter Coyote plays the bad guy with a good deal of visible pleasure, and 1982-era Belinda Bauer is stunning as the female lead.  The picture quality is solid if unexceptional, and the Blu-ray is at its best in the moments that involve large expanses of sky or desert. The sound is also as strong as I believe it’s ever going to be on a home video edition of the film.

This is just one more example of the way Shout! Factory remains an industry leader.  They not only license titles like this from MGM, but they put them out without resorting to the “special limited collector’s edition” model that Twilight Time uses.  Ultimately, I may not love “Timerider,” but we live in an age of nostalgia, and I am sure there are viewers who grew up loving this movie who will flip out when they see how well it’s been treated here.


“Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann” arrives on Blu-ray March 19, 2013.

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