My rating: 7/10
Based rather loosely on the brilliant Riverworld series of sci-fi books by Philip José Farmer (see Amazon links below), this was originally intended as a pilot for a TV series – so of course it ends prematurely. The mystery of what the Riverworld is and who made it, and why, is not solved in this episode. The series was never completed, so you’ll just have to read the books if you want the full story. Also, much of the plot of the first two books in the series are thrown in and stirred up here, and the star character changes from the famous explorer Sir Richard Burton (not the actor) to some future American astronaut, the reformed Hermann Goering changes into the unreformed emperor Nero, and so on, and on, and on, but overall, it is a very worthwhile 89 minutes. If you like this movie, I think you will certainly like the books if sci-fi involving real historical characters is your thing. This is the 2003 adaptation. Another was made in 2010 but I haven’t seen it, and as far as I know, no series has emerged yet.
The idea of the story is that everyone who ever lived, now and up to the date that the Earth was destroyed by an asteroid collision in 2039, is resurrected on a new world consisting of one long river winding between impassable mountains. They don’t know how, or by whom, or why. It is something like the TV series Lost perhaps, but, I think, with much more interesting characters: since everybody who ever lived is on this world somewhere, a lot of famous and especially infamous people from history crop up and start to cause trouble…
I can’t embed the movie, but you can watch it here: Riverworld (2003)
An NTSC DVD of this movie may be available from Amazon:
The first book in the series is ‘To Your Scattered Bodies Go’, by Philip José Farmer: