Trancers – City Of Lost Angels: The Official Nerfed Llamas Review
Hot on the heels of my review of Trancers II yesterday, and then the late night additional review of Captain America: Civil War, I thought I’d do myself a favor and take it easy today. I didn’t want to skip the day entirely, but I wanted to take on a smaller challenge as it were. I am nearing the halfway point of my month long celebration of the storied independent low budget film studio Full Moon Features, and I want to make sure that I leave a little something in the tank as I endeavor to write reviews and commentary about Full Moon, Monday – Friday each week. Today I’m reviewing Trancers – City Of Lost Angels, a 25 minute long short story that was filmed in 1988 as part of a compilation movie titled Pulse Pounders, which would have 3 short film segments. Unfortunately, Pulse Pounders never saw a full release for a variety of reasons, and then the original footage was lost. It was looking like we might never see this miniature tale of Jack Deth, but then a VHS workprint of Pulse Pounders was discovered in 2011, and Full Moon Features had the footage digitally restored. Slowly but surely they have been releasing the short films from Pulse Pounders, and in late 2013 we finally got the lost Trancers segment. If you’d like to hear more about how City Of Angels was resurrected, watch this short vidcast by the director, Charles Band:
What is Trancers – City Of Lost Angels: Trancers – City Of Lost Angels is a short film (sometimes referred to as Trancers 1.5) that brings the original cast and creative team back to tell a new tale for the time displaced trooper, Jack Deth. It’s been a few years since the events of the first Trancers film, and Jack has set himself up as a Private Detective in Los Angeles. His relationship with Lena is strained, as he finds himself stuck in a rut with no money and no new cases to solve. Things look pretty grim for the couple, but luckily Jack won’t have time to worry about that as a brutal killer from the future has come down the line to 1988 to kill the cop that put her away: Jack Deth! Written by Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo (Trancers, The Rocketeer) and directed by Charles Band (creator of Full Moon Features), Trancers – City Of Lost Angel stars Tim Thomerson (Trancers, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Helen Hunt (Twister, What Women Want), Art La Fleur (Field of Dreams, The Replacements), Telma Hopkins (Half & Half, Family Matters), Grace Zabriskie (Twin Peaks, the Grudge), and Velvet Rhodes (Passions, Room For Rent).
What I Liked About It: Tim Thomerson laying down his thickest Jack Webb style detective performance is always a good reason to put a Trancers flick on the ol’ boob tube. Helen Hunt putting in work as Jack’s disappointed girlfriend Lena, and rocking a sweet fedora I might add. Art Le Fleur got to get in on some of the action this time, as McNulty gets to show his old trooper chops by firing off a few shots and getting his very own chase scene. Telma Hopkins gets to send people up and down the line as Raines, the sultry scientist, just like old times. And Alyson Croft is more fun than ever as the hard whiskey drinking 13 year old female version of McNulty from 1988.
More than anything else, I like what the City Of Lost Angels short represented for the franchise. It showed that they were willing to tell stories that did not directly relate to the zombie-like Trancers or the series villain, Whistler. There are no Trancers in this one off story, and the core of the narrative is about a serial killer from Lost Angels (the future remains of Los Angeles after a massive flood wipes the majority of it out) that wants Jack Deth dead for putting her in prison. The villain, Edlin Shock, is exceptionally intimidating and more than a match for either Jack or McNulty. I had mentioned yesterday that it would have been awesome if Trancers had been turned into a circa 90s syndicated TV series, and City Of Lost Angels plays out almost like a pilot episode of sorts showing the potential there was for there to be more variety in the kind of mysteries Jack could find himself in.
Also, the soundtrack is once again scored by Phil Davies and Mark Ryder, and it’s chock full of all the synth-y goodness that you have come to expect from the series. Sometimes a righteous score can make all the difference in the world, even on a film as short as City Of Angels.
What I Didn’t Like: The only minor gripe that I even sort of have is the quality of the video on this short is not that great, which is not Full Moon’s fault even in the slightest sense, in fact the work they have done to restore this hidden gem is highly admirable. It is purely a limitation of the video source that was discovered. Hopefully the original source negative will be located one day and a proper HD transfer can be produced. Until then, I’m just happy to have this short film available to watch, no matter the video quality.
Bottom Line: Ultimately, I will always want more Jack Deth, and this little morsel was a short but satisfying side-trip back to the Trancers universe. The humor and the action are on point, and the character interactions are fun and engaging. In just 25 minutes it covers all the bases, pushes the characters forward towards where they will be in Trancers II, and even allows Jack to spend some time in the City of Angels to catch up with an old friend. Considering the short running time, you couldn’t ask for more. This is a pure delight for Trancers fans, and a fun bit of sci-fi noir for the uninitiated. I highly recommend giving this short (and the entire series) a watch. Trancers – City Of Lost Angels can be watched via Full Moon’s Streaming Service, DVD or as a special feature on the Trancers (1985 original film) Blu-Ray release.
Check out the trailer for Trancers – City Of Lost Angels and see if you would hire Jack Deth to solve your case: