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BIGGLES, 1986
Movie Reviews!

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  MOVIE POSTER BIGGLES, 1986
Movie Reviews

Director: John Hough

Starring: Neil Dickson, Alex Hyde-White, Fiona Hutchison and Peter Cushing

Review by Joseph Paul John McCarthy

SYNOPSIS:

An advertising agent finds himself suddenly thrown into the past all the way back to 1917 and smack damn in the middle of a First World War plane fight. REVIEW:

I’m no authority on the ‘Biggles’ universe but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t sci-fi or even speculative fiction. But this film doesn’t really seem to care about canonicity, which is one of its charms. Although I did find out why Biggles suddenly took a science fiction bend and I shall reveal it below.

One of the things I both love and hate about British adventure/science fiction films is that quite often they seem to just suggest things and we are all supposed to just go along with them, without any explanation or questions from the characters within the film. Case in point; In ‘Biggles: Adventures in Time’ an advertising agent goes from a dinner party to World War I, after he has been saved by James ‘Biggles’ Bigglesworth (Neil Dickson) he finds himself back in the 1980’s. He learns from Biggles former commanding officer played by Peter Cushing in 1986, that he and Biggles are “time twins” and jump back and forth through time when either of them is in mortal danger.

“Now what the hell are time twins?” I hear you ask, well don’t ask me and don’t watch the film if you think it will enlighten you on the subject. But the way Peter Cushing suggests it to Jim Ferguson (Alex Hyde-White) is as if “Time Twins” is something we all learned about in High School and that we all have a friend who is one. I don’t know, maybe I’m just ignorant, but I’m going to guess that in the whole of the ‘Biggles’ novels you will never find a reference to “Time Twins” and possibly not even to ‘Time Travel’.

The film is fairly well acted and Neil Dickson is a pretty perfect casting decision for Biggles, he just looks the part. And of course Peter Cushing is amazing but when isn’t he? Alex Hyde-White didn’t really bring his A-game to this film and I’m not sure why, but I think it may have just been something as simple as him realising that he’s at the height of his career and he thought he could kind of just phone in a performance and get away with it. Admittedly he does just get away with it. It’s not a bad performance I’m just saying he could’ve done better.

The sets are pretty good as are the special effects particularly for an ‘80’s film, the area used as German testing site really does look like a broken down war torn city. And the time hole effect wasn’t nearly half as cheesy as I thought it would be.

The storyline is a bit jumbled and feels like it was rushed and in fact it was; the original idea was to create a Biggles movie that would be more like an Indiana Jones type of Adventure film. However during the pre-production stages ‘Back to the Future’, the greatest of all films, came out and massive re-writes were ordered. The idea being to capitalize and jump on the old time travel band wagon, hence why the Jim’s time travelling is so… Unique and kind of random.

Another twist in the film that I just found a bit jarring was that somehow during World War I the Germans have built a sound weapon. A weapon capable of destroying walls and making the metal in cannons brittle and of course killing people. But how is this even remotely possible. They could have at least suggested that one of the German Generals had a “Time Twin” from the 22nd century and had learnt how to build super future weapons from him but they don’t even bother, we are expected to just accept the fact that during the later stages of the First World War the Germans made leaps ahead in science and technology that somehow afterwards they forgot all about.

I have also read that the film isn’t even remotely loyal to the Biggles canon but this I cannot comment on, as I stated at the beginning of this review, I’m no expert or even intermediate authority on the Biggles universe so I cannot comment on this but it seems to me to be an enjoyable film. Again just switch your brain off, try not to worry about some of the concepts and just sit back and enjoy another 1980’s time travel film.

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BIGGLES, 1986