Some science fiction writers have a dystopia view of the future, a world where mankind is enslaved by aliens, struggling for their very survival.
With the television series Cleopatra a new twist has been added, mankind looks to a stripper from the 21st century for hope.
In the year 2525 Earth has been taken over by an alien race, Baileys, monstrous machines bent of wiping out humanity. Humans have taken to living underground, fighting against the robotic overlords.
Three such fighters were Hel (Gina Torres), Sarge (Victoria Pratt) and Horst (David Press) are in a battle when they discover that Horst is a Betrayer robot sent to infiltrate them.
In the ensuing fight Sarge is injured, Hel takes her companion to a doctor where he is to replace a damaged organ from cryogenically frozen humans.
One of the humans is revived, Cleopatra (Jennifer Sky), an exotic dancer from the 21st century who was frozen after a mishap during a breast implantation procedure. Right about now you should be getting the idea that Cleopatra 2525 is not a serious series.
Cleopatra joins Hel and Sarge in their struggle against the Baileys. They are guided by the mysterious, unseen Voice (Elizabeth Hawthorne), heard only by Hel through an implant in her jaw.
The ladies are equipped with nothing but the best in futuristic weapons. Leading the Baileys is the heinous Creegan (Joel Tobeck), sworn enemy of Hel. They are added by a good robot, Mauser (Patrick Kake) just to add a little male element to the mix.
Cleopatra 2525 has everything necessary for light entertainment, morphing killer robots, mutants, hi-tech weapons and beautiful young women dressed in far less than formal combat gear.
Much of the humor is the series is based on the naïve Cleopatra trying desperately to acclimate to the new, dire circumstances that have been forced upon her.
Hel and Sarge take Cleopatra under their wing and teach her the finer points of flying, he use of their power gauntlets, (deadly devices that shoot energy beams), and generally how to cope with this world turned upside down.
Naturally, when the group finds themselves in a situation where a group of males has to be distracted, Cleopatra saves the day with an impromptu striptease. Amazingly, there seems to always be a conveniently placed pole near by. It’s a good thing there was a professional in the group when such situations arise.
It should be noted that the group of young ladies is very buff and athletic, leaping and flying about in a fashion that would cause envy in an Olympic gold medal gymnast. It would seem that gym membership has not fallen pry to the Bailey menace.
While the plots for most of the stories will be very familiar to fans of science fiction they are presented with interesting little twists.
Some degree of mystery is interjected into the overall arc of Cleopatra 2525 with sub plots such as a hidden past between Voice and Creegan and a mysterious past motivating the good android Mauser. This provided continuity throughout Cleopatra 2525 elevating above what it could have become, completely dependant on the flimsy costumes almost worn by the female leads.
That’s not to say that the producers where shy in any manner when it comes to putting the actresses on display. Even though the underground humans can produce fantastic weapons they appear to have a sever shortage of cloth for feminine clothing.
The demands of Cleopatra 2525 required the main actresses to have more than perfect bodies; they are required to actually act. Fortunately, the trio selected where up to the challenge.
Jennifer Sky posses an attractive wit, a sense of humor that plays well in her part as Cleopatra. She provides a break in the action with her almost child-like innocence juxtaposed with a sexually charged persona. She has charm that gives her character interest beyond the obvious physical attributes.
The other two actresses here have garnered some credentials in the realm of television science fiction. Gina Torres may be remembered by fans of the genre for her role in the lamentably cancelled Firefly. In Cleopatra 2525 she plays pretty much the same role, an intelligent, able young woman fighting for what she believes in. Torres has a commanding presence on the screen that adds credibility to her role as the leader of her three person resistance cell.
Victoria Pratt also worked as the feral mutant fighter on Mutant X. Again, there is a bit of type casting for her as the always ready to fight soldier for mankind. She plays Sarge as a tightly wound spring held in some modicum of control by Hel. The three work well together with excellent chemistry.
The male roles are mostly in the background to the ladies. Patrick Kake at one time worked as a stunt man in the show Hercules succeeding at what so many of his trade want, time as himself in front of the camera. He does give Cleopatra 2525 a strong male influence and adds a mysterious touch to his character.
Cleopatra 2525 is technically very similar to a couple of other syndicated hits, Xena and Hercules and for good reason, most of the episodes where directed by John Laing who directed episodes of both series and Wayne Rose who was one of the second unit directors for Hercules.
One thing that does work in Cleopatra 2525 is they don’t take things too seriously. The cast and crew here know the type of show this is and they apparently had a lot of fun working on it. This is admittedly light entertainment but that doesn’t imply by any means that it was not well done.
Unfortunately, Cleopatra 2525 was cancelled just as several of the mysteries where being explained, including a season two cliff hanger that never got a chance for resolution. During its short two season run the episodes where expanded from a half hour to a full sixty minutes providing more time for exposition and advancement of the multi-episode story arcs.
It is notable that Sam Raimi of Spider-Man fame was the executive producer, perhaps a big reason Cleopatra 2525 can not be summarily dismissed as mere fluff.
It would seem that Universal is leading the way with television series box sets. For short run series such as Cleopatra 2525 they don’t insult the audience with season sets, they put the whole Cleopatra 2525 series in one package.
The video is presented in full screen as originally filmed. Considering the 28 episodes are distributed on three dual sided discs there is an amazing lack of any compression artifacts. The colors are vibrant, true to a realistic palette.
The Dolby Stereo audio did lack some channel separation but was, for the most part, lively across the full audio spectrum.
There where a few extras supplied including some deleted scenes and a somewhat amusing blooper reel, mostly the actors flubbing their lines. There is also a featurette on the costumes, what there where of them, and the stunts. This consisted mostly of the scantly clad actresses dangling from wires.
There is also a bonus episode of Earth 2, which is being released on the same date.
While the cancellation of Cleopatra 2525 was nothing on the order of what happened to Firefly the series still is fun.
Targeted at older teens Cleopatra 2525 is a set that will amuse and entertain.
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