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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

truly brilliant concept, hurt a bit by shaky acting and stilted dialogue

Author: NeoLeo from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
14 March 2004

This "movie" (actually a pilot for a never-produced series, I believe) is one of the more original science fiction concepts to see production in years. The story is of a young medical student in the distant future, fulfilling his internship on a planet that is so far removed from everything that its inhabitants live a largely technology-free lifestyle. The planet is divided into two halves that are often at war, and as we join the story it is just entering into a tenuous peace.

White Dwarf is part futuristic science fiction, part Victorian/medieval fantasy, and part television drama (having many of the best qualities of each). With many such stories, we get no sense of history or depth to the characters, but with this one we are not let down. We are given fleeting glimpses of deeper things (only glimpses at times because, one might presume, it was written to continue as a series, to establish relationships to be developed further as time went on). There are hints of vast histories for the characters, the places, and the ideas the underlie so much of the story. A fine example of this would be the apparently long-standing and deep relationship between Osh, alien warden of "the Keep" (the planet's prison), and the prisoner listed only as "Lady X" in the credits (played by Katy Boyer).

My only complaints about White Dwarf would be with the sometimes stiff acting and the occasional stilted dialogue (when combined, as they normally are, the two can be difficult to take). Still, special accolades should go to Paul Winfield for his portrayal of Akada, the doctor under whom Driscoll Rampart serves his internship, and CCH Pounder, who plays a nurse in Akada's clinic. Both portray their characters with generous portions of substance and apparent ease. The rest of the cast do reasonably well, only occasionally stumbling over the stilted dialogue. This is most noticeable with Ele Keats' performance as Princess Ariel, whose dialogue is always very formal, resulting in a performance that comes across very wooden. For the few of her lines that are more relaxed, her performance improves, serving mostly to emphasize the stiffness that we see the rest of the time. Perhaps this just isn't her genre.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that this unique piece of work is no longer available on video (unless you're willing to pay $50 or more for a used VHS copy). This is rare and inspired fiction, a must for anyone who's growing tired of the recycled ideas we see so often, and who wishes to see something distinctly different, if somewhat imperfect. As a life-long sci-fi and fantasy afficionado, I consider myself very lucky to have acquired a copy, and enjoy every viewing as much as the last. We can only hope that it will be released on DVD someday, and that it will not be doomed to disappear forever into obscurity. Something this unique deserves far better than that.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Wagnerian space opera

Author: matthew wilder (picqueur@aol.com) from los angeles
25 June 1999

To see why Bruce Wagner is, with Lem Dobbs, the most under-utilized writing talent in movies, see this humble Fox movie of his vaultingly ambitious sci-fi script--a mix of Jacobean fright, fairy tale and fifties, Fantastic Planet hokum that has more brains and bursting imagination in any given five minutes than the life work of George Lucas. The direction is flattish and the budget isn't up to Wagner's sumptuous vision, but the seeds of magnificence are everywhere visible.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A bright sci-fi fairy tale

7/10
Author: gazineo-1 from Brasilia, Brazil
26 June 2001

Intelligent, sensible and original sci-fi movie set in the distant year of 3040 A.D. which tells the story of a young and proud doctor who is sent to a distant planet called Rustia to make his residence there. In this planet, divided between two sides, The Clear Side and The Dark Side, the doctor learns with his mentor Dr. Akada (Winfield in a great performance) about love, compassion and tenderness. Good scenario and impressive performances makes this one a winner.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Kurosawa meets Babylon 5

7/10
Author: Falkeep from Texas
10 October 2000

As many have already commented, this film comes across as a pilot. I have it on good authority that the reason for this is that it WAS a pilot that was never picked up. That is why so much is not really explained or delved into... its job was to establish things to be explored in the series that never was. What many people miss is that White Dwarf, for all of its fascinating sci-fi ideas and set-ups, is actually a re-make of Akira Kurosawa's classic film "Red Beard". Many people I know who love Kurosawa's movies don't even know that one but it is worth seeking out. Unlike many of the other samurai films, it is not about warriors but about doctors at a remote hospital in medieval Japan. The always outstanding Tishiro Mifune plays Red Beard, an iconoclastic doctor who refuses to play political games that would elevate him to the serving at the Royal Court preferring, instead, to remain at his "out in the sticks" hospital caring for the people of his village who need him. Into his world enters a young doctor who wants to do his time so he can then take a prestigious position as one of the Emperor's physicians. The plots of Red Beard and White Dwarf are identical... it is only the settings that are different. Watch them both back to back and you will gain a new appreciation of White Dwarf.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Awesome Mind Twisting Story-line and Movie!!

Author: Poetess X from Chicagoland, IL
16 May 2001

I felt that this movie was an awesome, mind twisting idea of a new human/alien inhabiting world. This movie in so many ways is comparative in world creation and plot to that of Frank Herbert's Dune!! It appealled to me in the same way it did the doctor. It definitely wasn't Kansas anymore! I feel Bruce did a fabulous job of keeping his viewers hungry for more and curious for answers.

I have become a fan of character development in the past few years and I believe all of these characters carried a great deal of merit. I loved Paul Winfield, CCH Pounder and Neal McDonough's work in this movie. Oh, yes! I must agree the story lines for this and Akira runs exactly alike as well.

The one thing more viewers should understand is that a new world doesn't have to have the same logics or natural inter workings of Earth. If it did what would be the fun in that!

This script may not have been a fantastical array of ideas or dialogue but it definitely held it's own. The bits and pieces that were open or mishmashed could definitely have been given closure had the series been made. Also to note with the great participation of viewers in the past w/ Fox and other networks who's to say this movie won't graduate to series level. New things happen every year with tv/cable/big screen that defy the standards of the year prior. Hey, if it could happen to Baywatch, Party of Five or West Wing who's say it couldn't happen here! It only takes one person determined to sell the dream to carry an idea to great heights!

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

I treasure my copy of this.

10/10
Author: myrddinn from Yorkville, Illinois
13 November 2000

I really enjoyed this movie. It was obviously a pilot, but the world it hinted at was wonderful. I've always wanted to know "and then what happened?"

This series would also work as a book series I think.

If you can find it, watch this movie. It is incredible.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not to shabby...

8/10
Author: sakerson1 from Denver, CO
15 January 2001

I still have this movie on tape somewhere, and every now and then I pull it out and watch it. As has so often been stated, it seemed like a pilot to a TV series, which obviously never panned out. Too bad. I love the mixture of SF and Fantasy: a world of dark and light, with bizarre creatures, ancient super-technology, people (and creatures) with fantastic abilities, and just enough science to make it all believable. It's probably not award winning, but it has a surreal feel to it that makes it so very attractive. It would be nice to think that a thousand years in the future a world like this might exist.

If you can find it, it's definitely worth your time.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great stuff, highly recommended!

10/10
Author: LWarz from Lisbon, Portugal
13 July 1999

Ok, so it's not perfect. Ok, at some points it feels like a series pilot. Don't be fooled by other comments.

This is truly a great work in both conception and development. It's a mix of Science Fiction and fairy-tale fantasy, very well put together, truly imaginative and with a fresh, new and unseen feeling.

Recommended. Somebody should release it on video.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

I enjoyed it.

10/10
Author: steed-5 from Baltimore Maryland
18 May 2002

Non S.F. person might have a little trouble following the story. IT is a well thought out story line. As an earlier posting said, it has the look of a pilot film. But all of the best TV shows started as pilot films.

I only wish that they would put it out on VHS or DVD. My made from TV tape is starting to wear out.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good Concepts, Average Acting

7/10
Author: tabuno from utah
7 March 2004

A brilliant vision of sci fi is brought to the small screen with run of the mill acting. This movie contains some of the most original sci fi concepts in a long time, compelling and unusual. However, the movie is hampered by uninspired acting that at times becomes wooden. The potential of greatest is flattened, but the originality of this movie still shines through.

This "Doc Hollywood" version of the medical outback, gutter of the universe brings the haughty doctor into a whole different growing up experience encountering a fantastic sci fi world full of a native doctor with unusual characteristics, a civil war of literally between light and dark, immortality. But the political intrigue in the movie falls somewhat flat within the ingenuity of the political intrigue of "Dune." Yet what saves this movies is the magnificence of this movie is in its consistent and fantastic world that is created...a truly amazing off-world sensation.

Seven out of Ten Stars.

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