25th Jun2019

‘Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time’ Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: David Ogden Stiers, Rob Taylor, Nic Costa, Walter Koenig, Matt Zak, Bryna Smith, Jordana Ansley, Michael Friedrichs, Traben Pleasant, Bobby Ryan, Stephen Lisk, Seantos Mcdonald, Jared McClain, Matt Haley | Written by Rob Taylor, Nic Costa | Directed by Rob Taylor

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Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time is a brilliant title. It also seems to be the least popular title for the film given its being released in the UK (in August) as Guardian of the Universe; a very generic title that has little, or nothing to do with the plot of the film, possibly designed to be confused for more popular, competently made films.

It seems to be a follow up, of sorts to the 2003 film Evil Cult – both of which are directed by Rob Taylor, who also stars as our eponymous hero – but I must admit the 2003 offering somehow passed me by back in my heady days as a student in Bristol.

Shocked that there is a hero called “Neil”? well get used to it, this film doesn’t play by your rules. Neil is a dad but his parenting seems to boil down to him making jokes to his son (who’s mum is dead) that he killed her, banter

Damn it Neil. You wildcard.

First let’s get the good bit out of the way… the one goon the joker-lite bad guy has (“Darryl”) does a musical number – that was quite good.

Moving on

Walter Koenig turns up as a silly version of Chekov, he does the voice and everything. Spoiler alert… He then faces his nemesis in the form of small, rubber goblin monsters. I feel sorry for him. It also features David Ogden Stiers who sadly passed away last year but who’s voice work has featured in various Disney hits (Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas and Lilo & Stitch). Sadly he turns up, is quite good and before we really know it he’s gone again and we are left with a bunch of mooks.

It is sort of a low budget comedy pastiche of camp action troupes.. the original Batman series, low budget kung-fu films and shooting the bad guy while he’s building to something a la Indiana Jones (that happens about three separate times). If you like silly voices (with seemingly deliberate lip sync and sound issues) and silly wigs there is something in this for you.. if you expect a bit more from a film you might be disappointed.

Also… it is set in the future for some reason (with some iffy special effects and minimal reasons for showing naked ladies showering).

There is a mad scientist, his plan is to travel in time and steal all the presents from Santa.. then mate with Mrs Klaus

I find “time travel” one of the worst plot devices because it so easily removes all stakes and creates all too easy cop out script writing choices but here the “time travel” hardly gets involved as the writer comes up with reasons the bad guy actually doesn’t travel in time. Said bad guy is called “Mad Scientist” and has a twin brother… if the jokes might not land the film throws some swearing in too, you know. Swearing is funny, right? “Gay” characters talking about “soft and hard” things are funny right? Rusty trombone jokes?

The film isn’t going at all well and then we get into the cave of the goblin puppets, which kills the pace of the film stone dead with a series of strange left turns that leave us floundering in a circle. Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time seems to resolve itself only for us to unexpectedly spend 10 minutes back in 1939 Germany with our hero shooting Nazis, and one time a Japanese fellow on the toilet. We then get another bit, on the end of that so effectively the film gets three different endings. So, in a way, it is a bit like The Return of the King.

Through it all, I still think I could enjoy this type of film.. it would just need to be… better, more funny, warmer, less lazy, less mean.

Is Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time so knowingly campy and silly because it was the best way to make a film or was it that the film maker didn’t have the confidence to do something better? If I had seen this as a first year uni student.. with all that being a first year uni student entails would I have found this funny? Maybe I would, I was an idiot.

Should you see it? No. Possibly a more interesting question – who would win in a fight between Neil Stryker and Rendel? Detailed answers in the comments please!

Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time is released on DVD in the UK on August 19th, under the [Marvel-esque] title Guardian of the Universe, courtesy of High Fliers.

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