Dark Angel

2000 | United States

In the year 2020 the world is left paralysed when an electromagnetic pulse is released into the atmosphere knocking out all the satellites and most of the planet's electrical equipment-effectively freezing technology in its tracks. The US economy has been toppled, plunging the country into a 1930's style depression where politicians are out to line their own pockets, cops are crooked and the people live from hand to mouth. Enter Max, beautiful, witty, intelligent and more than able to look after herself...just the way she was designed. 

Max is the product of a secretly funded government organisation called Manticore who, using genetic enhancement techniques, had twenty years before engineered any army of children to grow up into the perfect fighting force. Each 'soldier' has unique combat abilities that include enhanced hearing, vision and strength and are taught, as soon as they can understand, complete loyalty to their cause. However, under the cruel regime led by the organisations commander Colonel Donald Michael Lydecker (John Savage), the children rebel and break out of their 'prison' in Gillette, Wyoming, scattering to different parts of the country. Max ends up in Seattle, where she gets a job as a dispatch rider, although all the time she herself has a hidden agenda. Max is desperate to meet up again with her lost transgenic 'siblings' whilst all the time trying to avoid recapture. Eventually Max teams up with a political activist called Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), who from his plush apartment broadcasts in secret under the code-name "Eyes Only", a reference to the fact that when he reveals on TV who is currently dealing in corruption, you can only see his eyes. Max and the wheelchair bound Logan eventually end up more than just friends.

Dark Angel was the result of a co-creation by long time friends the Academy Award-winning director James Cameron and Emmy Award-winning writer Charles Eglee. In spite of being well written and having very high production values, both creators would probably agree that much of the shows initial success was in no small part down to its star, Jessica Alba. Cameron and Eglee spent more than a year scouring casting agencies and college campuses, auditioning close to a thousand actresses before settling on Alba. Alba went through a tough regime to transform her body to prepare for her Dark Angel role, lifting weights, doing gymnastics and going for motorcycle and Kung Fu training several days a week. Although hardly an orginal concept for a sci-fi series, Dark Angel succeeded through a well balanced mixture of sharp writing, high production values, and particularly the sexy, sassy, performance of it's young star. 

Though cancelled due to sagging ratings in its second season, Dark Angel was syndicated on the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States and E4 in the United Kingdom. 

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Published on December 6th, 2018. Review: SRH.

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