{2jtab: Movie Review}

Timerider: the Adventures of Lyle Swann


3 Stars

Apparently, Back to the Future wasn’t all that unique of a time travelling movie.  I’m sure producer Michael Nesmith (of The Monkees) and director William Dear, the co-creators of the 1982 sci-fi/western Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann in which a motorcycle and its rider are “beamed” from 1982 to 1875, feel a bit responsible for Marty McFly’s wild ride in concept.  Maybe they are a bit disgruntled to not share in its financial success.  Maybe they are bummed to not land Huey Lewis & the News for the title song.  Either way, their time-travelling adventure will open your eyes to what eventually led to the western-setting of Marty’s final adventure in that Robert Zemeckis-helmed trilogy.

There are enough similarities in the films, though, to take notice and at least scratch the old noggin for a bit.  Nesmith’s Timerider deals with a scruffy-looking dirt-bike racer named Lyle Swann (Fred Ward) who unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of a science experiment.  The other, well, you know.  Plutonium.  Anyway, both deal with time travel.  Both films are preposterous.  Both are escapist fun.  Only one was truly successful, though.  The other film – co-starring (as the baddies) Peter Coyote, Tracy Walter, and Richard Masur – became a certifiable cult hit due to its low-budget.  And it is Timerider, released this week on Blu-ray courtesy of Shout! Factory, which we celebrate here.

Writer/director Dear knows exactly what kind of a film Timerider is.  We should thank him that he never once takes his B-movie shenanigans seriously with earnest time travel theories and other cerebral nonsense that could have seriously derailed this project.  No one grasps the seriousness or the implications of this situation.  For a movie of this status, that’s a good thing.  This is twinkle-in-your-eye entertainment.  Lighthearted and straight to the point, Timerider is also an exciting slice of B-movie pie complete with a classic western shootout involving a man on a bike and a bunch of scared townspeople.

Where the film falters is in its pace.  The beginning – which attempts to explain things through a first-person POV shot – is far too long.  Ward is both on and off his bike in the California desert and, only after other characters are introduced, do we understand it a race.  The filmmakers are only in it to have fun, though.  Dear never fully explores the time travel aspect of the movie with comedy or drama and, as if by accident, only momentarily stumbles across the comedy.  The acting, to be expected, is a bit one-note but, like I mentioned earlier, to bring anymore to the table would be a mistake.

To its credit, Timerider does manage to humor us a bit when the future meets the old-timey past.  There are several hilarious black-humor moments featuring an old man and a heart attack and the fact that Ward is his own great grandfather.  He wows the local perish – specifically Ed Lauter as the priest – with his glow sticks and energy bars.  The motorcycle, some thinking it straight from hell, does the rest.  His helmet, also a bit of futuristic mumbo jumbo, is guided with night vision specifications and a LED display would make Daft Punk jealous.

Ethical consequences be damned, Timerider is a blast.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Timerider: the Adventures of Lyle SwannMPAA Rating: PG.
94 mins.
: William Dear
Writer: William Dear, Michael Nesmith
Fred Ward; Belinda Bauer; Peter Coyote; Tracey Walter; Ed Lauter
Genre: Sci-fi | Action | Adventure
Lyle Swann is a champion off-road racer. But to the people of 1877, he's something very, very different...
Memorable Movie Quote: "You shot it. What a bunch of dumb sons of bitches, you *shot* it! A *machine* - you butt-heads!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Jensen Farley Pictures
Home Video Distributor: Shout factory
Official Site:
Release Date: December 11, 1982
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 19, 2013

Synopsis: Lyle, a motorcycle champion is traveling the Mexican desert, when he find himself in the action radius of a time machine. So he find himself one century back in the past between rapists, thiefs and murderers.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Timerider: the Adventures of Lyle Swann

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars
3 Stars
Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 19, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Shout! Factory with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1, Timerider looks pretty sharp.  This is pretty meaningful considering it’s a product of the early 1980s.  The image is clear and there’s a nice level of sharpness and saturated color. It seems that Dear utilized Steadicam technology quite a bit for that point of view bike-riding perspective and those moments look fantastic.  Interiors are either too dark or too fuzzy but – thankfully – there aren’t a lot of them.  There are no real compression artifacts of any kind to report, and there doesn't appear to have been any aggressive digital tweaking.  The sound is presented in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that presents dialogue and Michael Nesmith's synth-laden score with excellent fidelity and occasionally wide stereo separation.



  • A bit tech-and-speck heavy, Dear’s commentary might detract a few listener’s but he’s clearly having a blast recalling the methods and memories behind the film.  It’s a fun look back at the making of the film.

Special Features:

Beginning with a decent look at the film’s production, Timerider’s supplemental material is short and sweet.  The new interviews with Dear and Nesmith (think of him as the John Lennon of The Monkees) are funny and provide a great idea as to the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes of the movie.  Really, that’s about it.  The collection of galleries, featuring storyboards and behind the scenes glimpses, are interesting but really unneeded.

  • Making of Timerider With Writer/Director William Dear and Writer/Producer/Composer Michael Nesmith (20 min)
  • Still Galleries
  • Trailers/TVSpots include Theatrical Trailer (5 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}