Thursday, May 3, 2018

Review of FUTURE WORLD: Skewed Search for Soul

May 3, 2018

Of the many films James Franco both directed and acted in, the first I've seen were "As I Lay Dying" (2013) and "The Sound and the Fury" (2014), both of them very serious, very slow dramas adapted from novels by William Faulkner. While these may try the patience of viewers because of their pace and complexity, Franco actually did Faulkner justice.

The last one I saw was "The Disaster Artist" (2017), a comedy about a true-to-life bad movie "The Room" and the odd process how it was directed by Tommy Wiseau (played by Franco himself). I did not like its weirdness that much, but it was critically-acclaimed in the US, even winning Franco a Best Actor in a Comedy from the Golden Globes. 

This latest one, Franco not only directs and stars, he is also responsible for the story. Set in a post-apocalyptic future in the Western USA.  It was a time when robots and artificial intelligence were the "synthetic messiahs," but most of humankind had been wiped out by a "red fever" ushering in a new Dark Ages. In the desolate wilderness, violent gangs of hooligans, like that of The Warlord (James Franco), terrorized the land.

Elsewhere, in an Oasis, a Queen (Lucy Liu) lay dying, so her son Prince (Jeffrey Wahlberg) had to go on a quest for the medicine needed for her to get better. This can be found supposedly on the shore of a dying sea, known as Paradise Beach. However, along the way, Prince would have to encounter the deadly challenges set by the Love Lord (Snoop Dogg), the Druglord (Milla Jovovich) and of course, the Warlord himself.

The whole setting with the desert sand dunes and the motorcycle-riding gangsters felt lifted right from the "Mad Max" films.  The production designer Eve McCarney must have had a field day with the way she decorated the Oasis with dainty finery, the Love Town with bright neon lights, and the Druglord's fighting arena with splattered blood. The costume designers David Page and Jonny Pray spent a lot of thought on the leather outfits of the gangsters.

The acting is generally of the hammy, over-the-top type for almost everyone, most especially James Franco. His Warlord had such a rabidly crazy delivery of cheesy lines fulfilled their cringe potential. He was clearly having fun with his wild character. Milla Jovovich also had some pretty corny lines to say, but at least she kept everything within her moody character. Despite her top billing, Lucy Liu had nothing much to do but lie in bed sick. Snoop Dogg's best scene as Love Lord actually came midway into the closing credits.

His role as Prince may not necessarily add much heft to the promising filmography of young lead actor Patrick Wahlberg (yes, Mark's and Donny's nephew). He was not ashamed to contort his face into some rather unflattering expressions. Suki Waterhouse gave her silky voice as the narrator, Ash, an android revived by the Warlord to do his every bidding, but was also in search of her own soul. Margarita Levieva had a marked role as Lei, Druglord's minion who crossed a sensitive line with her boss.

This film is rated R-16 by the MTRCB for bloody violence (fight scenes with hacking and stabbing) and sexy scenes (topless dancers at the Love Town, along with some girl-to-girl action).  It played out and felt like a B-movie, just a film for shallow thrills to kill extra time, with no real intellectual stimulation or challenge to expect. 4/10. 

1 comment:

  1. My husband and I watched the movie last night and boy did we regret watching it in the big screen. My husband found it to be a big "disappointment". It was a waste of time and of money especially since we don't really have time to get out and go see a movie. Maybe we should have just watched Midnight Sun, or the Avengers (which we were both not interested in). Anyway, I'm glad I found someone who shares my sentiments on the movie. I really think it sucked big time. Out of 5 stars, I'll give it have a star.