A viral plague has caused the apocalypse and a rag-tag group of survivors fend off nightly waves of the rabid, bloodthirsty infected, while at the same time hounded by a gang of raiders. They take in an amnesiac who helps them look for a cure for the virus and things get complicated.
This movie wants to be a lot of things but it doesn’t do any of them very well. There are the titular Mad Max style ‘road wars’ but it’s also a 28 Days Later hunt for a plague cure but it’s also a plucky family survival tale. The characters are cookie-cutter, and an incongruous mish-mash of style – some of them are tarted up like Fury Road rejects while others are just cowboys or dirty mercenary types. The set pieces are fairly decent and the cinematography is fine. The soundtrack by a California rockabilly band Peg Leg Love is par for the course.
Tropes: spiky cars; cocky villain with hat; useless child;
This New Zealand film starring the lady from Eagle VS Shark drew a lot of ire from folks who were, I guess, expecting concrete answers, but I thought it was intriguing enough. The dysfunctional family are living off the land, hemmed in by a poison ocean and an electrified fence. The woman, Freya, has no strong attachment for the father of her children and is openly hostile towards his father, spending most of her time out hunting for food and probing the limits of the fence. Meanwhile, boundary riders who speak their own language patrol the fence and exterminate human ‘vermin’ on the wrong side, until one of them has his interest piqued by Freya.
Even though the electrified fence looked cheap and so did the actors interactions with it, I liked the setting, and I appreciated that the woman did not have shaved armpits. It’s the post-apocalypse after all, and we don’t care about such conventions.
Tropes: crotchety old paterfamilias; dark silent cowboy; hand-made crossbow; mystery zone
Molly, the subject of medical experiments that left her with psychokinetic powers, roams the wasteland with her sometimes-friend falcon. When the minions of an excessively theatrical ringmaster kidnap her new orphan friend in a dinosaur onesie, she makes an assault on their lair. This colorful and ambitious Dutch action movie is a bit of an endurance test, with meandering treks through repeating set pieces and overly-long oners that are valiantly attempted but leave the viewer as worn out as the combatants. There are lots of wonderfully fun and cool ideas in the film, but with a borderline cartoon tone and pulled punches, it’s kind of like watching friends play-fight. Acting choices are made with commitment, but never transcend, and bold cinematography demands your attention.
What’s the difference between ethics and morals? Eight years after a virus all but wiped out the female population, An itinerant father has to keep moving to keep his young daughter out of the sights of the dystopian world of men. Luckily they always have an escape plan.
Tropes: bedtime stories; preachy old man; code word; walking away and not answering when called.
50 years after the plague-inducing “Cloud Fall,” Gina Carano is a pragmatic bounty hunter who decides to infiltrate a gang led by the criminal with the biggest bounty on his head. She finds herself outmatched and seeks the help of her old mentor. It’s a very Old West style setting including saloons, card games and cowboy hats. And horses of course. The currency in the land is water purification tabs and silver, which is used to make mask filters. Some fun scenes including a raid on a caravan with an armored fighting vehicle.
Better than the imdb rating indicates
Tropes: Flashback to traumatic event that relates to current events, old veteran with leg injury; dragged behind a horse; dragged behind a vehicle;
Shawn Ashmore (Ice Man) and Dominic Monaghan (Merry Brandybuck) lead a group of survivors into an abandoned house to dry off and clean up, and maybe find some food. Little do they know they are marked by a gang of cannibals. Their best chance of survival is working together but one survivor’s secret tears the group apart!
Most of the movie takes place in the house, and while there are some interesting ideas and twists, the writing is awkward and trite. Characters’ motivations and allegiances flip-flop and both heroes and villains act in nonsensical ways. The army of cannibals with no ranged weapons come in small waves of 3-5 attackers that the survivors can easily repel from inside the house with their guns, and both groups make terrible tactical decisions. In typical gore-fest fashion the leader of the cannibal gang, in hopes of eating the few survivors in the house, sacrifices five times that amount of his own forces.
The film is shot in muted tones, on the edge of black and white, with rich red blood sometimes gratuitous and other times unrealistically held back. Props to the design team though, everything and everyone looks filthy and worn out. And I enjoyed the hopelessness of dwindling food and bullets. Ashley Bell is a standout as creepy loner asskicker.
Tropes: building traps and defenses montage; clan tattoo; ammunition count
A scavenger in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, trapped overnight in her overturned vehicle with a dangerous man-creature roaming around, reflects upon her life choices.
I don’t usually review ‘zombie’ films, but it’s not entirely clear what the creature is, despite the fact that it seems highly resistant to injury, so I choose to believe it’s some kind of viral mutant. Regardless, without the post-apocalyptic monster angle this would be a pretty by-the-numbers tale of a rich man getting involved with a pretty heroine addict.
Tropes: trapped with a nocturnal monster; light stops working; radio stops working; twist ending