Hardware (1990) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

A military self-repairing robot is scavenged from the wasteland and a man (Mo) who fears commitment brings it to his non-girlfriend (Jill) where it comes to life and chases her around the apartment.

This world has the trappings of a post-apocalyptic film (radiation, crappy outfits, cyborg hand) but there is a government and the woman’s apartment building has all the amenities (electricity, a security system, hot water that is more reliable than in my pre-apocalyptic building). A merchant in the first act finds out the robot’s weakness and then Mo learns it (it’s water) but in the climax of the film Jill learns it rather coincidentally. At some point in the film the robot skull’s US flag paint job goes away.

I finally finished watching this after years of not making it through the first half – quitting around the time the slovenly peeping tom neighbor invades the woman’s apartment. The dialogue is trite, and with very few exceptions, the actions of all the characters have zero bearing on how the story plays out which makes for very monotonous fare, despite the pedestrian attempts at avante garde cinematography and special effects.

Tropes: perverted neighbor; little person is a result of radiation; radio DJ exposition; shower lovin’; thermal vision sex scene; phone is destroyed to help the plot along

Toren’s rating: 4.2/10

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Love And Monsters (2020) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

After an attempt to thwart an asteroid impact backfires, rocket chemicals spray the land turning everyday creatures into giant monsters. Joel is separated from his ladyfriend and spends 7 years in a bunker before he decides to take the 7 day journey in monster territory to reunite. En route he overcomes his paralyzing fear and his terrible aim, meets some new friends and bonds with a dog.

The monsters and settings were well-designed and the world was fun to inhabit. I liked that the ending wasn’t schmaltzy. It wasn’t a ‘rescue the damsel’ situation but neither did it turn 180 with the ‘men are incompetent’ trope. Meanwhile, was expecting some closure on the dog’s red dress.

Tropes: passing on a treasured keepsake; radio stops working at dramatically convenient moments; dropping the grenade;

Toren’s rating: 7/10

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Waterworld (1995) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

Kevin Costner is an ‘icthyo sapiens’ with webbed toes and gills who wanders an endless ocean trying to get by. He gets caught up in a battle between jet ski marauders known as Smokers and a floating settlement that harbours a child with a tattoo that may be a map to the mythical “Dryland.” Of course he escapes with the help of the child and her surrogate mom. At first he’s a complete dick to them both but through the trials and tribulations of eluding the Smokers and their merciless leader Dennis Hopper they become a dysfunctional family.

This film has reprehensible hair as only Hollywood (and Italian cinema) could hope to achieve, sketchy makeup (nobody’s buying that gouged eye socket), 2-dimensional dialogue, and hokey action that made me laugh out loud, but it does have rich worldbuilding in the form of consistent wardrobe and amazing set pieces.

Tropes: stoic lone wolf of few words; eccentric inventor; villain has eye patch; heroine offers her body as payment; each explosion bigger than the last

Toren’s rating: 4/10

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On the Beach (1959) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

Barely squeaking by as a post-apocalyptic movie, as it chronicles the tail end of the apocalypse. A war has created a lethal cloud of radiation that has done in the rest of the world, and will reach our heroes in Australia in about 4 months. I think only one of the actors is Australian, and it’s not Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire or Anthony Perkins, our main cast. While our hero Commander Towers comes to terms with his family’s death, he gets involved with another woman and then is sent on a mission to investigate a strange signal from America and determine whether or not the cloud is dissipating. Strangely, the streets are devoid of the dead OR their cars. Meanwhile, the government is handing out suicide pills to all citizens, and Anthony Perkins doesn’t know how to handle her wife and new babymama, who is in denial of the whole situation.

Meanwhile, the Waltzing Matilda musical motif is overused to the point of distraction.

A bit long but very well done.

Tropes: unwanted military promotion; weak women

Toren’s Rating: 7.8/10

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Battletruck AKA Warlords of the 21st Century (1982) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

Merciless ex-military warlord and his goons drive a giant truck around the wasteland, terrorizing wanderers and settlers alike. The warlord’s daughter, having run away from her evil dad, hooks up with a lone wolf on a sweet motorcycle and they defend a settlement from the BATTLETRUCK.

Better than I expected, this was actually made at the same time as Road Warrior so not sure if it’s fair to say that it’s a ripoff. Though it takes place “in the near future” technology is more or less the same with the exception of some fancy grenades and the advanced console of the BATTLETRUCK. The lead actress is uncharismatic and the lone wolf only slightly better. There’s no real chemistry between anyone in the film but it’s nice to see pre-Cheers John Ratzenberger.

Tropes: damsel has sex with her rescuer; idiot toady of villain; traitor in the good guy’s camp; lone wolf hero rides into the distance because he’s got to be free, lady; vehicles explode for mysterious reasons

Toren’s Rating: 4.75/10

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Stryker (1983) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

In a water-scarce post apocalyptic wasteland, a young woman who holds the secret location of an endless spring, and the colony that guards it, breaks out to share it with the world. The evil forces of the warlord Kardis capture her and try to torture (and rape) the secrets out of her, until she’s rescued by a stoic, uncharismatic manly man of few words, Stryker, and his sidekick Bandit. Eventually she and amazon-inspired, pants-eschewing battle maidens lead Stryker and his brother’s clan back to the spring, where a not-so-epic showdown between Kardis and Stryker inevitably occurs.

Cirio H. Santiago relies on his usual post-apoc playbook once again, complete with gangs of sand-dwelling dwarves, a beer-bellied bodyguard goliath and unremarkable desert roads and sand dunes.

The only stand out here is a rare tactical use in film of smoke grenades.

Tropes: flashbacks; villain with hook hand; semi truck full of water; damsel falls for her rescuer; hero dragged behind car.

Toren’s rating: 2.5/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Miniature Crafting Stuff

for Ruin Nation: Survivors in the Wasteland

Road Wars (2015) Post Apocalyptic Movie Review

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;

Toren’s rating: 3.5/10

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Existence (2012) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

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

Toren’s rating: 6/10

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Molly (2017) Post Apocalyptic Movie Review

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.

Ties into 2019’s Kill Mode by the same director (Thijs Meuwese)

Tropes: Villain with hat; keep the child safe; gladiatorial pit fights, psychic powers; falcon companion; feral subhumans; bullets as currency

Toren’s rating: 5.5/10

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