10th May2015

‘Bad Land: Road to Fury’ Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, Robert Hobbs, David Butler, Aimee Mullins, Christy Pankhurst, Alex McGregor, David Clatworthy, Liah O’Prey, Carel Nel, Andy McPhee | Written by and Directed by Jake Paltrow

bad-land-cover

In a post-apocalyptic eternal drought, people kill for water. Where it is scarce and desperately needed, a farmer, Earnest Holm, defends his land from threat, and hopes to rejuvenate his parched soil in the hope of a better life for his family. However, his daughter’s boyfriend wants the land for himself, and will go to any length to get it.

The best way to describe Bad Land is… strange. Set in the futuristic, dried out plains of the USA, this film seems to walk the line between western and science fiction. Now, if you’re like me, when those two genres are combined your mind instantly goes to Firefly. This film isn’t Firefly, so banish that thought right away. By ‘western,’ I don’t mean big shootouts and horse chases across dusty plains (although there are guns which look pretty cool), I mean a more ‘stare off into the sunset and think deeply about how hard life is’ kind of western. Oh, and there’s robots, so there’s the science fiction element for you!

Bad Land has an eerie, dreamlike quality to it. Maybe it’s brought on by the slow pace of the film, or by some of the strange characters and dialogue involved in the story. Either way, I found it quite hard to connect fully with it. Stylistically, they were definitely going for a more ‘ye olde western’ feel when they made this, and have done so very successfully. The cinematography is probably one of its strongest points. Even weirder, the robots never look very CGI, always reacting very realistically to their human counterparts. Perhaps that is why I found it so strange, because at points the CGI seems more realistic than the human actors.

Not that the human actors are bad. The three male leads carry the story well, each having their own ‘chapter’ of the story being told from their perspectives, although Kodi Smit-Mcphee does not at all look fourteen like his character claims to be. As a story, it isn’t the most original, and you probably work out who is the bad guy and what will happen long before it finishes.

In a way, I guess this is a coming of age story about survival, and the limits you would go to to survive. It didn’t live up to my expectations, but if you are really into the western scene and would like a bit of robotics to spice up your viewing life, perhaps this film will do it for you.

Bad Land: Road to Fury is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from Signature Entertainment.

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