Future World (2018)
Some are born to kill. Some are born to rule. One is programmed to save.
The apocalypse is nigh! Saw a trailer from this, saw all the names that I recognized, and went “that looks alright.” Sometimes you have to tone yourself down - all good movies all the time can lead to a lack of appreciation of what you get spoiled with oh so often these days - the good. Of course, if all you ever do is watch the bad movies, you get stuck somehow liking them way more than you should, or otherwise just don’t like watching movies anymore. So I took something that had moments of looking entertaining in a short trailer, saw a bunch of names, and said “do I want to live forever marines?” to which I got no response, because I was talking to myself and I’m not a marine, I just had the movie quote stuck in my head. Strap on your leathers and find a bunch of skulls, tonight we check out Future World
We kick off with narration. It reoccurs a good few times during our story, and outside of the intro that explains why things are an apocalyptic desert, it doesn’t really add a whole lot to things if you are watching the movie. I don’t really feel bad for any potential spoilers here, because it’s about as surprising as an instruction manual on how to make a post-apocalypse movie, but I’ll still keep it somewhat loose as far as the details go. That said, the entire movie can be boiled down to a boys quest to save his mom, and the random side quest that pops up along the way. Why does he adventure? His mom has got a sickness, and he thinks a given fabled place has the cure. He goes out in search of place, turns out the wasteland is full of crap people (at least it has something in common with modern times, am I right?) and one of them has a robot. For whatever reason robot decides it doesn’t like being bad and ends up joining up with the boy, and we quest for the boy saving his mother while he also helps the robot develop a soul. There are a lot of questions involved with this, but in the simple ends of the spectrum the plot facilitates the progression of events and could arguably be said to be a bit better than some wasteland options given that it has a more wholesome and less pretentious main plot than others on board.
What it doesn’t have is the solid thought path of a lot of those others. Despite being controlled, the robot just decides to ignore it’s commands from the controller and go off to do whatever it wants, including save the person it was just fine hoisting up on a noose a scene before when commanded. There is no reason given as to why it suddenly stops following orders - outside of a semi-sarcastic just as questioning response of “perhaps I’m malfunctioning?” or the quantifiable depth of “growing a soul.” You might think it’s an odd wording choice on my part - but whereas some movies that have done the “can a robot have a soul” have put some immense, near unfathomable depth and acting into such a concept (such as Blade Runner or even A.I.), this one sort of brings it up once or twice in a somewhat preachy but not overly forceful way and then just leaves it about. I’m not opposed to exploring this concept in a deep and fascinating way, but here it feels almost as though it’s here to interrupt the boy’s quest, only to try and spin the end as though “aha! I’m the real quest and the other was just a story I was telling along my travels!” sort of thing. Honestly, I think it might be bugging me more than it should.
Part of that frustration allowing it to do so might be with the feel of the pacing. It’s not a long movie at an hour and a half, but there was a few different times where the movie felt like it was a little more meandering about what it was doing - be it trying to stretch out a travel scene with more geography shots, elongating drug trip scenes, or just harmless transitions. It’s weird, because I made a mental note to myself that it felt slow a few different times, but at the same time I find myself amused at how it could do so when the scenes couldn’t have really been all that long to begin with - perhaps only tens of seconds. It’s not a big deal, not nearly as silly as the plot doing what it needs to just to get to the next step, but it’s there regardless. Mind you, part of it could be that it’s usually going to add on a narration for one reason or another, or it might just be music as they travel about - the scenes serve their purpose of giving the impression of vastness or that danger is still lurking about most the time, but it still gives a fleeting sensation of dragging things out. The prime example of this is one of the final skirmishes, where some slow-down effect is used erratically, leaving me to wonder if it was really just my player struggling to read the disc.
On the upside of that same scene however, is that when things are happening it’s pretty good. The opening half doesn’t really give you a whole lot to really feel like you have to look forward to as far as action goes - old guy getting stabbed without a fight, a somewhat hard to get a sense for battle over a car that promptly ends a chase in a crash. The final set is a nice one though, and even if the choreography leaves a bit to desire, the acting involved in Jovavich versus Franco is probably the highlight of the entire movie. Although I still stand by my often-used previous statement of The Fifth Element being her best acting job, Jovavich really nails the drugged up crazy in this one, and it being pitted against Franco’s always ready breed of crazy just makes a lot of the movie more palatable for how short the scene actually is. Our lead guy gets to shine quite a bit throughout, with various situations requiring different acting - even if the character itself often comes off as perhaps a bit naive. Our robo-gal is a bit… mixed. On the one hand, the character is a robot so perhaps it’s all meant to be the way she throws it down. The other hand, however, pops up her walking “menacingly” towards the bad to do battle with a major catwalk strut that looses all face in intimidation. Still, There’s a few scenes where she gets to do slightly more than just act like stone impressionist with her face - I just get the feeling she didn’t have much to work with as a robot. Oh yeah, Snoop Dogg and Lucy Liu and a few other names you may recognize are in here too - and Snoop is Snoop and Lucy doesn’t get much to do as the sick mom. Let’s just go with the acting is good enough to watch but not going to impress for the most part.
But enough about plots and characters, this is the after-apocalypse baby! Let’s talk fashion! It’s here, leathers abound with of course skulls and horns being popular as well. It feels a bit tame, particularly if compared to something like some of the outlandish samples from the old Mad Max movies, but it’s enough that it at least doesn’t feel like a bunch of people walking around in modern clothes. The most high-tech thing you’ll see is a shock collar adorning the necks of various strippers - assuming you don’t count some simple robot innards and contacts that make one’s eyes look fake like a robots as high tech. Most the weaponry throughout is a stabbing or bashing items, although a handful of guns float around with the scarcity of ammo being the reason for their rarity. Snoops hat might be the highlight of the costume department, looking particularly fly while also incorporating the popular motif of skulls in the wasteland. Beyond that, factions get a bit of division given their outfits - be it the bikers and their more typical wasteland outfits, or the Druggers and their affection for gas masks. The dramatic cleanliness of the robot versus everyone else helps to speak of how different she is from all the others, but her costume itself usually fits in just fine when she gets one.
Effects work is there - although not really too front and center and over the top. There’s some violence, it largely looks good or fine, and there’s a few effects applied in relation to the robot - nothing that really makes you feel any other way than most the budget going into the named actors. Thankfully, what effects are there feel fine, as though at least enough time was spent on them to be passable or enjoyable, with perhaps the robots repair scene being the lowest section when it comes to the effects. Audio somewhat gets to outpace the effects work, providing plenty of audio or ambient noises - although largely less ambient as in nature and more just revving of dirt-bikes, which occurs so often it might as well be a natural environment noise. Balancing is good, and actors do a well enough line delivery job that you aren’t left missing words or missing things because something else is happening. The music is fitting, sometimes popping into those synths that I like, but also largely forgettable or just doing it’s job of adding some noise to the background to keep it from feeling empty.
Look, I’m an honest person. The movie isn’t bad, plenty of people who enjoy post apocalyptic wasteland movies will enjoy this. That said, I’d much rather go and watch something like TurboKid - which has some similar beats to it in a few ways, but brings much more humor and color - or most (if not all) the Mad Max series. That said, the battle between Franco and Jovavich is entertaining, very comparable to the cherry topping on a sunday - not much to it, but it’s still a nice touch. It tries a few things with it’s story - perhaps not things entirely new, but some at least a little bit nice in the otherwise ho-hum drag of daily wasteland existence. I’d wager this one is at best a rental for a lot of people, and for a lot of those it might even be more of a “it was on the T.V. so I figured I’d watch it” sort of movie - not bad or good enough to actually cause people to get in the car and go out to seek it, but also not bad enough to be really bad either.