DVD Review: The Lost Future

Hi there!

Is it just me or is there a swell in the number of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic films lately? The Book of Eli, Legion, Vanishing on 7th Street, Battle: Los Angeles, Zombieland… And those are just the ones off the top of my head going back to 2009.

Add one more to the list – The Lost Future. This made-for-tv film aired on Syfy this year starring Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, National Treasure, Game of Thrones, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lighting Thief, Ronin) as Amal, a man dedicated to finding a cure to the degenerative disease making men into beasts. In the realm of the usually badly-produced movies shown on Syfy, this one wasn’t too bad.

In the bleak picture painted by The Lost Future, mankind has been knocked back to stone-age technology and reduced to tribes able to find places to hide from the beasts. If you are bitten by one of the beasts, you will surely become one. And as such, tribe numbers are dwindling.

Uri (Tertius Meintjes, Crusoe, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines) and the other Elders are doing their best to keep the Grey Rock tribe together, with strict laws on where to hunt to avoid entering lands held by beasts and exploring beyond the areas they know as safe. Unfortunately, food has become scarce in the area and Savan (Corey Sevier, Age of the Dragons, the upcoming Immortals), Uri’s son and the tribe’s best hunter, and Kaleb (Sam Claflin, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Pillars of the Earth), the tribe’s best tracker must leave the safety of Grey Rock lands to hunt for enough meat to feed the tribe. Of course, by doing so they attract the attention of some of the beasts and the safety of Grey Rock is compromised.

The beasts attack and many tribe members find safety in a reinforced cave, but some are trapped outside in the confusion. Savan, Kaleb, and Savan’s girl Dorel (Annabelle Wallis, The Tudors, Pan Am) are left hiding in the trees from the monsters. That’s where Amal saves the day, using a bow and arrow to take out a beast who almost gets them. He escorts the trio to where he and his wife Neenah (Jessica Haines,The Prisoner (2009)) and his son Persk (Sam Schein) have been living between a couple of rivers, which the beasts will not cross.

When Amal discovers that Kaleb can read and was taught by his father, a friend of Amal’s, the search is on for a mysterious medicine that prevents people from getting the beast’s disease. Will Savan and Kaleb help Amal retrieve the medicine from the leaders of a city holding it hostage or will they try to rescue the rest of their tribe? And will they succeed whichever way they choose to go?

The Lost Tribe mixes a bit of the far future of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with modern fears of biological warfare and disease transmission to create an interesting combination. It still suffers from the bane of most Syfy-produced movies with moments of bad dialog, pacing issues, and poor special-effects. But overall it does better overcoming these concerns than most recent made-for-TV movies on the channel (except for Age of Dragons which was actually pretty good).

The DVD also includes a trailer for the film and a collection of “Making Of” featurettes that include interviews with cast and crew as well as behind the scenes footage of set building, stunts, costumes, and visual effects. For a made-for-TV film, there’s actually quite a bit of meat in the “Making of” segments. My favorite segment actually focused on the production meetings and discussions about how nature would reclaim the world without a large population in a post-apocalyptic setting.

This article first appeared at Blogcritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Syfy Summer 2011!

Yes, I know it’s still April, but that means May is just around the corner and then June and by that point summer is usually underway already!

Though Sanctuary, Season 3, just got underway last week and Stargate Universe is heading towards the series finale, fans of the network know they’re not the only shows airing these days. Everybody at my house has been clamoring for more Eureka and Warehouse 13 wondering when they’ll get started again. Well, now I know!

In July 2011, Syfy is airing a mix of new shows and old for our viewing pleasure:

  • SciFi logo

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    Alphas starts Monday July 11 and introduces us to a team of ordinary people with extraordinary abilities who go a bit vigilante. The team, led by Dr. Leigh Rosen (David Strathairn) investigates the cases other agencies can’t. It looks a bit like Wanted meets X-Men.

  • Also new is Legend Quest starting Wednesday July 13 – a reality series where archaeologist Ashley Cowie travels the world trying to find great artifacts from the past. Do you think he can find Excalibur or the Ark of the Covenant? This six episode series seems a bit like a real life Indiana Jones, so I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
  • And Eureka, Haven and Warehouse 13 also hit the airwaves again that week in July! It’s a bit early to set the DVR, but I know ours will be busy that week. :)

Also airing will be several new Saturday Original Movies from Syfy. Some of the ones in the past have been real stinkers, but maybe video-game inspired Red Faction: Origins will be more Babylon-5 than bad video game adaptation Doom? Also coming are ice creatures, dragons, killer sharks, and volcanoes. Have you ever noticed that Saturday nights on Syfy usually means something bad is going to happen to the Earth?

We’ll be tuning in to see our favorite shows and to see if there may be some new favorites in the mix as well!

–Fitz

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Book Review: Riverworld Omnibus by Philip Jose Farmer (To Your Scattered Bodies Go)

Hi there!

A few months ago, I received three omnibus books collecting Philip José Farmer’s award winning Riverworld series from the nice folks at Tor books. Somehow, though Farmer’s name has come up repeatedly during the last three plus decades I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy, I managed to miss these books. Courtesy of these collections, I no longer have any excuse but to dive into the River with the rest of humanity.

The first omnibus, called simply Riverworld collects the first two of these classics – To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Fabulous Riverboat. As I’m new to the series, I thought it would only be fitting if I wrote about each of the collected novels individually instead of as a collection.

If you’ve not heard of the Riverworld series, the basic concept is simple until you start considering the scope. Imagine if everybody who ever lived on Earth (emphasis on “ever”) was resurrected on the banks of a seemingly endless river on some alien world. Though healthy and young again, each individual awakens naked with others. Each has a container tied to their wrist (called a “grail”) that, when inserted into a strange mushroom-shaped stone, becomes populated with food, drink, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and other assorted items. It’s up to each resurrectee to determine what to do with their new lives.

But the scope itself is huge. Billions and billions of people are reborn and must find ways to live on or give up. What’s interesting is that suicide simply gets you resurrected again somewhere else along the river. If you don’t have the will to live, can you somehow find the will to end it all again and again?

This is how we’re introduced to various figures from prehistory, history, and future history. In To Your Scattered Bodies Go, we’re introduced to Sir Richard Francis Burton, an adventurer and veritable Renaissance man with diverse knowledge of cultures, languages, philosophies, literature, and who knows what else. He wasn’t without his fair share of scandals however, considering his interest in the sexual practices of other cultures. Also introduced is the infamous Hermann Göring, one of the leaders of the Nazi Party and Luftwaffe commander.

Like much of the science fiction literature of the era, there is a great deal of philosophy in the story. From the concept of being resurrected to the eventual creation of the “Church of the Second Chance,” much is discussed as far as how much of our old self exists in the new body. Are you the same as before? Will you make the same mistakes or can you change given enough time, effort, and reason?

After seeing the Riverworld miniseries on Syfy last year starring Battlestar Galactica‘s Tamoh Penikett as Matt Ellman, Mark Deklin as Sam Clemens, and Peter Wingfield as Richard Burton, I was curious to see what the book series was actually like. I enjoyed the television series, but it presented a view of the Riverworld as much more sanitized than did Farmer in the original books.

I was a little disappointed not to find Samuel Clemens in To Your Scattered Bodies Go, but suspect that The Fabulous Riverboat holds Twain’s secrets for me next. If you’re even the slightest bit interested in Farmer’s world, I’d encourage you to pick up the first omnibus Riverworld from Tor at your local bookstore.

Next chance I get, I shall continue my journey up the River and report on my findings again!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these omnibus collections below!
Gods of Riverworld

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