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.


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DVD Review: Metamorphosis (2007)

Christopher Lambert
Image via Wikipedia

Hi all…

Sometimes even the combination of an amazing story from Hungary in the 16th century, a beautiful actress, and Connor MacLeod can’t quite get a movie on track. Filmed in Austria, Germany, and Hungary, the locations were gorgeous. Add to that the horrific tales of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, accused of killing and torturing young women and possibly even bathing in their blood to keep her youth, and you have some great elements that could have made for a good, if not great, horror film. Unfortunately it doesn’t hit that mark…

Metamorphosis was filmed in 2007 and is coming to DVD on August 24, 2010. The film stars Christopher Lambert (Highlander), Corey Sevier (Decoys), and Irena A. Hoffman (Four Christmases). It was written, directed, and produced by Jeno Hodi, who also directed Black Sea Raid and wrote Armstrong.

At the beginning of the film, we see Constantine Thurzo (Lambert) at the funeral of his brother. The strange ceremony ends with men driving a stake into his brother’s heart before burial in consecrated ground. Constantine wants his brother to be buried near their castle and digs the body up after dark, intent on reburying the body in the family cemetery. And as you might suspect, bad things tend to happen when you remove the stake from a dead body in a horror movie.

Keith (Sevier) is doing research for a book about the Countess and brought along his friends J.J. (Charlie Hollway) and Kim (Jennifer Higham) for company. While on their way to a monastery near the Bathory castle, the trio gets lost at night in the Carpathian Mountains and pick up the mysterious and beautiful Elizabeth (Hoffman) who offers to help them find their way. When they get there, they learn that the monks won’t take them to the castle as they had agreed because of recent wolf attacks in the area.

But don’t worry, Elizabeth knows the way to the castle. Along the way, the jeep the group is driving hits a rock and everyone is thrown out of the vehicle as it bounces down a mountainside. Somehow nobody gets seriously hurt and they continue on foot to the castle, meeting up with a creepy bearded man and his girlfriend also headed to the castle.

After being chased by wolves and meeting up with a monk and a nun, they manage to find their way to the castle and get the lights turned on. It seems however, that they might have done better if the lights had stayed off…

First, let me talk a bit about the good things for this film.

The use of the legend of Countess Bathory was a great start. Anyone who allegedly drains victims of blood so she can bathe in it to stay young is definitely a perfect horror movie character. It’s not the first time we’ve seen the Bathory legend used in a film either. The animated movie Hellboy: Blood and Iron used a similar legend as the backstory for its plot and did it more effectively in cartoon form. My only wish for Metamorphosis was that they’d managed a stronger story based on the history and legend.

Also, Lambert seemed to have a great time with his character Constantine as a vampire. The “Lambert laugh” was in full swing along with the evil grin we’ve seen in movies like Highlander and Mortal Kombat. Honestly, it was Lambert’s gleeful villain that saved the film for me. Everyone else took themselves far too seriously.

It’s never good when I can’t come up with a third good thing for a film. Honestly, I’m not sure if it was the acting, the directing, or the writing that really made it drag in places, but something simply didn’t click.

My biggest issue was the film was the way that it played with time. Once the group crashes down the mountain, there are these bizarre flashes where you see the same scene a couple of times in succession. Later, these “flashes” are explained as Keith’s attempts to change events while they were all in Purgatory. Vampires in this world seem to have the ability to shift from the real world to the spirit world of Purgatory at will. And since Keith wants to change how things ended up, he tries a few times to adjust how things happened.

It was this little wrinkle that kept me from really enjoying the movie. I think if those aspects of the story had been written out of the script and the film was made more linear, it might have worked better.

Beyond the movie, some trailers, and the option for Spanish subtitles, there were no extras for the DVD.

So if you’re interested in the Bathory legend, I would recommend Metamorphosis as a renter. But other than that, unless you’re a huge Christopher Lambert fan, I’d probably avoid this one.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.


p.s. Look for this movie at your local rental store, pick up Hellboy: Blood and Iron, or read about the stories of Countess Bathory…

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