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

Enhanced by Zemanta

DVD Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Hey guys!

Greek mythology has been around since the ancient Greeks began telling the tales around 1000 BC. Those myths have worked their way into many different forms of media since then, from paintings and Greek literature to movies, television, books, and even comic books in the modern age. So why would I be surprised to learn that it was being repurposed once again in the form of some young adult fiction?

Rick Riordan, a teacher in California with a background in English and History, was well placed to take the sometimes dry stories from the Ancient Greeks and make them relevant in today’s world. He created a hero, Percy Jackson, a kid with dyslexia who was unknowingly a demigod – the child of Poseidon and a mortal woman. And Percy’s world took flight in a series of five books published from 2005 to 2009 – The Lightning Thief through to The Last Olympian. It was only a matter of time before Hollywood caught on to one of the series trying to fill the void left behind by the impending end of the Harry Potter movie series.

I honestly hadn’t heard of the book series before I saw the first trailer for Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief a few months before the movie released. But I loved the idea of bringing Greek myths back into the limelight in a way that kids could latch on and learn while being entertained. I loved learning about mythology as a kid and want to see my own kids gain an appreciation for those ancient stories as they grow up today. Why not spin the Greek gods and goddesses into an entertaining tale for today’s youth? My eldest daughter devoured Rick Riordan’s books and loved every minute of them. So I knew without consulting the Oracle that seeing the movie wasn’t far behind.

Near the beginning of the film, we find young Percy (Logan Lerman) sitting at the bottom of a pool… for 7 minutes! Though he says it’s the only place he feels he can think, there’s obviously more to this kid than we meets the eye. His pal Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) is there watching the clock and making sure nothing happens to Percy. Both of them go to a regular high school like everybody else, at least until a substitute teacher turns into a harpy while on a tour of the Greek exhibit at the museum. From that point on, your average high school experience kind of flies out the window with the fury.

From then on in the film, Percy and Grover are on the run to or from something. We meet Mr. Brunner (Pierce Brosnan), a wheelchair-bound teacher at their school who turns out to be the centaur Chiron. We see Percy’s dad, Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Zeus (Sean Bean) discussing an impending war between the gods. We meet Hades (Steve Coogan) and his unhappy wife Persephone (Rosario Dawson). And we meet Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena and fierce warrior woman ready to prove herself in the outside world.

Somehow the supernatural realm Percy didn’t know existed seems to think that he stole Zeus’s lightning bolt from Mount Olympus. But he didn’t steal it and nobody seems to care. Annabeth, Percy and Grover try to figure out what’s going on around them.

The whole movie is a roller coaster ride from beginning to end as Percy learns who he is and tries to save his mother Sally (Catherine Keener) from Hades’ clutches. Hades wants the bolt so he can challenge Zeus to become king of the gods. And Zeus just wants the bolt back before the Summer Solstice or a war will start among the gods and the Earth will suffer.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on. The three actors at the center of the story – Lerman, Jackson, and Daddario – are thrust into the limelight in much the same way as Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit movie screens in 2001. And I think they did a great job with the roles, presenting kids with good role models who learn and grow throughout the adventure.

Overall, I thought the movie was fun and showed a lot of promise for sequels based on the rest of the Riordan series. If nothing else, it brought a number of wonderful Greek myths back into the foreground of school kids around the country. Hopefully they’ll see these ancient stories as gifts from the past and not simply homework from now on. With worldwide box office totals of greater than $225 million (according to BoxOfficeMojo.com and a budget of $95 million, hopefully the producers and studio will see their way to filming some sequels.

Also included on the DVD are a number of extras.

“The Book Comes to Life” presents a great documentary feature on the making of the film and how Riordan’s characters came to be on the big screen. He seems like he’s taking it all in stride and all of the actors, the director (Chris Columbus), and crew seemed to understand that they were striving for that Harry Potter moment when the world woke up to see Percy’s adventures in the film.

The “Discover Your Powers Quiz” seemed a bit hokey to me and even to my two daughters. They know the difference between reality and the world of fiction, and somehow the presentation seemed very last minute and cheesy with the little bit of announcement of your “powers”.

But the five Extended and Deleted Scenes were very interesting, especially the scene with Grover talking to Percy in the pickup truck about how he failed Zeus’ daughter. That should have made it into the movie in my opinion, as it really bolstered my opinion of why Grover seemed so desperate to help Percy survive his adventure.

So overall, if you like Greek myths or have read the Percy Jackson series from Rick Riordan, I think you’ll probably like Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. As the opening chapter of Percy’s journey through Riordan’s world, I think they did great at whetting our appetite for more. Bring on the next movie!

This article originally appeared on BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick Percy up when the movie releases this week or pick up the books!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Prequel/Sequel News: Death Race 2

Hey all…

I’m a little late to the party, but I thought I’d pass along news that Death Race 2 started filming in South America in February and March 2010. Evidently this film will be a prequel to explain the rise of insane driver Frankenstein on the Death Race circuit.

It actually seems to have a pretty good cast – with Luke Goss (Hellboy 2: The Golden Army), Ving Rhames (Con Air, Pulp Fiction), Sean Bean (National Treasure, Lord of the Rings trilogy), Danny Trejo (Planet Terror, USA Network’s Burn Notice), and Lauren Cohan (The CW’s Supernatural). Let’s hope director Roel ReinĂ© (The Marine 2, The Lost Tribe) can do justice to the Death Race circuit.

I enjoyed the remake of Death Race back in 2008 starring Jason Statham. So we’ll see if the prequel can hold up. 🙂

Here’s the synopsis:

Death Race 2 takes place in the very near future, as the United States economy begins to decline and violent crime starts to spiral out of control. To contain the growing criminal population, a vast network of for-profit, private prisons springs up, creating a lawless subculture ruled by gangs, cold-blooded killers and sociopaths. The worst of these prisons is Terminal Island. Convicted cop-killer Carl Lucas arrives on the Island to serve his life sentence just as ruthlessly ambitious television personality September Jones launches the ultimate reality show, Death Race. A brutal prison yard demolition derby that pits prisoners against each other in steel reinforced, heavily armed vehicles, Death Race offers the winner the ultimate prize: freedom — if he can survive to enjoy it. When Lucas signs up to be a driver, the stage is set for the birth of a legendary racer.

Let’s see what happens with this one – might even be a direct to DVD release. No release date yet, but due out sometime in 2011.

–Fitz

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]