Bad Land: Road to Fury Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

DVD released by Signature Entertainment

Written and directed by Jake Paltrow
2014, 100 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on May 4th 2015

Starring:
Michael Shannon as Ernest Holm
Nicholas Hoult as Flem Lever
Elle Fanning as Mary Holm
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jerome Holm

bad land blu

Review:

Not to be confused with that other post-apocalyptic Nicholas Hoult movie with 'fury' and 'road' in the title: Bad Land foregoes Mad Max Rockatansky in favour of Michael Shannon (no stranger to madness, if his General Zod or Iceman are anything to go by), playing a recovering alcoholic drying up in a world without water. In that sense, it's more Waterworld than Mad Max, only suffering from the polar opposite of the problem Kevin Costner suffered from in the former. No, not being rubbish, the other problem: lack of water.

bad land road to fury 01 bad land road to fury 02

Those expecting vehicular carnage or high-octane action from Bad Land will be disappointed. There are barely even any vehicles – let alone cross-desert races or Carmageddon style car porn. While it is very violent at times, the emphasis is more on slow survival than it is warring gangs or bloody retribution. Shannon plays farmer Ernest Holm, struggling to ensure his teenage kids' survival in a world where water is a rarity and everything in it revolves around folks just trying to get a drink. With designs on Ernest's daughter and land, grubby Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult) could bring the stressed dad's world crashing down around him. While Ernest does his best to protect what's his, it could be up to his son Jerome (played so quietly by Kodi Smit-McPhee you might forget he was there) to protect his family and homestead.

bad land road to fury 03 bad land road to fury 04

Its title and marketing may be cashing in on the much bigger, more well-known Mad Max: Fury Road, but Bad Land (formerly, less derivatively, Young Ones) is far from the Asylum-type rip-off one might expect. The presence of classy actor Michael Shannon at least ensures that, being utterly terrifying even when playing a down-to-Earth dad and farmer. Granted, his dark past at least justifies my being intimidated by the man, even if Hoult is ostensibly the villain of the piece. The About A Boy star is never particularly threatening, but he does a good line in slime, and we can at least savour waiting to see Shannon punch his face in.

bad land road to fury 05 bad land road to fury 06

A slow, shambling story in three parts (it being split into 'chapters' should tell you what sort of film it is), Bad Land relies more on its setting, atmosphere and restrained use of special effects than it does action or grandeur. It's a lot like Fallout on PS3, actually – there's not much to see and it isn't that technically impressive, but what the filmmakers do show is enough to make it feel real and lived-in. Its use of robotics and future machinery is pretty clever too, in a grimy Star Wars moisture farm kind of way.

It may have the trappings of sci-fi apocalyptica, but Bad Land is a Western, through and through. Those who don't enjoy the genre are unlikely to be won over by Jake Paltrow's own entry, in spite of fine performances from Shannon and Hoult and frequently beautiful cinematography. Bad Land will be completely overshadowed by that other film I keep mentioning, but it doesn't entirely deserve to be. Slow and glacial as it may be, it's classy, intelligent and well-made. The real drought is in story and confidence in marketing the thing.

Grades:

Movie: 3 Star Rating bad land blu small
Buy from Amazon UK
bad land dvd small
Buy from Amazon UK
bad land dvd small
Buy from Amazon UK

 

 

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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Writer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for HorrorTalk and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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