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Friday, October 6, 2017

2307: WINTER'S DREAM -- Movie Review by Porfle

In the midst of a new ice age brought on by nuclear winter, the last remnants of humanity retreat underground (a la TERMINATOR and 12 MONKEYS) and live off of the Earth's thermal energy. Their black-blooded humanoid creations--bald, brawny synthetic humans designed for labor and servitude, but not reproduction--eventually tire of their captivity (naturally) and revolt, resulting in a bitter war.

With a screenplay infused with elements of so many previous sci-fi stories, 2307: WINTER'S DREAM (2016) should come off as a tiresome retread, yet this low-budget but good-looking action/drama has its own fresh sort of appeal that most genre fans should find compelling.

Paul Sidhu stars as Bishop, a former Spartan 7 commando leader who hit the skids after his wife was killed and their newborn infant daughter stolen by the leader of the "mules" (a derisive term for the humanoids, much like rebellious replicants in BLADE RUNNER being referred to as "skin jobs").  After finding out that the daughter is still alive, Bishop's craggy former commander gives him a chance to get his act together and go after the top mule, the Roy Batty-like Ash 393.

Bishop sets off across the icy wasteland in a battle van along with a ragtag team of Spartan 7's who are like a cross between "blade runners" and the brash, overconfident colonial marines of ALIENS.  His main ally is friend Ishmael (Timothy Lee DePriest), while punky young battle chick Kix (Arielle Holmes), who spends her free time reading "Mein Kampf", considers him a washout. ("He's had more kills than you've had wet dreams, sergeant," one teammate reminds her.)

As in BLADE RUNNER, the "mules" have their workers, warriors, and pleasure models, many of whom are now displaying distinctly human traits and are mutating into different varieties, some capable of reproduction.  And again we're meant to question who is the savage and which is the more "humane" race, a question made even more poignant when Bishop and Ash 393 meet face-to-face and certain hidden truths begin to emerge. 

Naturally, 2307: WINTER'S DREAM doesn't always move at a breakneck pace--the characters lose their wheels at one point and must slog around in the ice and snow much of the time--but the action stuff is sharply done, punchy, and fun.  And the sci-fi elements are sufficiently stimulating and thought-provoking.

As if their icy hell isn't bad enough, the team eventually make their way to "The Dead Zone", which is even worse because natural magnetic fields render their pulse weapons useless. Basically, it's as much a survival tale as anything, although interspersed with some kickass action scenes with plenty of bloody carnage as they fight not only regular humanoids but the new mutated ones who are full of surprises.

Some interesting conflicts within the core group result in changing allegiances, while Bishop encounters some other fascinating characters along the way (I won't spoil any surprises by revealing them).  It all leads to his final encounter with you-know-who, which is predictable in some ways and pleasantly surprising in others. 

Writer-director Joey Curtis, who penned the romantic drama BLUE VALENTINE, uses his budget and locations to their maximum effect.  There's very eye-pleasing production design--outstanding, in fact, for a modest indy flick of this kind--and the icy-wasteland exteriors looks great, with sort of a frozen ROAD WARRIOR feel.  Cinematography and editing are lean and keenly efficient as well.
While derivative as heck, 2307: WINTER'S DREAM has a scintillating sci-fi ambience all its own which I found consistently engaging. As dystopian futuristic action-thrillers go, it's an above-average effort and then some. 


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