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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

WASTELANDER -- DVD Review by Porfle

You have to give credit to director/writer/actor Angelo Lopes (GUNHEAVY).  Many filmmakers would've taken such an extremely modest budget and made something nice and safe, like a quirky, intimate love story or light rom-com. Lopes, on the other hand, took it and made a freakin' Mad Max movie.

Granted, WASTELANDER (Indican Pictures, 2018) isn't going to fool anyone into thinking Mel Gibson or Thomas Hardy are apt to pop up from behind a rock.  It's more reminiscent of similar low-rent rust-and-grunge efforts from way back such as 1983's "Metalstorm" and "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone", or the more recent "2307: Winter's Dream."

This means lots of desert locations, scrounged tech props, and decrepit sets made from scrap metal and other refuse.  Which is in keeping with the decayed post-apocalyptic landscape through which our hero, Rhyous (Brendan Guy Murphy), wanders in search of "Eden."

With his memory half gone, he's not even sure what "Eden" is, only that he must find it. But a strange cyborg being named Benedict with a robotic body and a holographic computer monitor for a face wants to find it too, and offers to buy Rhyous' services. When he refuses, Benedict sics his ragtag soldiers on him.

But even this is nothing compared to the menace of the marauding group of even-more-ragtag baddies known collectively as The Scourge.  Imagine a group of warmongering losers that even Humungus' crew from "The Road Warrior" would look down upon, and you've got a good idea of how low these guys are.

Fortunately, Rhyous manages to kill a whole bunch of them during various hand-to-hand battles and full-scale laser blaster fights in which he's helped by some of the other outcasts he grudgingly picks up along the way.

These include comedy-relief warrior-wannabe Solek (sort of this movie's equivalent of the Gyro-Captain) and a plucky female fighter named Neve who wants to hook up with Rhyous in more ways than one.

There are many other characters, too many to keep track of, in fact, and I had a good bit of difficulty telling them apart in their big breathing helmets and similar outfits.  The only real constant is Rhyous, one of those quiet, unimposing heroes (a designation he earns mainly by killing so many bad guys) whom you don't want to get wound up since that results in the shooting and the killing and the hurting. 

Some of his "Road Warrior" moments come when faced with having to help those weaker and less self-sufficient as himself, and also during a small-scale vehicle chase that must've eaten up a precious percentage of the budget. 

Pulp sci-fi gets its due in several scenes, including those laser gun battles with everyone shooting wildly and some other interesting digital effects that modern B-movies can avail themselves of.  The nicely-done "Eden" sequence, on the other hand, elevates the film to the level of really intriguing sci-fi for a few minutes.

As an actor, Murphy isn't Olivier but handles this "taciturn loner bad-ass in black leather" stuff well.  The rest of the cast is good-to-adequate, with special note to Sian Vilaire as Scourge Queen "Miranda" and Lopes himself as the freakish "Benedict."

Technically, the film is all over the place, with some sequences nicely-shot--especially the more futuristic sci-fi stuff--and others, mainly the action sequences, being comprised of too much shaky-cam and choppy editing and some continuity that's pretty hard to follow.

All in all, however, you can't fault WASTELANDER too much for its game effort to turn modest resources into "Mad Max"-style thrills with a little imagination and a lot of ambition.  It's interesting just to watch Angelo Lopes knocking this makeshift post-apocalyptic free-for-all together. 

Tech Specs
Runtime: 90min
Format: 1:78 HD
Sound: Dolby Sr.
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Captions: English
Extras: Bloopers, three teaser trailers

Watch the Trailer


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