Saturday, April 26, 2014

Future War (1997)…The Best of the Worst (Movie review)

Note:  This is another review posted from my Epinions reviews.   I am making a few modifications since it was written so long ago.

I actually bought Future War many years ago at the mall. It was $3.  I figured that it was about the same price as renting. I should warn you that this movie was overpriced.

It starts with three people walking through these narrow corridors looking for something, presumably to kill it. They find it, but one of the three people trips and gets eaten. This marks the start of the opening credits, which alternate between names on a black background and scenes inside this empty ship. You get the impression that someone’s on it, but you can’t actually see anyone. Finally, Runaway, played by Daniel Bernhardt, washes up on shore. He’s a runaway slave (hence the name) running, and running from something bad. If you want to know how bad, remember that the writers didn’t bother to come up with a better name than Runaway.

Killer cyborgs and their dinosaur trackers are after him. The cyborgs look like the original concept was a vampire and the makeup department couldn’t even get that right. The dinosaurs also look like it was a real dollar-store effort. I’m not trying to demean dollar stores, but you’d think that a movie could do a little better than cheap puppets. That’s not even mentioning the point-of-view shots. For the cyborgs, we see a shot with the colors distorted and some lines framing the image. Dinosaurs only get a strong red tint.

For the first 15 minutes of the movie, there’s no real dialogue, unless you count the screams of innocent bystanders as dialogue. Apparently, the dinosaurs aren’t too smart and the cyborgs don’t talk much, so the dinosaurs will kill anything in their path until they eventually kill their intended target. This includes a guy on the beach and some homeless guy. Runaway manages to kill a dinosaur before he runs into a warehouse to hide from the cyborg. When we finally do get to see the cyborg (it had been point-of-view shots for a while) we get to see the epitome of bad acting. Think of all of the zombies, androids, and other things that walk stiffly. How it had managed to keep up is beyond me.

The set design for the warehouse looked like it was done at the last minute and/or with a microbudget. There were lots of empty cardboard boxes filled with thing that, when they fall, make a cheap, broken-glass kind of sound. We even get to see Runaway pull out some martial arts on the cyborg. There was one scene that made me think of Jean-Claude Van Damme channeling Bruce Lee. He dispatches it quickly and moves on.

He eventually hooks up with a sister who’s on the verge of losing her faith and has friends played by actors reading off of cue cards. They can’t figure out why Runaway can’t speak English. (He does pick it up eventually.) The movie takes off from there as they mobilize to take on the threat from another killer cyborg and dinosaur, both of which take a lot longer to kill than their predecessors. As is typical with a b movie, the good guys win and the bad guys stand only enough of a chance to get some good fight scenes into the movie.

The entire movie wreaks of a low budget and is even confusing at times. As I mentioned, the acting is sub par. The set for the church looks like the movie rented out someone’s bedroom. Also, notice that when the reporter from Channel 2 is doing his report, it looks like the microphone has only a piece of paper with ׀” written on it. It’s pathetic to think that someone doing a movie couldn’t bust out to have a fake microphone made up.

Now, there are a few things that I can’t figure out. We know that there’s a ship in the area of Earth; I’m assuming that this is the one that Runaway escaped from. However, did he steal the ship? Was it just some ship that he was being transported on? Was it the cyborgs’ ship sent to retrieve him?

About the cyborgs, it says that they were sent from the future to retrieve Runaway, but there’s no mention of time travel other than the text right after the opening credits. Also, are cyborgs the masters who enslaved Runaway or are they simply sent out as automatons? We know that the humans and dinosaurs are actually from Earth. They even have Christianity as their religion. It’s odd that Runaway could quote the Bible, even though it took him a while to figure out spoken English.

This movie is what other bad movies aspire to be.  At least it's good for a few laughs.

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