Monday, July 07, 2014

20 Years After (2008)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Epinions has done a few first-review promotions.  This probably works well for most categories.  I’d imagine that there are a lot of books out there that haven’t been reviewed yet because the category doesn’t pay well.  I know this to be the case with movies, but movies at least tend to be more popular.  For most people, it’s easier to sit passively for two hours than it is to spend the better part of a day actively comprehending text.  I imagine the day when all we have left unreviewed in movies are the movies no one wants to pay to watch.  One of those movies could have been 20 Years After had it not been for Netflix’s streaming service.

It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world.  Humanity has been wiped out by nuclear blasts, plague, famine, locusts and the like.  (We know this because a voice-over explanation tells us so.)  20 years have passed since the recovery began.  15 years have passed since anyone gave birth.  For the purposes of the story, there seem to be three main groups.  You have a mother and daughter who seem to be squatting in a doctor’s house.  There’s also the camp of bad guys who seem to be interested in capturing the daughter‘s soon-to-be-born baby.  Then, there’s a camp of people that are just trying to get by.  We also have Michael on the Radio, a guy who sporadically takes to the airwaves to give people hope.

This is the end of anything that makes any sort of sense.  Take, for instance, Dr. Samuel Singleton. He’s the guy that finds the mother and daughter in his house.  He said that he went out for a while, but I get the impression that they had been living there for a while.  He knows that they’re out of bullets.  He even gives the date of the last bullet that the mother used.  He even pulls out a ventriloquist dummy and starts doing a little act  I have to wonder why he waited so long to come back.

Also, it looks like there’s a water-collection system that dumps the water into the toilet.  This is not what I would consider the ideal place to keep my water.  Even if it was, I think I’d make sure not to put anything in there.  The mother seems to not mind keeping their pet fish there.

Also, we have the daughter, Sarah.  She’s the first pregnant woman in 15 years.  Since it’s been 20 years since the end of the plagues and stuff, this means that people weren't having kids for five years.  At least with movies like Children of Men, we find out that people can’t have children.  Here, we’re left to infer that people just gave up.

This leads us to the second group of people.  The evil, crazy bad guys that are led by a woman.  She has a guy that she sends out to get the daughter, although he fails repeatedly.  He has this friend/lackey that has some sort of disfigurement, although all he seems to do is stand around and act sad when the evil woman does something bad to his friend.

Eventually, Singleton sets out with the mother and daughter.  Around the same time, Michael sets off with a new-found friend.  They all end up at this abandoned rock quarry where the third group is just trying to get by.  They have all sorts of neat stuff, like cars that don’t quite work and a blue tree, which is just a dead tree with a bunch of blue bottles hanging from it.

The Evil Woman sends her guy to make one more attempt to get Sarah.  When that fails, Sarah realizes that a cave is no place to have her kid.  She sets out with her mother and Michael in the one truck that someone managed to get working.  I have no idea where anyone found the parts or managed to get gas.  You’d think that the gas in the tank would have either evaporated or at least gone bad after 20 years.

Still, Evil Woman is so disappointed that she cuts off a piece of her errand boy’s ear and sets off to finish the job herself.  Somehow, she knows where Sarah is going.  She puts herself along Sarah’s path, making it look like she and two women are in need of help.  They manage to find their way to a tall building that happens to have a guy dressed vaguely like a doctor.  Yes, they happen upon the one person that can help deliver a baby.  At least, I think so.  Oh, and he also has a working radio station upstairs.

When the supposed-doctor guy sees Dr. Singleton’s dummy, he starts doing an act of his own.  He even starts with the same joke.  Well, to make a weird story short, Sarah gives birth to a healthy baby.  Shortly thereafter, Evil Woman poisons Sarah and her mother.  Michael, who’s upstairs doing a radio show, has been knocked out.  Rather than head for the hills with the baby she wanted so much, Evil Woman hangs around to gloat.  If you’ve seen enough bad movies, you know that Michael wakes up and dispatches with Evil Woman.  Mother, daughter and now granddaughter are set to make the world a better place through hope.  Michael is now broadcasting to a (presumably) wider audience.  All is right in the post-apocalyptic world.

This is the epitome of bad movies with a lot of potential.  You know when a parent or teacher tells you to put some effort into something?  This is what you get when you don’t put much effort into something.  We have a lot of actors that have been in other things. Granted, it’s mostly TV and only one actor looked familiar, but we do have some talent here.  The acting was flat.

The production values seemed to be on par with a made-for-TV movie.  However, there is very minimal plot.  You may wonder why we need plot twists.  It seems like nothing can be that simple.  This is what you get when you go for as few plot twists as possible.  For the first hour, it’s just a bunch of people doing stuff for no apparent reason.

We don’t know who the mother and daughter are or why they're so special other than the daughter being pregnant.  We have no idea why the Evil Woman wants the baby so badly.  How does she benefit from no one having hope?  How does one baby bring hope that easily?  For that matter, most people to seem react to a pregnant woman by saying something like, “Wow!  A pregnant woman!  I’ve never seen a pregnant woman before.”  I also think that Errand Boy was supposed to be Sarah’s brother, but I couldn’t be sure.

The movie looks like someone brought this project to a studio, but didn’t get enough money.  Through a combination of initial apathy and the money running out, we got this.  If it had a decent script, it might have gotten enough funding to make a decent movie.  It could have even been made into a TV show like Revolution.  TV shows like that so rarely explore beyond a limited scope.  How cool would it be to have a small crew exploring the vast wasteland?

As I said, I found this movie among Netflix’s collection of movies that it allows you to stream online.  I think this was part of their We Didn’t Have to Pay Much For This, so We’re Inflicting it on an Unsuspecting Public collection.  (You’ll see this in any sort of on-demand service.  Since Netflix can only afford so much for streaming rights, they’ll get a few new releases, which are probably expensive, and spend the rest on as many cheap titles as they can get.)

This isn’t even one of those movies I can recommend to see how bad it is.  Even if you have nothing to do for an hour and a half, there are better things to do.  Maybe if you’re looking to punish a boyfriend you’re mad at, this might work.  Then again, it might just be what causes him to break up with you.

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