Review: Bad Land – Road to Fury
Bad Land: Road to Fury is a post-apocalyptic drama directed by Jake Paltrow and starring Michael Shannon (Man of Steel), Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road), Elle Fanning (Maleficent) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (ParaNorman).
The film is set in a future world where water was become extremely scarce, leaving acres of farmland dry and reducing people to washing their dishes in dust. The plot is broken down into chapters and seen through the perspective of three different characters. First is Ernest Holm, who brings trade goods and supplies to the waterworks men on the plains. He hopes to persuade them to run the water to his farm as well. Second is Flem Lever, the boyfriend of Ernest’s daughter Mary. He also wants to bring water back to the land and turn it back into the green fields his father remembers, no matter what. The third chapter focuses on Jerome, Ernest’s son, and what he does following a series of deceitful events that occur between his father and Flem, over the Holm’s farmland.
I found this film to be a well-told, if slow burning, thriller. The plot is familiar to the drama and thriller genres, but the setting and the actors make it stand-out. With the cow-like working machines, the isolated farm, the dusty desert backdrop, bittersweet country music and the tough lifestyle, the film seems to blend the futuristic with the feel of the Old West, beautifully and believably . It reminded me a little Firefly in this respect, though this is film is very different in tone from that series. Bad Land, despite its almost Mad Max-ish sounding title, is much more of an introspective film that looks into human nature in a harsh environment. Again it felt like a modern twist on the farm on the frontier idea, which I found rather refreshing.
The filmmakers also included a load of little details, which I thought added real colour and interest to the world, without overpowering the story and the characters. I especially liked the slightly different buttoning on some of the shirts Ernest and Jerome wear, and the way the people of the community paint their racing pigeons in bright pinks, yellows and blues.
The cinematography in this is also very good, and shows off the epic landscape nicely. However I found its use of composite shots a little odd, like the film was trying to be arts as well. Whilst the opening titles were very basic, as if the film is trying to hurry on to the story. Nonetheless, these are just small personal niggles.
An interesting post-apocalyptic film, it begins at a meandering pace, but stick to it and you’ll quickly be rewarded with a good solid thriller set in an unusual and well-realised world. With a brilliant cast, including some excellent up coming actors, all turning in a superb performance, Bad Land is well worth a watch.
Bad Land: Road to Fury is out in cinemas on 1 May and on DVD and HD Digital on 4 May.