Post apocalyptic fiction has always had its share of “proper” literary authors giving it a go. Russell Hoban’s “Riddley Walker”, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and Will Self’s “The Book of Dave” are all fascinating and deal with it in different ways, but what none of them do is have giant mutated voles attack the sexy heroes of the piece while they’re on a quest for magic yellow powder. Fools!
A group of people in leathers (men) and sexy bra top / hot pants combos (women) believe themselves to be the last survivors of a biochemical holocaust that wiped out humanity and caused normal animals to mutate, and the beginning of the film has them on a hunt, with the gender divide of hunter-gathering firmly in place. Also knocking about are mutant humans, doing a decent impression of the orcs from “Lord of the Rings”, who can turn humans into one of them just by breathing in their general direction (although biting is faster). The mutants decide to full-on attack one day, and that kicks off the adventure – as the women, elders and extras are trapped in a cave with the mutants outside, our three heroes set off to find something or someone that can help. And have sort-of love triangle adventures!
I think this would have worked a great deal better as a mini-series. Obviously, they find more people – Sean Bean is a Protector, and there’s a bunch more protectors too, although who they’re “employed” by and who they’re protecting is never made clear. A day’s gentle floating down the river brings them to a big island city (which I think is supposed to be Manhattan, but not sure) and that place is absolutely packed with people. Okay, I appreciate it would be difficult, but Manhattan looks like it’s a good century or more removed from the last time anyone did any repairs on it, and no-one made it as far as the National Park down the road? Not even to hunt? Everything is way too close together here – understandable when you’ve only got 90 minutes, but still.
Other than that, it’s a pretty decent film. Sean Bean could do this sort of part in his sleep, of course, but the eye candy (for all persuasions) can act, too – most credits to Eleanor Tomlinson as Miru in a pretty thankless role, and Corey Sevier as doomed hero Savan. It looks great, too, so someone spent a serious amount of money on this, although I discover it’s a SyFy Channel movie? They must have found some fantastic ruins they got to use for free, then, because a lot of it is either real or the best CGI ever. The mutant makeup is occasionally extremely ropey (don’t look at the guys in the background, it’ll ruin the illusion) but that’s really the worst thing I can say about the technical side.
This has got to go in the win column for SyFy, despite it leaning a little too heavily on its post-apocalyptic Lord of the Rings plotline. If it’s on, give it a go.
Rating: thumbs up