Friday, September 22, 2017

Future War

Future War
Anthony Doublin

A nameless man (or as he calls himself, a Tool) (Daniel Bernhart) escapes from a spaceship and lands in Los Angeles. He’s pursued by black clad cyborgs (Robert Z'Dar and Kazja) who use dinosaurs as trackers. He’s nearly run over by Sister Ann (Travis Brooks Stewart), a prospective nun questioning her faith. Ann discovers this man is a slave born from humans captured by aliens a thousand years ago. What’s more, he can quote the bible. If can’t follow that plot, the movie will happily restate it four or five times.

Future War may have many faults, but lack of ambition is not one of them. With a minuscule budget, Future War throws in, spaceships, cyborgs, dinosaurs, a scrappy street gang, kickboxing, and Robert Z’Dar. That is healthy batch of ingredients for any movie. Future War is not just content to throw together some science-fiction action, it is also eager to engage in some dialogue on the nature of God and man or… something.

Aww, adowable.
Out of all the oddities that Future War engages in, the religious angle is perhaps the most curious. We begin with Sister Ann, a character torn between her shady past and accepting her vows as a nun. This works fine, as it gives the character a moral center to act from, some conflict, and a (mostly) believable reason to know gangs, pimps, and gunrunners. The Tool (IMDB lists him as The Runaway, but he constantly refers to himself as a Tool.), shows up and is a character of unquestioning faith. He thinks Earth is heaven, and is seemingly fine with the fact the heaven has no problem letting cyborgs and exploding dinosaurs kill innocent people. It feels like the movie wants to say something profound here about this innocent man coming to Earth to save us all, but failing that, a kickboxing fight in a church will have to suffice.

The real star of the movie are the Trackers, trained dinosaurs that hunt people down at the behest of their cyborg masters. They are created through a combination of some actual good-looking puppets and some terrible looking miniature and forced perspective camera work. The monsters change size from scene to scene, and often do not look like they interacting with human actors at alll. The does not prevent the movie from staging a dinosaur/cyborg/Tool battle that ends with a dead dinosaur falling on an unconscious cyborg only to explode. A C- in execution, but A+ for effort.

"Ugh, I swallowed my gum!"
Robert Z’Dar shows up as a cyborg slaver. For reasons best not explained, all cyborgs have mullets and mustaches. He doesn’t have any lines, but he does get to walk around and making whirring noises a lot. Every slight movement by a cyborg in the film results in a loud whirring sound effect (the same loud whirring sound effect). It turns quite madding by the time the finale comes around. Daniel Bernhardt honestly tries to make the best of his role as the Tool, the dialogue doesn’t help one bit, but he manages to make the character likable enough. As a stage fighter, he's very good, it’s just a shame he spends most of his time either fighting cyborgs who just stand there or dinosaur puppets that are six feet closer to the camera than he is.

Future War is a big goofy mess in the best tradition. It takes a script that would tax a mid-budget Hollywood production and tries to make do with empty cardboard boxes and pallets. It aspires to not only deliver some scares and action, but also make a statement about faith. It fails almost completely, but still manages to entertain. Ed Wood Jr. would be proud.

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