The Dead Lands – Movie Review by Frank L.
Directed by Toa Fraser
Set in what is now known as New Zealand in some prehistoric, atavistic past a tribe has been wiped out by deceit by a neighbouring tribe. A sole boy survivor seeks to avenge the death of his father, relatives and ancestors. This obviously is going to involve some sort of warfare. Toa Fraser creates a series of set pieces in order to tell the story. All that is observed has a sense of being choreographed and orchestrated. Each set piece is like a ballet pas de deux with two warriors, then supplemented by two choruses of muscular savagery pitted against each other and every now and again the demonstration of individual pugilistic skills of great dexterity. The warriors of the deceitful tribe look as if they all had attended some very well-run and equipped, pre-historic gym as their perfectly-toned torsos in modern day parlance made them look like “gym bunnies”. In order to engage in the fight, the boy has to journey through the Dead Lands where he encounters a ferocious loner of indeterminate age whose capacity for blood curdling violence has been highly developed over decades or even centuries so much so that it is difficult to find a word which even begins to describe his blood thirstiness. Psychopath seems to be totally inadequate.
While the beginning of most of the pugilistic set pieces have a certain elegant preening of muscles and facial intimidation, each one rapidly descends into acts of violence of such an intensity that it is impossible to admire the staged movements which have been so carefully choreographed. They are simply too violent.