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Jeff Dylan Graham
In the future Saturn's moon of Titan houses a prison where Earth's worst criminals are kept awaiting their return to Earth for trial and execution. One of those criminals, Python Diamond, is being flown back to Earth, escorted by five members of the military police. Upon their return to Earth, they find that a cataclysmic nuclear war has reduced the world to a near-lifeless husk. Searching for survivors and any clue as to the cause of the destruction leads the six to a warehouse bunker housing scientists who constitute Earth's last remaining hope for the future. Unfortunately, their landing spacecraft drew the attention of one of the gangs that roam the ruined countryside in search of food and resources, leading them straight to the carefully hidden and well-provisioned shelter. The gang lays siege to the warehouse, fighting their way inside in a bloody battle that takes lives on both sides. Written by
With zombies being so big in pop-culture these days it's not much of a surprise that most people think of the creatures when it comes to media focusing on the apocalypse and its aftermath. Coupled with the fact that horror always seems to be the go-to thing for most indie genre filmmakers, it's really nice to see director Richard Griffin make an 80s inspired (of the likes of action classics like the MAD MAX films and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK) post-apocalyptic sci-fi action film in 2014. While FUTURE JUSTICE owes elements to the movie ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, it's actually closer in structure to John Carpenter's earlier film ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. So in that sense, FUTURE JUSTICE plays very much in the vein of classic siege and survival movies. The film even has a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD vibe to it too as it has the subterranean shelter element with a group of protagonists that have to deal with conflict amongst themselves along with a larger threat. Aesthetically though, the movie owes less to some of the larger scale US and Australian post-apoc movies than it does to the relatively short-lived fad of Italian post-apoc movies that capitalized on those other movie's success. And in that regard, FUTURE JUSTICE has the feel of Enzo G. Castellari's BRONX films in terms of the abandoned city block exteriors and dusty, concrete interiors. Also when it comes to the movie's gangster antagonists, they have a very mishmash look to their weaponry and costuming not unlike the scavenging gangsters of a lot of the Italian films. Even looking at some of the military characters in FUTURE JUSTICE, they wear the black riot helmets that seemed mandatory for whatever evil Fascist troopers would be employed to take on the heroes in the Italian films. Also of note is the film's pounding, 1980s-esque, synthy music score by composer Daniel Hildreth. Definitely brings to mind 70s/80s John Carpenter music predominately, but is also reminiscent of some Italian composers of the likes of Claudio Simonetti. The music definitely fits the film well and aids in giving it the really cool retro vibe that it has.
As a film, FUTURE JUSTICE gets quite a bit of mileage out of its low-budget. The film doesn't utilize a whole bunch of different physical locations, but has much more scope than what the meager budget might lead many to believe it has. One of the best assets of the film are the visual effects. The filmmakers employ a good mix of practical and CGI effects, and the CGI never feels overbearing or excessive like a lot bigger budget Hollywood productions. While it's difficult to explain exactly why, an obviously CGI spaceship featured early on actually brought on more of a miniature (original STAR WARS trilogy, first two ALIEN films in particular) vibe. In any case, that type of tasteful and limited use of CGI is what sets the film's look apart from a lot of the manufactured looking Hollywood films that employ dozens of VFX artists. Along with the well utilized practical effects (Griffin and his crew clearly have this down after making so many horror films on the cheap), FUTURE JUSTICE has a rawness to it that makes it suspenseful and exciting. The only real nit-pick to make would be some of the CGI blood spatter that shows up (albeit briefly) as it has an empty feel to it.
As far as the performances go, there are definitely actors and characters that stand out the most. Steven O'Broin as the villain Gazeebo is probably the most memorable and well acted role. He comes off as tough and brutal throughout (even to the point of being armed with a crossbow that shoots exploding arrows) while the pairing of a villain named Gazeebo facing off against a hero bearing the ridiculous (but insanely badass) name of Python Diamond is a funny touch. Diamond (Nathaniel Sylva) isn't quite as imposing or memorable, but he makes for an interesting lead nonetheless (especially with the whole "terrorist or freedom fighter?" back story he's given). Another standout is Aaron Andrade as Uxbridge-- a character that's such an over-the-top asshole he's just incredibly fun to watch. There are some good supporting roles as well with Pat Hawkridge playing sort of a motherly character to Gazeebo and his two grizzled henchmen Rag and Tag (kind of like post-apocalyptic versions of Coffer and TC from THE WILD BUNCH). A lot of these supporting roles are very comedic and Michael Thurber is hilarious playing a tuxedo clad caricature of pretentious, full-of-themselves thespians. If I had to pick a character I didn't really enjoy it'd have to be Meg (Casey Wright) as her dialog just got a little too weird and on the annoying side of things after a while. It's mostly a minor detraction though in what is a pretty good ensemble cast/group of characters.
FUTURE JUSTICE is a highly entertaining flick with a good amount of action scenes. While it might be missing a real signature shootout of Peckinpah or Castellari quality, it's peppered with plenty of exciting skirmishes and fights throughout its running time. It's a well paced film and one that certainly seems like it would have a great deal of re-watch value. If you like old-school action flicks (particularly of the 80s sci-fi variety), you will no doubt enjoy FUTURE JUSTICE!
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