Set in a near future when water has become the most precious and dwindling resource on the planet, one that dictates everything from the macro of political policy to the detailed micro of interpersonal family and romantic relationships. The land has withered into something wretched. The dust has settled on a lonely, barren planet. The hardened survivors of the loss of Earth's precious resources scrape and struggle. Ernest Holm (Michael Shannon) lives on this harsh frontier with his children, Jerome ( Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Mary (Elle Fanning) fends his farm from bandits, works the supply routes, and hopes to rejuvenate the soil. But Mary's boyfriend, Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult), has grander designs. He wants Ernest's land for himself, and will go to any length to get it. From writer/director Jake Paltrow comes a futuristic western, told in three chapters, which inventively layers Greek tragedy over an ethereal narrative that's steeped deeply in the values of the American West.Written by
Nicholous Hoult & Kodi Smit-McMphee would later reunite in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) See more »
The movie focuses on them needing a robot to transport water, but the main character is later seen driving around in a pickup truck much larger than the robot. See more »
I never saw this land when it was green. My father did. He worked it before the drought came. He used to talk about it all the time. He used to talk about the wheat they grew, and the pride they felt. He always believed in the land. Even as the fights over water first divided states, then towns, and then neighbors. Most people who could, left. But he had his reasons for staying. He was convinced the land would come back. It just needed water. And he was right.
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The plot: After a catastrophic drought, a man and his two teenaged children attempt to survive in a post-apocalyptic society.
I wanted to like this more than I did. Everything about it seems like it would appeal to me. The problem is that I got a bit bored during a few slower parts of the film as I waited for the predictable plot to catch up to where I knew it was going. That's not a deal-breaker, but the scenes were telegraphed rather overtly early on, and anyone who's familiar with this sort of story can probably predict most of the film after twenty minutes. That said, it successfully avoided several annoying clichés in post-apocalyptic films: cannibals, biker gangs, raping all the female characters, and characters who do more yelling than talking. I was glad to see a post-apocalyptic film that was more concerned with characters than gratuitous elements such as these. Don't get me wrong: I love gratuitous exploitation films, but it's nice to have something a bit more restrained every now and then.
I would hesitate to truly recommend this film to fans of post-apocalyptic science fiction. There's certainly much to enjoy if you're starved for good entries in that genre, but it's nowhere near as good as The Road, which was a near-masterpiece. Certainly, the mood and atmosphere of that film was missing, and if you're looking for a truly bleak and depressing story, you won't find it here. This is a more traditional Western story in which a family survives in a near-lawless frontier. If you're more a fan of Westerns than post-apocalyptic films, then I can see how you might enjoy this more than I did. Even so, I think that you'd be better served by watching old Sergio Leone films. You won't get robotic mules, but you'll get much better cinematography and pacing. I can't remember a time when I was ever bored in a Leone film.
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