Review: Young Ones

Michael Shannon could really use a drink in this week's Young Ones.

"In the future,
I guess there's no water but
plenty of gas. Wanna race?"
Apparently, there is a strong lack of creativity when it comes to movies about the future.

This week's release, Young Ones, is no different. Once again, audiences are dragged through a hellish environment where water is hard to come by and morals are always trumped by man's greed for land, money, and resources. Played like a lackluster version of Mad Max meets a Sergio Leone film, Young Ones is short on character, high in melodrama, and an altogether muddled mess that only gets worse as it continues through a bevy of silly plot devices, poor writing, and dehydrating boredom.

Mixing themes from westerns of the past and the typical futuristic, post-society, desert wasteland approach, Young Ones is told in three distinctive chapters; the one centered on Michael Shannon being the best (of course). As things progress, the second two chapters lack focus, confuse the story, and feel like director Jake Paltrow had no idea where he was going with this disjointed story about people that just really want some water. Young Ones says nothing that hasn't been said before. And its droning, mislead commentary about modern environmental woes and man's greed feels lazy, way too apparent, and disingenuous. If you're looking for thinking man's science fiction, this is not it.

What's sad is that Young Ones features a cast of relatively good actors, Shannon being the stand out of the bunch. The film stars Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and an annoying and under developed Elle Fanning finally proving that she belongs nowhere near a camera. Her acting here is brazenly non-committal as she spends every ounce of her screen time whining, acting sad, and looking a lost puppy dog that just can't find her bone. Pitting her against actors like Shannon, Hoult, and McPhee is an unfair challenge and one she obviously could not fully undertake. Instead of drawing emotive sorrow for her character's predicament, viewers will strongly wish for a fictional on screen death.

"Give me all your Evian and step
away from the donkey."
Young Ones feels like it started out with high expectations. Over the course of the movie, those expectations seem to wither and fade with another story about human kind's sad future and how inherent greed will ultimately be our downfall. It presents standard genre ideas blended with some definitive old school western tones while never straying into anything that could be considered original or creative. This is a jumbled mess presented by a half famous director that seemingly doesn't know how to take two steps out of his own way as his actor's await something tangible or mildly creative.

Young Ones will not quench your thirst for futuristic sci-fi. It'll leave you high and dry, wandering the desert with a robotic donkey.