The warrior spirit is alive and well in this week's release, The Dead Lands.
Vengeance takes a unique form in the Maori action epic, The Dead Lands. Through a vast series of forest chase scenes, limb slicing barbarism scenarios, and refreshing fight sequences, this is a passionate project high on adrenaline and genre defining creativity. From start to finish, The Dead Lands takes on a form of its own and turns in one of the most different and blood soaked cinematic entries of the year. Sadly, it will go mostly unnoticed due to poor marketing and a varied release slate.
For those looking for something different, The Dead Lands might be a perfect choice. Although it sometimes feels like a poor man's Apocalypto, this heart pounding story of brutal savagery starts off strong and never lets up in its realistic rendering of man on man bloodshed and misled glory. The Dead Lands borrows themes from numerous genres and seamlessly blends them all into one ninety minute throat slitting, limb dicing, face bashing journey for revenge.
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Based in New Zealand's countryside, The Dead Lands is a primal expedition through sweeping vistas, devastated villages, and tense moments of theatrical perfection. Armed to the teeth with dreamlike sequences and stunning portraits of earth's massive beauty, The Dead Lands is a visual treat that maximizes a limited budget to its full potential. Featuring hallucinatory imagery, perfected cinematography, excellent costume design, and numerous mind baffling environments, this is a portrait of primitive warfare come to life.
A little known cast inhabits this tale of Maori tribesmen with simplistic and endearing performances that are captivating at a basic human level. Their characterizations are believable although some line readings are stunted by melodramatic tones and self aware delivery . Yet, their desire to satisfy the script is quite apparent and each lead actor respectfully puts themselves dead center in a story that will satisfy the tastes of almost any action junkie.
The Dead Lands will be available in limited theaters this weekend and on most streaming services. If you're looking for something bold to hold your interest, this just might be it. It's a satisfying visual spectacle that brings a spiritual edge to a story about tribal vengeance. Despite a few shortcomings on the part of director Toa Fraser, The Dead Lands is a fun and merciless ride.