The one-eyed leader of a team of desert scavengers living in the post-apocalyptic United States returns to his home to get his revenge on his evil brother and his evil stepmother whom murdered his father and his brother.
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In 2084, a nuclear war wasted Earth, making the sky red of chemicals and the former United States of America becomes Deathlands. Breeds of mutants and half-mutants share what was left on Earth with humans. The vile of "Front Royale" is ruled by a good man, but he is killed by his wife Lady Rachel Cawdor, and his evil son Harvey Cawdor kills one of his brothers and blinds one eyes of his fifteen years old brother Ryan, who escapes. Twenty years later, the one-eyed leader Ryan Cawdor returns to "Front Royale" with his girlfriend and half-mutant Krysty Worth, his human friend and specialist in weapons JB Dix and the teenage mutant Jak Laurent to face his brother and his stepmother. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It's always a gamble when a book is adapted to screen. It's more of a gamble when a popular book is adapted to screen.
However, when you take a book that's got "CULT" written all over it, that's where your real problems begin.
I've only read a few of James Axler's "DEATHLANDS" books, but enough to know they definitely took some liberties. A major character from the group was completely omitted (Doc Tanner), and a good deal of the backstory was changed, but not really enough to ruin the movie for me. Oscar-worthy, it ain't, but it's nowhere nearly as bad as a lot of people are making it out to be.
What puzzles me is people who claim to read the series are complaining about the rather tepid dialogue. Well, what books HAVE you been reading?! The dialogue in the "DEATHLANDS" series is about as sophomoric as any adventure series (barring "THE DESTROYER" and DL's "sister" series, "OUTLANDERS"). The terms "fireblast", "nukesh*tting", just to cite a couple of examples, pepper the prose throughout these books. Not exactly Henry James.
But, I digress...
Vincent Spano, never one of my favourite actors, actually did a passable turn as Ryan Cawdor, 'though I would've preferred him to be more like the introspective "Snake Plissken" clone the character was created to resemble. Jenya Lano was admirably cast as Krysty Wroth, even if the on screen version was a bit too timid. Cliff Saunders, physically a bit too Phil Collins-esquire to accurately portray the gaunt Armourer, JB Dix, did a good turn, though a bit more talkative than his literary counterpart. A lot of other complaints were that the characters were too "goody-goody". Well, that's as may be, but it's also one of the primary reasons why the "DEATHLANDS" series has a C U L T following instead of mainstream. If these characters were constantly as ruthless on screen as they are in the books, the creators of the movie / proposed TV series would be hard-pressed to get as large a viewership as they'd be aiming to attract.
The villains (and some of the protagonists) were over-the-top, but no more so than in any of the books I've read thus far. While some of these people gave shuddering performances, it strikes me as pretty much spot-on in comparison to the the four books in the series I've read thus far. The violence was toned down SEVERELY, as was the obligatory sex scene between Ryan & Krysty, but, as it's a made-for-cable movie, it's about what I expected, and actually, some of the more graphic scenes they left in really surprised me.
The cinematography was visually startling and very effective, giving the edginess to the Deathlands that the books convey. It's unfortunate that their budget was only around $2 million, but given that's all they had to work with, they have my kudos in spades for even getting it made, let alone seen by anyone.
"HOMEWARD BOUND", the 5th book in the "DEATHLANDS" series, was the director's personal choice from what I read. It was a nice idea, but I think it might've been a bit too ambitious for a debut movie. As far as post-apocalyptic scenarios, the first book in the series, "Pilgimage to Hell", prob'ly would've made a much better choice. The readers are still introduced to the characters one at a time, but there's still some mystery to them, whereas "HOMEWARD BOUND" tries to explain way too much at one time. Had this gone to series, "HB" would've been more apropos as the first season's cliffhanger / second season's opener.
All-in-all, however, it's somewhat heartening to see that the writers and director actually drew from the source material instead of merely paying lip service to it. It gives me hope that they may one day re-do a DL movie, or move on to "OUTLANDERS" with better results.
Yes, this movie could've been a lot better, but it also could've been a lot WORSE.
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