Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Movie Review: The Dead Lands (2015)

We have a film that starts with a chase and a kill using primitive Maori weapons.  What a cool way to get a movie going!  "The Dead Lands" takes place around the 16th century in New Zealand, prior to any European exploration.  Two tribes have a long running truce until someone defecates on an ancestor’s skull(literally).  Without their chief present, Wirepa(Te Kohe Tuhaka) is representing  his tribe and he is ready for war.  Wirepa frames the film’s hero Hongi(James Rolleston), who is the son of the rival tribe’s chief(George Henare).  The chief does everything he can to get out of going to war but Wirepa is insistent.

Wirepa and his tribe attack Hongi’s people at night killing off all men except Hongi who, during the attack, ends up at the bottom of a cliff.  The next day, Hongi sees the aftermath and decides he needs revenge.  Hongi has a vision in his sleep of his grandmother(Rena Owen) and she offers advice within the dream.  He tells her he will go where no one dares go, to the Dead Lands where it is said there is a man, possibly a monster, does not welcome outsiders and eats people.   It is then that Hongi decides he will recruit the warrior from the Dead Lands to assist him in his quest to find Wirepa.

Wirepa and his men also happen to be in the Dead Lands, as our main villain is feeling pretty high and mighty and wants to shave off about 5 days from his trip back home. 

Hongi finds the warrior(Lawrence Makoare) and asks for his help in killing Wirepa and his men.  We begin to see the growing relationship of these two.  The flesh eating warrior is reluctant as it’s just been him and his wives for so long.  Throughout the film, you see why the warrior has secluded himself and where the similarities between the two of them form and why he ultimately decides to help young Hongi.

Without giving too much more away, we continue to see Hongi and the warrior track Wirepa’s group and also meet another tribe whose main spokesperson is played brilliantly by Raukera Turei.  This run in, although seemingly peaceful, delves into the mind of the warrior and challenges Hongi’s perception of him.

The fight scenes are incredibly violent and the scenery is beautiful yet also shows some of the treachery of the land.  "The Dead Lands" takes you back to a primitive time, and is exclusively spoken in the Maori language.

The blu-ray extras include a behind the scenes look at the filming, the actors, and also an insight inyo their training.  Maori tribal experts were brought in to make "The Dead Lands" as authentic as possible.  James Cameron is also on one of the blu-ray bonus features singing the praises of "The Dead Lands."

All in all, "The Dead Lands" is an entertaining film.  Lots of action, characters to enjoy and watch grow plus a bad guy you can really hate.  On my scale of 1 to 5 Pile Drivers, "The Dead Lands" gets 3.5.

This blog came from one of my early posts on Cinema Head Cheese.  You can read more of my movie reviews there.

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