I watched this film when it originally came out, back in 2006. I was so stoked, it was the follow up movie from Richard Kelly, the guy who made Donnie Darko, one of my all time favourite films. Watching SOUTHLAND TALES was pretty much movie suicide and direction in the art of filming pure shit, it is like a scatalogical waste of film and life in viewing it. So when Madman Entertainment released it on Blu Ray I wanted to revisit it, was I just being an idiot 8yrs ago, was I too immature to understand it. So I put it on, lasted 15mins and I turned it off – yep – so I put it out to the kernels, was there someone else who would give it a go and take one for the team? Yep – enter Kernel John, he loved it, actually nope, he confirms for me. Now sorry to bag the shit out of the film, but if you want to make up your own mind, thanks to Madman, we have 3x copies for you to win on Blu Ray so you can make your own judgement. It is out now, it is rated shit, I mean MA15+ and runs for 144mins. Enjoy Kernel John’s review……….all the best…………JK.





I… I do not… I do not even know where to begin with this… film?  Nightmare?  Acid trip?  Everything about this movie is exceedingly strange, to the point of almost being unintelligible.  This film is weird, with a side of crazy, and a flying ice cream truck thrown in just for good measure.

Richard Kelly (DONNIE DARKO) directs this psychedelic… you know, I am not even sure how to classify this film.  It is kind of like a science fiction, alternate history, apocalyptic, dystopian, action, comedy (at least I think it is trying to be funny), poetic, eye squintingly confusing… thing.  With an ensemble cast that permanently looked as perplexed as I was, a square plot that was never going to fit into the round hole of plausibility no matter how desperately Kelly tried to cram it in, and way too much exposition.




The story of SOUTHLAND TALES, which I will now attempt to coherently explain, begins with some random placard stating “Part Four: Temptation Waits,” before later following on with Part Five and Part Six, like some bastardised tribute to STAR WARS.  In true George Lucas form, three preceding stories were released as graphic novels after the film premiered to help solve the numerical conundrum raised.  The movie itself takes place in an alternate timeline Los Angeles a few years after a nuclear attack on the United States causes World War 3.  Everyone loses their minds, chaos, anarchy, and massive overreactions ensue.  The US bombs everyone it does not like back to the Stone Age, while censoring the crap out of its own citizens, and punishing any and all infractions with brutal lethality.  Governments are chosen by the minority, making the Land of the Free technically a fascist state.  There is a civil war of sorts brewing between the totalitarian regime and a neo-Marxist terrorist group who hope to disrupt an upcoming election and return the country to some form of normality.  Also, to complicate the story further, the US has run out of oil and being that it is at war with its usual Black Gold trading partners, needs a new source of energy.  The solution, a perpetual motion machine off the coast of L.A. that turns sea water into power, known as Fluid Karma, and transmits it wirelessly through quantum tunnelling to anywhere in the world.  Because when you give the laws-of-thermodynamics-defying gizmo a sassy name, audience members will buy your garbage.  Additionally, direct injection of Fluid Karma into the bloodstream lets you talk to God, as apparently His phone number is 555-disobey-the-underlying-rules-of-the-Universe.  The film also features doppelganger twin brothers who are not actually brothers, a prophetic screenplay being marketed by an ex porn star, global annihilation through the slowing down of the Earth’s core (saw that movie, it does not end well for San Francisco), and the unravelling of the very fabric of reality because of disruptions in the fourth dimension.  Oh, and did I mention there is also time travel?

See, perfectly logical plot.  Clear as crystal, right?  No?  Yeah, not for me either.




Helping to drag down the film is the gratingly over the top dialogue.  If it is not Justin Timberlake (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) spouting nonsensical Bible passages as the movie’s quasi-narrator, then it is some other cast member speaking in poetry, or uttering philosophy.  Seriously, other than the Bible references I picked up on exerts from Robert Frost, T. S. Elliot, Friedrich Nietzsche, Philip K. Dick, Lucius Accius, and Lewis Carroll.  Kelly seems to have borrowed so heavily from the works of past masters that it is surprising he is still credited as the film’s writer.  By the way, at no point are those stolen words used in such a manner as to help explain what is actually going on.  Even Timberlake’s random Biblical narration does nothing to set or clarify the scene.  People just seem to talk for the hell of it.

Other than Timberlake, the film features three other stars of note.  First, there is Dwayne Johnson (HERCULES) as Boxer Santaros, playing an amnesiac actor.  It is always fun watching a film where the character being portrayed is an actor.  The real life star needs to tone down his actual acting ability when playing the character, so that he can ramp it up again when playing the “actor.”  As such, we see Johnson’s performance swerve all over the place as he swaps between playing the shy, frightened, amnesia suffering Santaros, and the tough, fearless, action orientated Jericho Cane (Santaros’s stage name), a feat that he does not pull off very well.  The shy guy is so out of character for Johnson, while the tough guy is nowhere near Johnson’s normal standards.  Second is Sarah Michelle Gellar (THE GRUDGE) as ex porn star Krysta Now.  Great lengths are taken to constantly reiterate to the audience that she is a former porn star, though at no point does her past occupation bear impact on the plot.  She might as well have been a dentist for all the difference it made to the storyline.  Gellar herself looks dazed and confused in most of her scenes.  Last is Seann William Scott (AMERICAN PIE) as twins Roland and Ronald Taverner.  Despite Taverner’s key involvement in the film’s plot, he spends most of the movie either drugged or unconscious.  So, as a sleeping/catatonic body, Scott’s performance is top notch, but as an actual functioning human being, not so much.  The overall choice of cast is odd in my opinion.  It is almost like the start of a bad joke: “The Rock, Buffy, and Stifler all walk into a bar…”  If Johnson is not punching something, Gellar is not staking something, and Scott is not trying to suppress his mother’s cougar behaviour, then I find it very difficult to believe these actors.




The film’s special effects are equally disappointing.  Poorly rendered CGI makes the Fluid Karma machine look like a plastic Eiffel Tower that has started to melt.  Fireworks displays look like they were made in Microsoft Paint with the spray can tool, and the “smoke” they leave behind is gratingly fake.

SOUTHLAND TALES was originally released in 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival and all but universally panned by everyone.  After extensive edits, we are left with two and a half hours of nonsensical rubbish in this, its final release.  I shudder to think what the original take looked like if this is the post criticism improvement.  The film tries to play on themes of entertainment-consumerism and a militaristic state, but these subjects are too easily crowded out by all of this movie’s other failings.  It has an incredibly bold and imaginative plot that all too quickly is drowned in confusion.  I believe that this film’s storyline would have done much better as a television series, where it could have played out over twenty episodes or so and really drawn the audience in, rather than attempting to do far too much in just one sitting.  I wish anyone who views this film the best of luck in trying to find more than a moment’s entertainment value before the head scratching begins.  The final comment I had made in my notebook while watching this film was “what the hell did I just watch?”  I stand by that sentiment still.


1 and a Half Pops


With special thanks to MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT to win one of the 3x BLU RAYs of SOUTHLAND TALES you need to either like and share this post on Facebook or retweet/ favourite it on Twitter, you then need to answer the following question. 

Firstly, just an FYI on how to increase chances of winning a salty comp; commenting on the review generally holds you in better stead of winning as opposed to just comp sexing :)

WHAT IS YOUR MOST DISLIKED MOVIE OF ALL TIME AND WHY? Mine, hands down, ROBIN HOOD MEN IN TIGHTS, THE HAPPENING, THE MIST, anything with Adam Sandler post Big Daddy, in fact we even wrote our combined Salty Popcorn Most hated films of all time HERE.

If you do not have Facebook and Twitter then you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at telling me you don’t have social media 

Prizes will be awarded based on skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels, more likely ME.

The prizes will be sent in the next week or two. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.



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