THE DEAD LANDS | REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

THE DEAD LANDS is a tribal movie from the fine folks in New Zealand, released by Transmission Films and out now on DVD/ Blu Ray or from iTunes. It is set in the pre-European period of violent Maori times and holy cow, it was a brutal time, a time when people just slaughtered for bravado or to prove they were a greater warrior. Visually stunning and only showing us exactly what it is without anything much deeper this film lives up to its genre, that of a simple violent tribal movie. New Zealand’s answer to APOCALYPTO perhaps. Thanks to the folks at Transmission Films we also 5x copies of the movie to giveaway. Find out how to win after my below review. THE DEAD LANDS is rated MA15+ and runs for 104mins.

 

THE DEAD LANDS MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
THE DEAD LANDS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW & GIVEAWAY | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY JASON KING

After his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery, Hongi – a Maori chieftan’s teenage son – must avenge his father’s murder in order to bring peace and honor to the souls of his loved ones. Vastly outnumbered by the band of villains, Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious “Warrior,” a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.

Is it really New Zealand’s answer to APOCALYPTO? To some extent yes, it is brutal tribal men fighting and on the run, but this film lacks the depth and intelligence of Gibson’s superior movie. It is also all in a foreign language and relentless in its brutality and fabled history, but history does not get in the way of a great story and THE DEAD LANDS is nothing less than it advertises, a warrior movie.

It was great seeing the haka and it’s tribal meaning in something more than a football match and the use of the Maori weapons did add something new and exciting to the genre with fight choreography deserving of awards. I find the Maori history so interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the film for at least showing something towards this area.

 

THE DEAD LANDS MOVIE IMAGE
THE DEAD LANDS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW & GIVEAWAY | HONGI (JAMES ROLLESTON) AND HIS FATHER, THE CHIEFTAIN

 

I will say wow and holy double cow, has James Rolleston grown up or what!?!? That little boy from BOY is now a fully fledged gorgeous man who can bloody act, and what a physical actor he is. He really does have an onscreen presence and no doubt someone in the US will snap him up soon. He has some great films in him. His portrayal of Hong actually kept me interested in the movie, he was one character who had a minuscule of depth and development and his balance of scared, young, naive and battle-ready were inspirational. I also bloody loved Lawrence Makoare as The Warrior – you may know him as the leading bad orc leader from the Lord of the Rings – the one who slaughters Ned Stark aka Borimir. He is frightening and his mere predator-walk is scary as it is but then he does the tongue thing he becomes the epitome of the haka and its meaning on film. I believed he would take on ten opposing warriors and win, it is all in his stature.

The movie does venture into some poor lack of depth and cliche and while I started losing interest about half way through when it gets into its battling it is in its element and this kept me on board until the end, besides I did want to see Hongi victorious. But my largest issue was the bad tribe, they really had no purpose besides being bad. There was no history there, it started with some brilliant spiritual fable and I thought this would go somewhere towards a motive but there really wasn’t any. And then they really weren’t that bad at all, the hunter became the hunted and the bad guys were the ones running, their brutality and viciousness lost.

 

THE DEAD LANDS MOVIE IMAGE
THE DEAD LANDS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW & GIVEAWAY | THE WARRIOR (LAWRENCE MAKOARE)

 

Minor minor other gripes. 1) all their teeth were way too white, I kept noticing it; 2) when the bad tribe pulls down the gate at their wee mountain fort like place, why did no one push one of their spears through the gaps? Was this an honour thing? That they must fight face to face with respect? The bad guys didn’t do this while slaughtering the tribe. 3) They lightly touched on cannibalism but oh so slightly and then left it alone, I would have liked to have seen this explored. Early Maoris were cannibals but was this avoided out of what people might think?

Director, Toa Fraser does try and and look at the themes of betrayal, guilt, responsibility, redemption, honour, revenge but never fully develops them because, this movie, while it has a mediocre story is all about one thing and this one thing it does well, FIGHT.

Have you seen it? What were your thoughts?

 

3 and a Half Pops

 

With special thanks to Transmission Films to win one of the 5X DVDs of THE DEAD LANDS you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite tribal movie and why? For me I have to go with Apocalypto – just love it – if you get stuck – here is 320 to choose from 🙂 

If you do not have social media then get with the times – you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

Prizes will no longer be awarded to first in first served. It will now be a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.

The prizes will be sent after MAY 15th! Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.