Movie Review – The Dead Lands (2015)

The Dead Lands
Directed by Toa Fraser
Courtesy of Magnet Releasing
Release Date: August 4, 2015

the dead lands

I’ve been intrigued about the film THE DEAD LANDS for a long time. I saw a trailer for it several months ago, and the raw savagery within it caught my eye immediately. I figured if I could watch it, I’d be in for a real treat. Sure enough, I was right. THE DEAD LANDS is an epic masterpiece of old-world action and intense drama.

If you are not familiar with THE DEAD LANDS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Magnet Releasing:

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

Of course, the revenge story is nothing new to cinema. There are thousands of titles in every genre that deal with the subject. However, it is a concept that has been around since the dawn of man, and it always makes for great drama.

THE DEAD LANDS is no exception. The film is crammed full of tension and suspense. It moves at a steady, even pace, and it never lags. The production value of the film is high, and the cinematography captures the lush, New Zealand scenery with exquisite detail. The movie is visually as entertaining as the storyline.

The acting is excellent, however I confess I am not familiar with any of the cast. James Rolleston does a phenomenal job as the lead, Hongi, while Te Kohe Tuhaka and Lawrence Makoare are superb as his supporting cast.

The action and fight scenes are intense and well done. I particularly like the unique weapons the characters use in battle. The edged clubs in the film are based on actual Maori weapons, and they deliver devastating blows to opponents. The results are lavishly reconstructed for the film, and we get to see them in stunning high-definition.

I really enjoyed THE DEAD LAND, and I highly recommend it. The film is part action, part historical drama, but it’s all fun. Be warned, however: it is subtitled, and there are no English dubovers. But if you can look past that, the film offers an entertaining glimpse into another culture.

MSB

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