It can be hard for low budget films to be unique or groundbreaking, especially visually. A lack of funds can often severely limit the avenues and methods one can use. The producers of Future World: City of Mass Destruction have managed to create a visually striking film, despite a paucity of funds. It's a film that has flaws, and big ones, but they're trying to do something very interesting, and that's worth a lot.
It's difficult to summarize the plot of Future World, because there really isn't an overarching story. It consists of several short features, each self-contained, that sometimes overlap. They are all set in the far future, 30,000 AD, in the only city that has managed to survive on earth: Grand Rapids, MI. Why Grand Rapids is left when so many others are gone is never fully explained. Grand Rapids is controlled by three groups: The DeVoz family, the Fillmore Collection, and Emperor Grugor (Joseph McIntosh) and his minions. They form an uneasy alliance, with DeVoz providing the security and police, Fillmore all the food and entertainment, and the Grugors the government.
The stories usually focus on one of these groups, whether it's the capturing of Amazon warrior Lady Nomous (Jacqueline Joy) and forcing her to fight in gladiatorial games by the Grugors, or ex-cop Terrance (Michael O'Hair) being forced to infiltrate the Fillmore House, or the efforts of the lovely couple Vion and Astra (Cassie Truskowski and Rachel Finan) to save the world, at the urging of the megalomaniacal Deacon DeVoz (Matt Simpson Siegel). There's also murder, drug abuse, stoners, a real life genie, and lots of oddball humor, which can be a bit drawn out and trying at times.
The various chapters are told in different styles, sometimes leaning heavily on the humor, and at other times tending toward the serious and dramatic. The most striking thing about Future World though is the look. The entire film was shot with minimal sets and the actors in front of green screens, with effects layered on later to make everything look cartoon like. But not Saturday morning cartoons, more the way Fire and Ice looks, though considerably less artfully done. The film has quite a unique look, and is able to present effects and sets that would have been impossible if done in a more traditional way. The image tends to appear rough and half finished, giving the film a gritty look. Despite the budgetary constraints, the movie looks generally appealing.
There are both high points and low when it comes to the narrative execution. The chapters vary in quality, both in terms of story and performance. Some, such as the story of Vion and Astra, are genuinely compelling, tragic and moving. Others, such as the one about the drug heads and the genie, are simply goofy. The performances are quite broad, and this is probably necessary given all the effects overlaying the actors, but it can be off putting at times. Of course, Future World isn't intended to be taken entirely seriously by the viewer, and doesn't take itself too seriously either. For the most part, it's a fun ride, and the occasional bumps or hamminess or silly looking CG that are common in low budget films can for the most part be forgiven.
Future World: City of Mass Destruction is a far from perfect film. However, its creators are truly trying to stretch themselves and provide something new and fresh, and are to be commended for it. Though hampered by a lack of funds, some portions of it are truly effective. I can't quite recommend it, but it will certainly appeal to some. Rent it.
The image is 1.78:1 widescreen, and generally looks good. Most of the look of the film is intentionally lo-fi, so it's hard to evaluate as one would a traditional film. It's as if the whole film has had a posterization effect applied to it. Essentially, it seems that the film looks the way that the producers intended. However, note that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
Audio is Dolby digital 5.1 channel, and sounds good. The dialogue is easily audible, and no hiss or other problem can be heard. Neither an alternate language track nor subtitles are included, except during sequences when different alien languages are used. However, note that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
There are a few extras included. They are:
Photo / Poster Gallery
This is a gallery of both promo posters and art, and unenhanced on the set photos of the actors in front of green screens.
"Behind the Green" - The Making of GR30K / Outtakes
This runs about six and a half minutes, and includes some acting flubs, fight scenes, a fire stunt, and general shot preparation.
Saying Goodbye to Props
At 1:30, this is simply video of the producers destroying props from the film, by ripping them apart, smashing them with sledges, etc.
Please note that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality or quantity of extras on the final product.
Future World: City of Mass Destruction has its flaws: a scattered narrative, some mediocre or too melodramatic performances, and the normal cobbled together look of a low budget picture. But it also has a striking vision, and a dramatic visual sense, and some honestly powerful segments. The passion of the filmmakers makes for some engaging moments, but can't quite make it truly successful. It certainly is interesting, though.