2067

★★

MUDDLED SCI-FI WITH AN ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE

ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Jake Watt
15th October 2020

Let's face it: a zombie plague is not hitting anytime soon, and despite all the geopolitical hot spots in the world, a full-scale global nuclear exchange is probably not in the cards either. An asteroid strike is plausible but remote, while the chances of an alien invasion seem even less realistic.

Ecological or environmental calamities, on the other hand, appear to be happening all around us. The melting of the ice caps, the disappearance of bees, the appearance of "murder wasps", extreme weather changes resulting in freak fires and floods, even the possibility of exhausting our supplies of resources like oil or drinkable water... these things are more real than ever before. It's these fears that director Seth Larney taps into with his latest film, '2067'.

"The O2 rejection epidemic is going to wipe out the human race in a handful of years," intones Regina Jackson, played by Deborah Mailman ('Paper Planes') in futuristic 'The Fifth Element' executive garb. Oxygen-producing greenery has become all but extinct on the Earth of '2067'. The majority of the community seem to work in mines and subsist on one corporation's artificial air supply. Unfortunately, it is beginning to cause people who sniff it to explosively chunder blood. If you've ever watched 'The Expanse', you get the drift. The outlook is grim.

SWITCH: '2067' TRAILER

Luckily, a bunch of lab rats at Chronicorp have been tinkering with a 'Stargate'-esque temporal portal which has informed them that 400 years in the future, oxygen is back in a big way, baby. The test run also comes back with a mysterious message: "Send Ethan Whyte." The son of a prominent scientist (Aaron Glenane), Ethan (Kodi Smit-McPhee, 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix', 'Alpha') is a worker in the tunnels alongside his protective best mate Jude (Ryan Kwanten, 'Mystery Road'). When his wife Xanthe (Sana'a Shaik) begins to suffer the side effects of synthetic oxygen use, Ethan allows himself to be zapped into the 25th century to discover the secret to saving mankind.

Ethan lands on 2467 Earth and quickly discovers breathable air, trees, berries and the joys of making fire. Unluckily, he also finds his own skeleton and a garbled recording of his death. Can he change his fate? If you haven't recovered from Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet', beware, as some unsatisfying time travel logic ensues.

Larney's '2067' feels like an unofficial companion piece to Damon Gameau's similarly titled and themed documentary '2040'. Like Gameau's film, the ideas are intriguing but the dramatic elements are lacking. To quote my own review of '2040': "Also cumbersome is the speculative futuristic narrative of Velvet that the documentary keeps flipping back to, culminating in a beyond-cheesy slow-motion rave reminiscent of the Zion dance party in 'The Matrix Reloaded'." What was the first movie that Larney worked on? 'The Matrix Reloaded'. Talk about synergy...

Larney's '2067' feels like an unofficial companion piece to Damon Gameau's similarly titled and themed documentary '2040'.

Larney's extensive experience as a VFX supervisor means that his film has impressive production design and special effects on one-billionth of an 'Avatar'-sized budget. '2067' quickly leaves its 'Blade Runner'-style sci-fi dystopia behind, with most of the "action" taking place in a future where nature has inexplicably returned. Aside from a few interesting scenes where Ethan has to use long-forgotten survival skills, not much happens here. The rundown, 400-year-old lab surrounded by a rainforest looks great, but this part of the story is padded out with too many flashbacks to Ethan's life and weepy arguments in his present. Like Duncan Jones' 'Source Code', it should be a fascinating puzzle to solve. Instead, it's just long and convoluted, with clumsy dialogue that hampers the actors. It's also highly derivative of all those other sci-fi flicks I've been mentioning.

I live in Sydney, a city which recently suffered its worst air quality in ten years due to smoke caused by bushfires. Not only that, but a long-promised clean air strategy for the state of New South Wales is already three years overdue. Deforestation, pollution and species extinction are some of the most pressing issues of our time, and many of the world's best storytellers are bringing these issues to life on film. That's a great thing: a well-crafted movie can actually bring us closer to nature and inspire us to protect it. Unfortunately, despite boasting some slick-looking effects, nifty set design and scarily relevant themes, the lumpy screenplay of '2067' makes it hard to recommend.

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