Like any good cinephile, I’m always up for trashy B-movies starring actors I know in roles that are so far beneath them that you wonder what amount of dirt the director had on them. The only caveat to that is that the films in question are fun in one way or another. If they’re intentionally funny, unintentionally funny, filled with interesting ideas, or so stupid you can’t help but laugh, I’m there. They just need to be fun. I was excited for Future World to be another one of these movies. It is not.
Set in post-apocalyptia, the story follows Prince (Jeffrey Wahlberg), whose mother (Lucy Liu) is dying. She’s got some illness for which he needs to procure a cure, so he goes out into the dangerous wasteland in order to get it. Along the way, he encounters raiders, cyborgs, and drug addicts. That’s the entirety of the plot, really. It’s a hero’s journey story in which the hero is the blandest element, but nothing else is especially engaging, either. Even James Franco (who co-directed) showing up as the raider leader or Snoop Dogg‘s brief appearance as a pimp, or Milla Jovovich‘s campy turn as “Drug Lord” aren’t enough to generate much excitement.
The problem is that the whole film lacks purpose, creativity, purpose, skill, purpose, excitement, purpose, coherence, purpose, and purpose. It wants to tell this guy’s story, but he’s so bland he fades into the washed-out background. The supporting cast is potentially more interesting but isn’t given much to do—something especially true whenever they have to interact with Prince.
Almost all of Future World seems like it was meant to capitalize on the hype generated by Mad Max: Fury Road, but by the time the schedules all worked out and they got down to making it, the hype was gone and they had forgotten to tell a story. So we get Generic Post-Apocalypse Movie #35735, one with a lack of energy, creativity, and drive. It’s the type of direct-to-video movie that got made in the mid-2000s for less money than a typical Asylum release, except this one has famous actors and is being released in some theaters (and direct-to-video, but still).
It can’t even be stupid enough to laugh at. The action scenes are boring—only one brief burst near the end is anything close to exciting—the characters are all dull or stereotypes (or both), and almost everyone looks and sounds bored. The only one who seems to “get” it is Milla Jovovich, whose few hammy scenes as the leader of Drug Town—yes, the lack of creativity extends to the names of places—briefly energize the picture.
Future World commits the unforgivable sin of being a boring B-movie. These types of films don’t need to do a lot right—as long as they’re entertaining in some form or fashion, it’s hard to be too disappointed. This one’s a slog. It’s a post-apocalyptic hero’s journey where the setting is dull and uninspired, the hero is even blander, the supporting cast consists of stereotypes you’ve seen done better elsewhere, and the whole project lacks drive, creativity, purpose, plot, and fun. It’s another bad, generic, and completely forgettable post-apocalyptic movie.
Conclusion: Future World is a boring B-movie.
Recommendation: Only watch Future World if you need a nap. It’ll help.