ecnef’s review published on Letterboxd :
From the people who brought you Apocalpto and The Raid, so says the marketing spiel, and that should give you a hint that violence will feature heavily in this film.
And it sure does.
Of course, I didn’t really appreciate either of those two films a huge amount. Apocalyto was a wasted opportunity in my opinion. It could have been a really interesting film, instead it was a chase movie with added human sacrifice. The Raid was all action, all the time. Very well done action, but I prefer a little more than fighty fighty fighty in films.
Luckily The Dead Lands does have more than just fighting. Although there is a lot of action and of running through the wilderness, and then more fighting. But it has that little bit more character and plot with makes it a much better film for my tastes.
Also it has Beth from Once Were Warriors!((that is a film. It’ll break your heart, but it is awesome)) In a minor, but important role.
There isn’t a huge amount to the plot of the film, a tribe is attacked and the chief’s son is the only surviving male so he must avenge his tribe. So it is a revenge film. But it is also about how revenge is not the answer, and hw violence leads to violence which leads to more violence. An interesting message for such a violent film.
Also Lawrence Makoare is a truly terrifying presence. No wonder he got to play Lurtz, Bolg, and The Witchking in the various LOTR/Hobbit films. But here he also manages to make his character ever so slightly vulnerable, you end up feeling sorry for him, despite the things you know he has done and will continue to do. He’s wonderful.
And the whole film just looks superb. It is beautifully shot, almost worth watching for that alone. It isn’t a perfect film, but it is a lot better than many films out there.