A Flat Tire: They Don’t Get Worse than FUTURE WORLD

This is Bad. Really, Really Bad.

By James Kenney. Originally published at whatchareading.com

What the hell did I just see? FUTURE WORLD, starring James Franco, Snoop Dogg, Milla Jovovich, Lucy Liu, and Suki Waterhouse, is as bad as cinema gets. Turn it off, it’s dead, man.

If this was supposed to be one of Franco’s vanity postmodern art installations, like his run on GENERAL HOSPITAL, or the Lifetime Television melodramas he does on occasion in between more prestigious products like THE DISASTER ARTIST, for which he received a 2018 best director Oscar nomination,  I don’t get it. The son of a b**** co-directed this atrocity (along with Bruce Cheung, a co-writer, if he wants credit), a sort of a ROAD WARRIOR post-apocalyptic thingy that looks like it was shot in Nevada backyard over a weekend (it was actually shot in California’s Imperial Valley, perhaps over a weekend). If there’s a joke here, it’s on me, as the saying goes.

Future World is Exhibit A in the Case Against Franco

Unseemly stories such as the ones about Franco running classes in Los Angeles where he’d choose girls to star in his “art projects” and then film raunchy sex scenes or demand they go topless have hurt the eccentric/talented star’s rep. FUTURE WORLD, filled with gratuitous nudity, women in cages being bartered to men with rotten teeth,tawdry lesbian couplings, rapes and more (it’s all nevertheless incredibly boring, trust me),all wrapped up in a remarkably uninteresting imagining of yet another post apocalyptic future, feels like a senior thesis from Franco’s sleazy acting school.  This movie’s idea of dialogue is  every woman onscreen being called a “bitch,” and when Franco kills a key character late in its 83 minute running time, the best he can come up with is “you’re such a bitch” over her corpse.

As for the female lead, she’s not human at all. Waterhouse plays a robot who kills and f—s on command, so at least she gets to do one more thing than the human women.  Let’s just say the OTHER post-apocalyptic movie Waterhouse shot in 2017, THE BAD BATCH, directed by a woman, Ana Lily Amirpour, is the decidedly more interesting project.

Some Wahlberg is the Lead

FUTURE WORLD has everything going against it, not least of all is that the actual lead is none of the actors listed above, but an absolutely charisma-free, effete nobody named something-or-another Wahlberg, who apparently is a nephew of Donnie and Mark, which might explain how he was cast (I initially assumed sleeping with the producer was the likely scenario).  Rumer WIllis, Bruce and Demi’s kid, is in here too, but I didn’t even notice her, and the actually healthy number of name actors who show up (Lucy Liu has one scene, where she just lays in a bed muttering inanities) makes me wonder if this was some sort of rave, where everyone did Molly and partied in the desert and then in the final week said “oh,crap, we’ve got to make a movie! Let’s do it!” If any mafia money was used to fund this, I’d watch my back, Franco.

The Worst Shot Film of Recent Memory

What are these guys smiling about???

After an acceptable, CGI driven opening credits sequence showing some nifty post-apocalyptic landscape involving burnt-out buildings and cities on fire and all that, the actual movie begins and it’s so incredibly cheap-looking. The bad guys wouldn’t past muster in a 1980s Enzo Casterelli ROAD WARRIOR rip-off, and the noble characters are all dressed up like they’re in a 1975 disaster film; they wouldn’t look out of place  cowering before Yul Brynner  in THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR, or mulling about the BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES set. The camera work is atrocious and strange. Nothing cuts together gracefully. Not one moment in the film is  competently staged  or attractively shot.  The whole film looks like it was shot with some low flying drones that had some sort of motion capture setting that kept malfunctioning. I don’t really know how to explain it, you have to see it to get what I’m trying to explain, but I surely don’t want you to do that. Just TRUST ME.

I don’t know what’s up with Franco, I liked him fine and generally have appreciated his efforts to be, well, strange.  He has directed  ambitious Faulkner adaptations, did a funny bit on 30 ROCK where he played a pervert named James Franco, and has often been good in movies big and small.

But this, man. This is bad.

There is not one original or even rehashed idea competently done beyond the opening credits sequence. Franco is bad, bad, bad, as is most everyone else.  O.K., Jovovich is mildly amusing (accent on mildly) in a nothing annoying part that she supplies with her kind-of-humorous insouciance, and Waterhouse seems willing to believe or pretend she’s acting in a Real Movie, though by the end she doesn’t come off any more competent than anyone else.

Have I convinced you that FUTURE WORLD is threadbare, stupid, and rotten? If not, I could go on another 1500 Words. But no. Watching FUTURE WORLD is not even like watching a terrible car accident. It’s more like when you hope to see a car accident only to find it’s some slob changing his flat tire. I will say no more, ever, about FUTURE WORLD.

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