(US/Italy/France/UK - 2018)
Directed by James Franco and Bruce Thierry Cheung. Written by Bruce Thierry Cheung, Jeremy Craig Cheung and Jay Davis. Cast: James Franco, Milla Jovovich, Lucy Liu, Suki Waterhouse, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Margareta Levieva, Snoop Dogg, George Lewis Jr, Cliff "Method Man" Smith, Carmen Argenziano, Scott Haze, Rumer Willis, Ben Youcef. (R, 88 mins)
Last year, THE DISASTER ARTIST showed that director James Franco was maturing as a filmmaker and was ready to move toward the commercially viable and finally leave his self-indulgent, home-movie vanity projects behind.
FUTURE WORLD: "Hold my beer."
His entire career is shaping up to be one long display of bizarre performance art, but as a filmmaker, Franco has historically been a poster boy for misbegotten ambition. Prior to THE DISASTER ARTIST, his efforts behind the camera have been typified by a series of classic American literature adaptations--the works of William Faulkner (AS I LAY DYING and THE SOUND AND THE FURY), Cormac McCarthy (CHILD OF GOD) and John Steinbeck (IN DUBIOUS BATTLE)--projects whose primary reason for being seemed to be their utter unfilmability to the point of being unwatchable by design. Franco's directed over 20 feature films, and has another four set for release this year, including the long-shelved ZEROVILLE, completed in 2014 and co-starring Franco, Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, and Will Ferrell. Right after finishing THE DISASTER ARTIST, which sat around for about a year and half before it was released, Franco dove into FUTURE WORLD, apparently after finding a couple of hours to watch MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and rounding up some of his buddies to quickly shit out their own DIY version of it. Franco co-directs with his longtime cinematographer Bruce Thierry Cheung and called in some favors from some pals, including his frequent star Scott Haze, whose biggest contribution to the Franco legacy thus far is taking an on-camera shit and wiping his ass with a stick at the beginning of CHILD OF GOD. It should tell you everything you need to know about CHILD OF GOD that it was all downhill from there.
THE BAD BATCH, doesn't have much to do other than look like she's Pearl Prophet in a 2018 riff on the old Van Damme sci-fi favorite CYBORG. Top-billed Franco is absent for long stretches--probably the case behind the camera as well--and can't help but come off as a poseur Toecutter and Immortan Joe, turning in the kind of performance that makes one wonder whether he was perhaps spending too much time with Tommy Wiseau while prepping THE DISASTER ARTIST (how is a walking freakshow like Wiseau not in this?) Wahlberg doesn't quite have the presence of his uncle Mark or even his uncle Donnie, and it's gotta be an ominous sign that his acting coach gets an onscreen credit. Like most of his "hanging out and dicking off with his buddies" auteur endeavors, Franco corralled a potentially interesting and eclectic cast--there's also Method Man, Rumer Willis, and veteran character actor Carmen Argenziano, who gets killed by Warlord after about ten seconds of screen time--but, as usual, he abandons them, this time in a dull post-nuke flick that's not even up to the level of late-career Cirio H. Santiago.
|James Franco in one of Warlord's more pensive moments.|