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Review: “Scorched Earth” Barely Sparks A Flame

Review: “Scorched Earth” Barely Sparks A Flame

The Post-Apocalypse. It’s a great setting for a movie. It’s completely open to interpretation. The Earth hasn’t gotten there yet, so there’s no way someone can knock the genre for being too “unrealistic.” Unless it’s a documentary or a piece of non-fiction, I generally throw realism out the window because, in the end, it’s a movie — just a movie; a few hours of entertainment.

And that was my mindset going into “Scorched Earth.” The film uses the genre to its advantage and also has a respectable premise filled with violence and revenge. But there’s something missing from its underbelly. Throughout the few hours of entertainment, “Scorched Earth” suffers from slippery grasp on the elements that make a film “good.”

CINEMATICS (CINEMATOGRAPHY, ACTING, PLOT, ETC.) – 2

Carano was nowhere near ready to lead a film as a protagonist.

Production value goes a long way in the film market, especially when it comes to the average moviegoer. There’s no reason for me to be cruel if the film doesn’t look like a Spielberg production. But the average moviegoer will rip it to pieces if it doesn’t resemble a Marvel movie, nowadays. In the defense of “low” production value, Neil Marshall’s “Dog Soldiers” is one of my favorite examples. The film appears to have premiered on the SyFy channel, but experiencing the well-written script, engaging characters, and heart-pounding story brushes away any scrutiny.

The premise is respectable, but an arbitrary flashback turns the plot into a cliché.

In the case of “Scorched Earth,” it doesn’t have the plot, acting/character development, and thematic foundations to defend it against an average moviegoer. Gina Carano was excellent in “Deadpool” because she was the intimidating enforcer that didn’t talk much. She’s the leading lady in “Scorched Earth.” If she didn’t have the support from great actors, her performance would’ve been completely intolerable. I like to believe everyone could be an actor with the right training and practice in the craft, but Carano was nowhere near ready to lead a film as a protagonist.

Star-power reaches just as far as production value in the film market. If the filmmakers want star-power over acting ability, then that’s their choice. It wasn’t a good choice for “Scorched Earth,” but I can’t knock it entirely on casting. The protagonist Gage drags down the film. Not only because of Carano’s performance but also because of the character’s development. There’s barely any, and the only way the audience has an emotional connection with Gage is through an arbitrary flashback. It’s arbitrary because of its abrupt/random introduction that, I guarantee, the writers inserted to give their boring protagonist some kind of… character. It fails and turns the plot into a clichéd piece where the theme disappears behind action-packed highlights.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE – 2

Ryan Robbins performs wonderfully as the villain.

Ryan Robbins is excellent as Thomas Jackson. Unlike Gage, Thomas Jackson is a wonderful character and a well-written villain. Any time he’s on screen, even with Gage, the scene is interesting and holds your attention. There might not have been much chemistry between Robbins and Carano, but Robbins has some chemistry with a film camera. His performance was my favorite part of the film.

Another time I was entertained was during the action scenes, where Carano got to show off why she was picked to be Gage — her martial arts skills. Gage might not be an interesting character but she can kick some major butt, and I applaud Carano for every physical endeavor she performed. They set the groundwork for her to, one day, become a fun action star. But that’s where the height of my entertainment ended. The story is cliché, despite an interesting premise, and several small technical nuances ruined my immersion. One of which is an awful audio/lip-sync for the character Melena, portrayed by Stephanie Bennett. Melena is a saloon singer. However, when she sings the voice does not match the actor’s and Bennett’s lips have a hard time matching the flow of the song. In short, it didn’t help an already crumbling experience.

REWATCHABILITY – 1

If this ever comes on SyFy, I’ll leave it on for background noise.

  • Cinematics
  • Entertainment Value
  • Rewatchability

Summary

"Scorched Earth" uses the Post-Apocalyptic genre to its advantage and also has a respectable premise filled with violence and revenge. However, there’s something missing from its underbelly. Throughout the few hours of entertainment, “Scorched Earth” suffers from a slippery grasp on the elements that make a film “good.” Add on a forgettable performance from its leading lady, and this film crumbles shortly after it begins. Only things holding it up afterward are a great villain and some action-packed scenes.

2

About The Author

Matt

Seeing "Stand By Me" at the age of 6 solidified Matt's ambition to be a part of the entertainment industry. After growing up in Northern Virginia, studying film at Old Dominion University and rising from intern to Stage Manager at a Dinner Theater, Matt found himself at a speed bump in his life and wanting to express himself in more of a substantial way than calling a cue or flying a line every night. This need for creative expression pushed him to take on the challenge of getting a Master's Degree, which sent him on a year-long endeavor that seemed to throw obstacles and setbacks from every direction. But now, Matt is a screenwriter with a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a passion for film, video games and professional wrestling, looking to keep the ambitious 6-year-old inside of him alive by entertaining the world through various forms of entertainment.

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