Two of the big three international trades have given Toa Fraser’s The Dead Lands a solid thumbs up after its premiere screenings in Toronto.
Regular readers of international reviews will in no way be surprised that Variety’s reviewer was the least impressed of those representing the major trades. With very few exceptions in the last half-decade, Variety reviews of NZ films have been less than positive.
Variety’s Dennis Harvey described the film as “brutal to the brink of monotony”, while acknowledging a number of positives.
Screen International’s Mark Adams also noted the amount of fighting, calling The Dead Lands
a fast-paced tale of honour and revenge that doesn’t shirk when it comes to offering up bone-crunching battles and blood-thirsty martial arts scenes
Adams’ overall assessment was
Director Toa Fraser has crafted an exhilarating action romp, punctuated by stylish and crunching fight sequences.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Deborah Young called the film a “dazzling action adventure”, offering as the bottom line:
Heightened performances give an epic edge to a sumptuously photographed coming-of-age tale fired by honor and revenge
Young also acknowledged the violence in various sequences in the film, saying, “The high level of testosterone unleashed in these combat sequences points to a young male audience, but the visuals and the acting are rich enough to capture the fancy of any viewer who tunes in to fantasy-adventure.”
After its time in Toronto, The Dead Lands will play the BFI’s London Film Festival before its NZ release on 30 October.