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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 04.18.08] post apocalyptic movie review

Year: 2008
Release date: Unknown
Director: Mathew Hope
Writer: Mathew Hope
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

In a world where it's virtually impossible to walk into any woodland area without bumping into the crew of some z-grade zombie production it's perhaps not a huge stretch that The Vanguard, a film which shows both visual and political astuteness, would come across as refreshingly original. In fact, despite its low budget leanings, The Vanguard manages to exhilarate the senses with some inventively photographed (and gory) action sequences as well as create a plausible world of worst case scenarios where, in the face of massive worldwide oil shortages, corporate corruption has made the chances of human survival seems pretty slim indeed. And with a back story concerning a great war between East and West over the last remaining Oil deposits, Mathew Hope manages to bring a scary sense of realism to the story without going all George Clooney on you and hitting you over the head with its political message. Further proof that less is more and subtlety can go a long way, particularly when you should be paying more attention to zombie mayhem anyway. Now onto The Vanguard.

According to the plethora of interviews I've read in our continued following of this project, The Vanguard was originally born from director Mathew Hope's desire to make a simple survivalist drama about a modern man forced to survive as a hunter gatherer. Inspired perhaps by authors like David Morrell, whose novel First Blood portrayed a man forced into the wild by an intolerant society, some of The Vanguard's finest moments are in its first half hour when we see Max, the solitary and spiritual samurai-like warrior, going about his daily routine. Of course his daily routine also includes having to behead the odd genetically enhanced Biosyn, a new race of murderous crazies created by "The Corporation" as a way of dealing with the world's overpopulation crisis.

When they happen, Max's encounters with the Biosyns are quick and brutal and often result in someone loosing a few limbs. It's in these moments that Hope uses the hand held technique to great effect giving the onslaughts a frantic sense of urgency and unpredictability. The Biosyns also move and look unlike anything we've seen before which is great. Apparently some of the makeup FX were done by Paul Hyett who worked on the Descent and, according to Hope, was even kind enough to donate a bucket of blood that had gone unused in that film to the crew of The Vanguard. So there you go, these British sickos are all part of a tightly nit community.

But unfortunately, as finely crafted as the film is, it is not without its flaws. For one thing the film's narrative engine tends to start and stall unpredictably. Particularly when Max meets up with a beleaguered member of The Corporation's personal army does the film tend to loose its sense of direction. For a long time, the characters seem to wander aimlessly in the wilderness simply waiting for the next encounter with either Biosyns or the army to occur. I wouldn't go so far as to say it ever gets boring or anything as all the grand ideas are still there, but there is a definite sense of missed opportunity what with such an epic and original post-apocalyptic set up and all.

Where and when you'll all be able to see The Vanguard is currently up in the air. It's been playing the festival circuit and gaining a lot of coverage and acclaim so it might not be long before the good people at Imagination Worldwide (who were kind enough to give us this exclusive first look) find some distro for it.

DVD UPDATE ALERT: Sounds like Anchor Bay has picked up the rights to The Vanguard which is simply awesome news. That means we'll get a great release that'll also be widely available. Nicely done.

Oh yeah, and I wanted to mention that Mark Delany's original score is simply perfect. Being highly percussive, it really lends to the overall intensity of the movie.

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Cyberhal (14 years ago) Reply

sounds cool. how do the Biosyns move in a different way?


agentorange (14 years ago) Reply

REALLY fast, on all fours, and in a sideways run like a charging gorilla on meth. Yeah, it's that scary.


quietearth (14 years ago) Reply

This film is very stylish and straight up awesome. I love the pimp bike and the elvis shades.


Cyberhal (14 years ago) Reply



MomWhoDoesnotLikeZombie (13 years ago) Reply

I didn't liked it at all. I didn't understand the story at all and I taugth it was the American Army against all the world.


Fox of the Jackals (13 years ago) Reply

Love the movie! My friends even say I look like Max (the main guy). And the hatchet fighting was awesome!


ManimalX (13 years ago) Reply

Another Wal-Mart impulse buy. Not TOO bad for $10, but I would give it an overall rating of.... meh.

Vanguard begins with promise, amateur looking but COOl amateur looking, if you know what I mean. The story has potential and the acting is actually pretty decent, but it ultimately falls flat due to some really bad editing and directing. There were multiple "what the.... what just happened?" moments for both me and my wife. Unfortunately, many of those moments are building up to the climax, which would be pretty cool if it wasn't preceded by a bunch of poorly edited scenes and glaring plot holes.

On a positive note, the adrenaline injection scene was outstanding, and Max is a pretty intriguing character throughout the whole film.

Overall, give it a spin on a rainy Saturday afternoon, but don't expect to be dazzled by awesomeness.


Kyle Reynolds (10 years ago) Reply

I'm trying to find the name of a post apocalyptic movie for a friend. It was rec'ed by Netflix last night and I thought, "Hey, Kay would like that" and I navigated away from it and now it's never come up today! It had a gas mask on the cover and was about some family that needed another family (possibly for something biological, like the kids needed to be around these other kids and some of them were contaminated and I know that's vague) but it was made in 2011. I remember that. Please help if you know and thanks!

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