Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Home Entertainment Review: The Humanity Bureau

The Humanity Bureau stems from so many other dystopian sci-fi films we've all seen before. There's remnants of The Island, Logan's Run, The Road, The Book of Eli, and so many others. Now mix that with a dose of Donald Trump's wall-building politics and you have a somewhat entertaining action film with a sense of social commentary to make you think.

In the near future, global warming turns parts of the American Midwest into a desert. In its attempt to take hold of the economic recession, a government agency called the Humanity Bureau exiles members of society deemed unproductive, and banishes them to a colony known as New Eden. An ambitious and impartial caseworker Noah Kross (Nicolas Cage) investigates a case appealed by a single mother (Sarah Lind) and her son (Jakob Davies). Knowing the unjust fate of the innocent boy, Kross sets off to save the lives of the mother and child in The Humanity Bureau.

Nicolas Cage has made a career out of releasing what seems like one straight-to-DVD movie a month. The Humanity Bureau is one of those hundreds of films. Cage puts his best foot forward here, though. No matter how much he got paid to play Noah Kross, he puts forth a great effort in his emotional range and acts as if this low-budget piece will be debuting in thousands of theaters worldwide. The rest of the cast acts just as invested in their roles as Cage does.

What little CGI there is in The Humanity Bureau is not impressive. Drones are used at times and they look unimpressive and very much pasted into the scenes. All other effects look to be practical and give the movie an organic feel. When someone is driving, it's shot from the front much like old classic films, where it looks like the vehicle is on a set in front of a background projection. Some would say this looks cheap, while others would cracka small nostalgic style when seeing it.

The Humanity Bureau is rated R for Violence. It also contains profanity and frightening and intense scenes. There's quite a bit of gunplay and a couple headshots.

I would recommend The Humanity Bureau to those who have ran out of other dystopian sci-fi films with a socially relevant edge to watch. It's not the worst thing you could waste an hour and a half on and does try to offer some food for thought. It's visually not hard to watch, although its digitally-shot limitations do show and some of the camerawork feels a bit amatuerish. However, at other times you really get sucked in to its blend of futureworld aesthetics and spaghetti western connections.

Only one bonus feature is included with the Blu-ray and DVD release of The Humanity Bureau. The Making of The Humanity Bureau featurette takes us behind the scenes of the film with cast and crew interviews and footage. It also digs into the process of shooting the film using VR and unique panoramic cameras. Of course, none of this matters when seeing the movie on a television screen. It's sort of unfortunate for those who worked on the project and tried to do something a bit more interesting and out of the box when it comes to camerawork. 

The Humanity Bureau is directed by Rob W. King (Distorted, Tokyo Flats) from a script by Dave Schultz (Rufus, Jet Boy). It stars Nicolas Cage, Sarah Lind (Taken, Fargo), Jakob Davies (Once Upon a Time, Supernatural), and Hugh Dillon (Twin Peaks, The Expanse). The movie runs 95 minutes.