Tides just bad to be a water Blade runner crossed with Mad Max, but rather appears to be even more waterlogged than Water world. A soupy, post-apocalyptic Europudding that required more action, more imagination, and a star of some magnitude in the lead role, this tale of an investigation into the possibility of restoring life to a largely Earth decimated is all dark, sinister and sweaty. Premiering in the Berlinale Specials section of the Berlin Film Festival, and executable produced by Roland Emmerich, this is a very heavy piece of metal that could take flight as an acceptable generic fare here and there, but not in more demanding markets.
The necessary little story is that, during an earthly apocalypse, some humans were able to relocate to the Kepler’s colony. A few generations after and after an unsuccessful first attempt to return, a handful of humans are sent back to Earth to determine if life is possible there again. Among them is a young gung-ho woman named Blake (French actress Nora Arnezeder), who survives the hard landing of her spaceship and begins to head for what may or may not be worth describing as a civilization. A colleague arrives that far with her but ultimately fails to deal with it and commits suicide.
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The part of the world Blake finds himself in is damp, sandy and dark, a barely hospitable environment. In fact, it is found along the German Tidelands, a rarely noticed stretch along the southern North Sea coast with huge wet beaches. Almost by default, this area appears as the star of the film, as its eerie beauty and hazy change ability is eerily captivating.
Image, Arnezeder, who is little known in the United States although he has appeared in films such as Maniacal and Secure house and even more in Riviera, Origin, Mozart in the jungle and Xanadu on TV, should have been the star of Tides. But Swiss director Tim Fehlbaum, whose previous feature was Apocalypse (Hell) ten years ago, doesn’t seem to know how to use it to maximum effectiveness in a role that, under ideal circumstances, could have served as an escape element in the sense of Extraterrestrial for Sigourney Weaver.
As it stands, Blake sneaks into the compound with others among the rubble, which includes an old aircraft carrier along the beach, and ends up finding his way to see Gibson (Iain Glen, as in Jorah Mormont in Game of thrones). This gentleman was a colleague of Blake’s father on the original Kepler expedition years earlier.
Gnarled mysteries soon unfold regarding Gibson and Blake’s father, but the question of the time – or more accurately, the millennium – is whether human procreation is now possible, or soon will be, on Earth. There is a bit of downtime as we get to measure the competition between those who might become new Adams and Eves on the planet, those who are able to represent the future of humanity on Earth. The possibilities at hand do not look promising.
It is clear that Fehlbaum and his company had Mad Max: Fury Road, in particular, on the brain, but second-hand goods are not what we needed here. The concept of reinventing human life on Earth from scratch represents a tempting and exciting sci-fi challenge that unfortunately has not been embraced by filmmakers here in a seriously creative way. They thought little when big was the way to go.