Obitaemyy ostrov: Skhvatka [Inhabited Island 2: Rebellion](2009)

(aka: Dark Planet: Rebellion; The Inhabited Island: Mêlée;

The Inhabited Island: Skirmish)

This is part two of the recent adaptation of a novel by the Russian SF writers, Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, a film I suspect may have been made at the same time as part one.

While the first film (see my review here) ended on a hopeful note, the second seems a far darker and less simplistic film.  The hero, “Mak Sim” (aka, Maxim) had driven off into the wastelands, hoping to find allies in his fight to overthrow the tyranny of “The Unknown Fathers.”

Only, in part two, he learns the mutants won’t be able to help, and the Father’s adversary in their endless war, the Island Empire, is probably even worse.  He finds himself pushed into the war as a conscript with a very short life expectancy, and before long, his best friend dies,.

I was mildly surprised at the end when Maxim launched into yet another extravagant display of his superior athletic abilities.  They had been used extensively throughout the first film, with a number of Matrix-like action sequences.  But they hadn’t been used much in part two, until the final sequences featuring a raid on the center controlling the brainwashing broadcasts, and an epic final battle against one of the rulers who had a secret that would test even Maxim’s buoyant spirit.

The director, Fyodor Bondarchuk, has a major part here as one of the Fathers, the State Prosecutor, who is often referred to (sarcastically) as “Smart Man”

The ending is particularly dark, with Maxim learning terrible secrets not merely about his new home, but about the Earth itself. I find it intriguing that the Marxist theory of history shows up again (see my review of The Witches Cave), this time to justify the actions – as well as the lack of actions – taken by Earth.

All in all, it is an intriguing film that is beautiful and well made, while presenting us with a reasonably complex plot and a few uncomfortable things to think about.  It is neither a classic nor a disaster, merely a big, sprawling epic SF film that has a lot going for it.  And it doesn’t really hurt that it is shorter than part one.

I have to admit that I do like the fact that in the beginning of part one, Maxim is presented as more or less spoiled, living a life free from all responsibility, while by the end of the two films, he is forced to set aside much of his idealism by his sense of responsibility for the world he has been forced to live on.  We normally don’t see that sort of character change in big budget SF films in the U.S.

I guess there are some things a huge wad of cash can’t easily buy.





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