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Review: Vintage cheesiness of ‘Wastelander’ not worth the slog

Decades ago, low-budget drive-in movies tried to replicate the style and storytelling of Hollywood blockbusters, with endearingly chintzy results. These days, cheap genre films try to copy those copies, meant to appeal to anyone nostalgic for shoddiness.

If nothing else, writer-director Angelo Lopes’ science-fiction mini-epic “Wastelander” proves how computers have made it easier to produce a film for pennies with a look that would have cost a fortune 40 years ago. Unfortunately, “Wastelander” also confirms that a mediocre script still dulls even the shiniest picture.

Brendan Guy Murphy stars as the title character: a “Road Warrior”-esque post-apocalyptic wanderer who, often with the help of his foul-mouthed, painted-faced pal Solek (John Proudstar), helps good people thwart the vicious scavengers known as “the Scourge.”

Lopes’ plot is paltry, driven almost entirely by the final act’s big twist, involving a staple of this genre: the mythical paradise where everything’s as bounteous and peaceful as it was before the troubles began. The payoff to the hero’s journey is fairly clever, though not exactly original, and certainly not worth the tedium along the way.

Ultimately, “Wastelander” is a movie for fetishists, who likely won’t care about the emptiness at its center so long as its surfaces are as smothered with cheese as the straight-to-VHS junk they loved as a kid. Consider that mission accomplished — regardless of whether it was ever worth doing.

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‘Wastelander’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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