|SALT AND FIRE (director/writer: Werner Herzog; screenwriter: short story by Tom Bissell; cinematographer: Peter Zeitlinger; editor: Joe Bini; music: Ernst Reijseger ; cast: Michael Shannon (Matt Riley), Veronica Ferres (Laura Somerfeld), Gael García Bernal (Dr. Fabio Cavani), Volker Zack Michalowski (Prof. Maier), Lawrence Krauss (Krauss); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nina Maag/Werner Herzog/Michael Benaroya/Pablo Cruz; Construction Film; 2016-France/Bolivia/USA/Germany/Mexico-in English, with some German, Quechun and Spanish)|
tedious and ludicrous eco-thriller."
by Dennis Schwartz
tedious and ludicrous eco-thriller written and
directed by Werner Herzog ("Aguirre,
the Wrath of God"/"Queen of the Desert"). It relates
to mankind's negative impact on the earth. The film is
based on the short story by Tom Bissell. This is the
least appealing film from Herzog. It's filled with
trite dialogue, ponderous scenes and pointless
scientific delegation consisting of the aggressive
lead ecologist Professor Laura Somerfield (Veronica Ferres,
German actress), the scummy Dr. Cavani (Gael García
Bernal) and the tagalong
Professor Maier (Volker Zack Michalowsk)
are abducted by a menacing armed
SWAT team at the airport of an undisclosed
South American country (though it seems to be
Bolivia). At the kidnapper's retreat we learn they
were taken hostage by Matt
Riley (Michael Shannon), the CEO industrialist of
the international company known as the “Consortium.” His company
created the environment catastrophe that could
not only destroy an entire country but the whole
eco-disaster was caused by the company's chemical
wastes that have artificially
dried up a lake and the expanding
salt flats are now called “El Diablo Blanco.” That's
the place the scientists came here to investigate.
We also learn that the volcano
Uturunku may be on the verge of exploding and if that
happens it will probably destroy the world because of
its fires. So we are in imminent danger of the Earth
being destroyed by salt and fire, which anyway
explains the title.
second part of the film features Laura stranded
at the vast Uyuni salt flats on a rising cactus island
in the company of two small blind brothers from
Bolivia (supposedly blinded by fumes emanating
from the flats), with enough water and supplies for a
colleagues are kept back with diarrhea, and
thereby are not as lucky as the viewers to see where
all this is going in the final reveal.
the breathless spectacle can take your mind
off the dull narrative.
Krauss (real-life Arizona State
scientist) is in a campy supporting role as a
sometimes wheelchair-bound brainy henchman to Riley,
who can't act a lick but gives the best performance
here because it's so artlessly bad.
As fiction this film makes no sense. Herzog would have spared us from this disaster if he just made a documentary and made it clear what he was trying to say.
REVIEWED ON 3/30/2017 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ