Movie Review: Bogged down saving a dying Earth in “2067”

A cautionary eco-parable wrapped in a seriously dull and myopic time-travel thriller, “2067” bogs down early on in questions of “fate” and “determinism,” and never tears itself free of that bog.

This Australian tale has maybe the best traveling-through-time sequence the recent cinema has managed, and a tedious talky story on the other side of that jump.

Or in this case, “throw.” That’s how the scientists describe what they want to do with tunnel electrician Ethan Whyte, played in a cadaverous, end-of-days daze by Kodi Smit-McPhee (“Let Me In”).

In 2067, the Earth is literally breathing its last. “The last tree has been logged in the Amazon,” news reports tell us. The planet is gasping, the lights have gone out and only a lone city in Australia flickers on.

Everybody is living off artificial oxygen, and spitting up blood as they get “the sickness,” a worrisome side effect for ChronicCorp.

Kudos to the stoner who got that name in there. Writer-director Seth Larney, was it you?

Ethan, who lost his scientist dad (Aaron Glenane) when he was little, is “humanity’s only chance.” They’ve got this time portal, and a message from the future. “Send Ethan Whyte,” even if the woman in charge of the project (Deborah Mailman of “The Sapphires”) admits, “We don’t know yet how to bring you back.”

As he’s got a dying wife (Sana’a Shaik) and humanity is nearing its bitter end, Ethan lets them “throw” him forward 400 or so years. His workmate Jude (Ryan Kwanten) follows shortly, which really does make that whole “humanity’s last hope” pitch a lie, doesn’t it?

Never mind. The verdant, overgrown world they must make their way through has a reactor that’s going to melt down and a “cure” they need time to find. If only there weren’t these troubling corpses, more troubling holographic messages from the past and a general confusion about what they should do, whether they’ve tried this before and failed, and whether there’s any point to any of it.

I liked the kudzu-covered production design, the glimpses of ruined cities returned to nature that’s been common in sci-fi since “The Time Machine” and “Planet of the Apes” and “Logan’s Run.”

But writer-director Larney’s limited budget didn’t do his “vision” any favors. The settings are few and the scenario is eaten up with Ethan and Jude arguments, time travel paradox discussions and the like.

Flashbacks, jumps in point of view back to the hellish Earth they left, don’t change the picture’s limited focus and narrow aims.

Smit-McPhee ratchets up the pathos here and there, but I found the film emotionally barren, repetitive and tedious after a while.

We get the message, that we’re wrecking the planet a lot faster than even the most pessimistic among us ever thought.

The idea that Australia will be the last place to succumb pre-dates “Mad Max.” Think “On the Beach.”

And dangling time travel as the “Hail Mary” that could save us seems as intellectually lazy as complete denial, even if it is slightly more cinematic.

MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, profanity

Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ryan Kwanten, Deborah Mailman, Sana’a Shaik, Aaron Glenane, Finn Little and Leeanna Walsman

Credits: Directed by Seth Larney, script by Seth Larney and Dave Paterson. An RLJE release.

Running time: 1:54

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