Post Apocalyptic Double Feature! “The Road” and “Book of Eli” 2009.

“The Road”  Dir. John Hilcoat.  With Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce.

The novel by Cormac McCarthy is a story about hopelessness and desperation – asking us the question what’s the point of enduring, what’s the point of continuing hope?  I had worried that the film adaptation wouldn’t be as raw and as graphic as the novel.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  The film is about a Man and his child walking a burnt earth in the age of the apocalypse.  They encounter cannibals and other packs of horrible people during their journey to the coast.

Viggo Mortensen has never been better.  Every move he makes as Man shows us the true craft that Martensen has as a very gifted actor.  The film cuts back and forth between current time, and the time Man spent with his wife (Theron).  Time spent when the world was still beautiful, a time when there was innocence left on earth.  As time progresses in the film, as does the flashbacks that the Man has about his wife giving birth to their son, while the apocalypse is occurring outside their home.  We see the struggles they endure, while the Woman doesn’t want to bring a new life into a world of such chaos and such malice, the man brings her to do it, to give birth to their son.

The subject matter is so dark and bleak.  It’s one of the most depressing films that I have ever seen.  To see the decisions that the man is forced to make; he carries a gun with only two bullets left, one of him, and one for his son.  One of the greatest things about this film that makes it work is there is no explanation of what caused this, what brought this upon earth?

The acting in this film is filled with great supporting performances around Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee who plays Mortensen’s son. Robert Duvall has a short but brilliant role as an Old Man who is blind, who walks the road alone.  Duvall acts as a prophet, speaking beautiful words of wisdom – yet showing us how bleak humanity has become.  I have been long calling a prediction that the Academy will nominate Duvall for Best Supporting Actor for this film.  Guy Pearce’s part is just as excellent (I don’t want to give any spoilers away).

I felt that “The Road” used actors in small roles very well, it didn’t seem distracting at all.  The plot, and main characters were so interesting that these mysterious supporting characters only enriched that of the main.  I felt that “The Hurt Locker” didn’t do this, that the cameos by Fiennes, Pearce and Morse were too distracting, making the best parts of that film.  Duvall, Theron and Pearce only enlighten “The Road” to excel even more.

The film asks us tough questions.  I felt it asks us if God exists, and if there is a God, it wouldn’t be one that we’d want.  It’s amazing how films like these can challenge us, can make us still have hope after reveling there isn’t any.  Even if it’s still a false hope, I still have one.  I mean, I’d follow Guy Pearce too.

Review: 9/10.

“The Book of Eli”.  Dir. Hughes Brothers.  With Denzel Washington Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, and Gary Oldman.

“The Book of Eli” stars Denzel Washington as a mysterious stranger who holds the last Bible left on Earth.  Gary Oldman plays a man who is trying to rebuild society, and knows the power that the Bible holds, and wants that power all to himself.  He’s the leader of this little town that Eli walks into to get a battery charged by the towns engineer (Tom Waites).  He eventually meets with Gary Oldman who has looked for the Bible since the “flash”, he’s collecting books, sending raiding parties out in search for books.  The film drops hints about a war that ended all wars.  The earth is scortched from the sun, everyone wears sunglasses, even Eli explains that the war was said to have been started over the book he carries.

It’s such a great idea, a great plot.  Gary Oldman gives one of his best performances as the evil villain Carnagey who knows the power that the Bible consist off.  Oldman is just so excellent at playing these eccentric villains and is sadly the only saving grace in what could have been a great film.

The major fault of the film is it’s execution, it tends to drag at times and doesn’t feel well paced.  The film excels on the scenes that involve action, and Eli fighting off “road warriors” who are seeking the Bible. The part of the film that is wretchedly distracting is that of Mila Kunis, she’s so poorly cast, and her character isn’t even needed in the film.  I understand why she’s there, and the appeal of a scantily clad young women in a film, but this film didn’t need that, or deserve it.  Kunis is just downright distracting in the film.  She sucks the life out of Denzel Washington, having to carry the scenes that she’s in.

I am a very big fan of the post apocalypic films.  This film had the makings of greatness, but in the end it lacked, and you totally understand why it was released in January.  But once I saw the Gary Oldman poster, I was sold.   It’s still somewhat of a fun film to watch, especially watching the brilliant Gary Oldman.

Review: 6/10.

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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

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