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The Road

The Road

What he said:


I saw almost every one of the nominees for Best Picture for the 82nd Academy Awards. Frankly, I was quite surprised that a number of them were that highly praised. There were two other films that came out in 2009 that weren't even nominated for best picture and were easily better than most of them. This movie was one of them.

It is some unspecified time in the future, but not the kind of future you are thinking of. There are no flying cars, robots, or other futuristic gadgets. The world is in a lot worse shape than it is now. Some unknown event has ravaged the environment. It seems as though the planet is actually dying. Earthquakes are a regular occurrence, most of the trees on the planet are dead, and there is no animal life left. Humans are all that remain.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear something like that, I immediately go negative. Turn on the news at any given moment and you will see all kinds of things we subject ourselves and others to on a daily basis. If the government stopped existing and society fell apart, I’m fairly certain the world wouldn’t be a very nice place. That’s what this movie is about – a man and his son trying to survive in such a world.

The Road

The man (Viggo Mortensen) was alive before the disaster that changed everything occurred, so the movie is told from his perspective at two different times in his life. His wife (played by Charlize Theron) got pregnant sometime after the initial disaster, but before everything started to crumble. As time goes on and their son gets older the outside world appears to be worsening. As a result, the boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has spent his entire life up to that point in the house. They try to shelter him from the outside world – and sort of baby him in the process – which has made him a very naïve and innocent kid for his age. He looks to be around 11 or 12, but acts about half his age.  He doesn’t understand the cruelty of this new world when he and his father are faced with leaving their home to look for more food.

A lot of the movie actually revolves around looking for food. When plant life is practically extinct and animals actually are, that makes some people resort to desperate measures. People have…well… started eating other people. Cannibalism has become popular amongst most people. The people willing to go to these measures have teamed up and spend most of their time hunting down others who haven’t resorted to cannibalism. So in between searching for food, they spend a lot of their time hiding from horrible people.

Now looking for food and hiding might not sound overly exciting – and it isn’t what I’d call a fast-paced movie – but I was on the edge of my seat most of the time. For a movie that isn’t “action-packed” it’s very compelling. Watching the man and his son evade – and sometimes encounter – the savage members of the human race that remain kept my on the edge of my seat. I love a good monster movie. There’s nothing like a good scare. But sometimes the best scares comes from something so simple and I don’t know about you, but the idea of another human being wanting to eat me scares the shit out of me. And the fact that most of the people they encounter are like this is all the more terrifying.   Most of the people who remain in this shell of a world are not good people. The man is for all intents and purposes alone. He has his son, but he’s the only one of them capable of fending for himself. It just adds to the terror of the situation.

When people think of a post-apocalyptic story, there’s a tendency to think of something action-packed or filled with some sort of mutant creature. Do not go into this expecting something along those lines. I like those types as much as the next nerd, but this is a real film. It is a dark, gritty, ugly, and at times an inspirational drama. The monsters are people in this movie and they will terrify you. It is representative of what I feel exactly would happen if society as we knew it fell apart.

The Road

Even the good guys are forced to do some terrible things in this movie.  We often put ourselves in characters shoes when reading or watching a story. We say things like, “I’d never do that” or “I’d have done the same thing”. The bottom line is we don’t know. We can guess and theorize all we want, but we really don’t know until unless we were put into those situations. The man does a lot of things in this movie and you can’t blame him considering the circumstances. Even so, there are times where you think he’s a little harsh. The beauty of this story is that the boy serves as his moral compass. The man is trying to teach his son how to live in this cruel world, but the boy also attempts to show his father that there is more to living than just surviving.  

Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, and Guy Pearce play very small supporting roles. They’re about the only named actors you’d recognize. Most of the time is spent following Morstensen and Smit-McPhee’s characters. Their roles were small, but they all plays their parts very well. Charlize Theron was particularly good. As the world begins to crumble, her character doesn’t handle it well. She longs for death and actually tortures her husband for not having the “courage” to put them all out of their misery. She made me truly hate the character. The unnamed actors were all good too. Some of the people the man and his boy encountered were truly terrifying. A job well done all around.

My only complaint was that some of the dialogue was difficult to understand at times. There were a few lines that I couldn’t hear or understand at times.  

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was updated for your reading pleasure on December 8, 2013.

The Road

What she said:

The Road

I have to admit it, nowadays a lot of things remind me of Fallout 3, which may be my all-time favorite video game. It's all about post-apocalyptic life, and The Road seemed to be the movie adaptation of that game's concept. This movie very accurately (I imagine) captures the craziness and hardships of life after a worldwide catastrophic event. You feel the pain of the characters as they weigh their options for survival, or whether or not death is a better option. Visually, this movie is dark, yet vivid in its representation of life after the fallout.

This movie can be slow at times. It's not an action flick, and you shouldn't expect it to be that. It's more of a character study, although perhaps not quite that developed. There's some pretty scary circumstances in this movie, perhaps ones you haven't considered before, unless you're some sort of zombie apocalypse theorist, and so that makes this film quite interesting. This is both a movie that you experience and one that you simply sit back and witness. It's definitely worth a rent.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.