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The Rover

The Rover

What She said:

She

The post-apocalyptic future seems like a pretty terrifying place.  At least if we are to believe movies, books, and video games in their interpretation of what things will be like.  There will be chaos, murder, and a lack of organized government or rule.  As such, the weakest will quickly perish, and the stronger ones will either hunker down and survive independently from one another or wander around as ravenous scavengers.  In The Rover we meet some of the second—people who seem to be wandering around post-apocalyptic Australia doing whatever it takes to live.  At least, that’s what I think they’re doing.  To be honest, I was a little confused about the characters of this story or their motivations, as they were largely underdeveloped.  But anyway, the film is an interesting look at how people survive “after the fall.”  But it’s also extremely flawed.

We open in a dry and baron Australia, 10 years after the collapse of the global economy.  The setting could easily be the desserts of Southern California rather than the Australian outback, because in this new world the boundaries of different countries, cultures, and communities have been blurred.  There are all sorts of people from a variety of backgrounds living in this harsh and inhospitable place.  We meet this loner dude, Eric, who has stopped to grab a bite to eat.  While he’s off doing his business, his car is stolen by a group of robbers fleeing from a job gone bad.  One of them, Henry, has been shot, and apparently his brother Rey was left at the scene of the crime, presumably killed. 

Eric strikes me as a cold, calculated type of guy, and yet he’s outfitted in Eddie Bauer digs.  Anyway, he does not take kindly to Henry and crew stealing his car, and so he hops into the robbers’ battered vehicle, catches up to them, and forces them to pull over.  There is a heated exchange, and Eric is left unconscious on the ground.  But Eric cannot be deterred so easily.  He comes to, jumps back into his borrowed truck, and begins cruising along the highway, stopping along the way to follow leads as to which direction the robbers went with his car.

While stopped in one location, Eric encounters Rey, who is waiting by his brother’s truck—you know, the one that Eric is now driving.  He’s bleeding badly and in and out of consciousness.  Eric sees Rey as his key to finding Henry’s whereabouts and getting his car back, and so he brings the young man to a doctor and begins to milk him for information.  Along the way, the two men encounter all sorts of scary folk.  But it’s important to recognize that Eric may be the scariest of them all.  His kill switch is disturbingly easy to trigger.  Rey is resentful that his brother left him, and so he is also eager to track him down.  Eric and Rey thusly two team up for an epic journey that is sure to end in heartbreak.

The Rover

So there’s your premise.  Some more detail about our characters.  Eric is scary.  He may look like your typical dad—aside from the scruffy post-apocalyptic beard—but he’s disturbed in a very serial killer kind of way.  At one point, he tells a soldier that he murdered his wife and nobody seemed to care.  It’s very odd.  In the meantime, we also have Rey, who seems to be slightly mentally handicapped.  It’s hard to figure out if the kid is just a little goofy, or if he has some legit mental disabilities.  He may very well just be suffering from extreme Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, having spent some of his most formative years in this warped and extremely violent world.  Either way, he’s slightly annoying but also someone you’ll feel sorry for.

The other characters in this movie just sort of come and go.  None are particularly important, aside from Rey’s brother, Henry.  But even he only has about 5 minutes of actual screen time.  We don’t get to learn too much about the dynamic between Rey and his brother, except for what we hear from Rey himself.  Unfortunately, I had trouble understanding Rey—or any other character in this movie for that matter.  There was a lot of heavy accents and mumbling.  I had to do my best to figure out what the heck was going on and what these people were thinking.  Even so, we don’t get a whole lot in the way of character background in The Rover, and we certainly don’t get much in the way of character development.  In fact, I spent nearly two hours with these people and feel like I don’t know them any better than when I started. 

On the upside, we do finally learn why Eric is so hot to get his car back.  I had assumed there was something in his car that he desperately needed, or that meant a whole lot to him, and that is, in fact, the case.  However, upon the revelation, I was sorely disappointed.  It was just…kind of…stupid.  I guess, if I really want to read into it, what Eric was fighting so hard to get back represented the kind of man that he is now—void of real feelings or sentiment toward other humans.  I know that was intentional, and I see the meaning there, but I still felt shortchanged considering I’d poured two hours of my time into waiting out this movie. 

On all levels, I was really hoping for something more from The Rover.  It’s not a total bust, but it’s also not all that it could be.  There’s plenty of violence, foul language, and murder, but not enough backstory, or character or plot development for my liking.

Thumbs mostly down.

The Rover

What He said:

He
The Rover

I didn’t realize this, but this is the 2nd post-apocalyptic movie we’ve watched in a row (Snowpiercer review here). We made no conscious effort to do that. I wanted to see the movie because I like the genre, obviously, and I think Guy Pearce is a good actor. I was also curious to see what Robert Pattinson would do in a much more serious role.

The movie doesn’t say what happened, which is fine by me, but it appears the global economy has collapsed. The only thing we know is that the world resembles a much more Old West style of life. There’s still some kind of military, but people don’t hesitate to do whatever they want whenever they want. The other thing we know is that U.S. currency appears to be to most popular means for purchasing goods or services, even in Australia, where this movie takes place.

The story follows a guy named Eric (Guy Pearce). He’s sitting in some kind of food/beverage establishment minding his own business when his car is stolen by a group of three men.

These men have committed some kind of robbery – like I said the law is rather lax in this dismal future. It doesn’t say a whole lot, but it’s clear they took something that doesn’t belong to them, and one of them didn’t make it. They were panicking, arguing, and crashed their getaway vehicle, so take the first one they set their eyes on.

Eric gets in the nearest vehicle and quietly, but a scary quiet not a calm quiet, pursues them. They pull over and despite the fact that they are armed, he confronts them. He doesn’t demand to get his car back, he states that he’s going to take it. Without giving too much away, he doesn’t get the car, but that doesn’t quell his determination to get it back.
Eric decides that in order to be able to compete with his adversaries, he needs a gun. He stops at an opium den and meets all kind of weirdoes.  Now, I had no idea that this was an opium den, I only read that in the plot summary. Watching the movie itself, there was nothing about it that indicated it was an opium den. It just came off like a house full of odd individuals. Anyway, he comes into contact with a midget, a weird old woman, and a silent but deadly pair of Chinese fellas who were either siblings or lovers. Maybe both?

The Rover

Along the way, he picks up a straggler. He meets a young man named Rey, who has been shot. Rey (Robert Pattinson) turns out to be the 4th man from the robbery – the one who was left behind. He’s also the brother of one of the other men. Eric takes him to a doctor, because he wants him healed up in order to lead him to the guys who stole his car. He is sort of Eric’s hostage, but they also form a bizarre friendship. One minute Eric is grabbing him violently and threatening him, the next he’s telling Rey his brother abandoned him and doesn’t care about him.

The movie is really simply just about their journey across the country and what happens when they reach Rey’s brother and his gang. I’m not saying that as if it’s a bad thing. Simple plots can be just fine.

The problem with this movie was that it was boring. Damn boring. This movie had all the element of a good post-apocalyptic flick. It was gritty, violent, and filled with madness. There were some truly bizarre characters in this movie, which is appropriate given the environment. If books and movies are right, and common sense tells me they are, if society collapse, it isn’t going to be pretty. The cynic in me doesn’t have enough faith in humanity that people would behave themselves. Even the acting was good. Guy Pearce was a cold, distant, and a just plain nasty guy. Pattinson, whose character was clearly mentally handicapped, did a really good job of playing this child-like, but dangerous character. I thought he showed some good range playing this character. It’s obvious he’s taking on roles that distance himself from Twilight. Even the supporting roles and background characters I mentioned early were well-acted. But good God, this movie was boring. Simplicity is fine, but not enough happens in the movie to keep it interesting. I was nodding off during the middle of it. I didn’t like this movie and I didn’t want to dislike it. It had all the elements this genre needs to be good – it was just totally uninteresting.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on September 19, 2014.

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