Monday, November 30, 2009

The End of The Road


What is it about the apocalypse that fascinates so many of us? I happen to think that what we really fear is our own personal apocalypse, death. We are all afraid to die, but it is somehow easier to wonder if Nostradamus or the Mayans or the book of Revelations can explain away the one thing we can't avoid but can't accept either.

This past weekend I saw two Hollywood stories about the end times, 2012 and The Road. 2012 was pretty bad. Yes, I anticipated seeing a not very serious big budget action movie, but I did not anticipate ten cliches in every scene or a plot that was fairly predictable despite the phony suspense. Even special effects laden films must have characters you care about and a sense that you don't really know how it will all end. The film was also a waste of talented actors like John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson. Roland Emmerich really should stop destroying the world unless he can figure out a more clever way of doing it than to have the White House destroyed by the USS John Kennedy.

The Road was another story altogether. It stars Viggo Mortensen as a man struggling to keep himself and his young son alive after an unnamed disaster. (Some say nuclear war but others say meteor strike.) The two not only must find food and shelter but they must avoid their fellow humans, who if they are lucky will steal their meager belongings. If they are unlucky they will kill them and eat them.

The terrors in The Road are unseen. You don't see anyone munching on their neighbors rib cage, but knowing that it happens and how it happens was shown in one of the most frightening sequences I have ever seen on film. The movie could have been completely grim but the family does experience one happy event and the ending is uplifting. I also have to declare my love for Viggo Mortensen. He endorsed Dennis Kucinich after all. What's not to like?

There is one weak link among the very small cast. Charlize Theron does a good acting job as the wife and mother, but her actions don't really make sense other than to find a way to explain her absence in most of the film. Male writers love to get the pesky mom out of the picture and have a man and his son together doing what they want without any feminine interference. Having said that, I still highly recommend The Road to fans of good movies. It is well worth your time and your money.

As for the world ending in 2012, I hope I am still here in January 2013 so that I can give the finger, rhetorically, to the gullible. Some want to be raptured but then fear the millennium or the Mayans or UFOs. Some people just want to be scared. They should see a good horror movie and stop annoying the rest of us with their goofy predictions. They should also see better quality movies. That will make them much happier.