I recently watched two movies both with a similar theme so I thought to review them here together. Both films concern the end of the world and probably anyone interested in one might want to see the other.The first is The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington. Washington stars as the title character traveling through a sun baked apocalyptic wasteland, fighting starvation, thirst and roaming highway gangs so that he can deliver "The Book" to "where it is needed". Gary Oldman also stars as a charismatic leader intent on taking the book from him so that he can use it to control the last remnants of society.
The second film reviewed is The Road starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee and is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy. The story concerns a father and son and their efforts to stay alive in a world dying around them.
WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD
Of the two The Book of Eli would definitely be more palatable to the average moviegoer. While not really an action movie there is enough of it to keep the film moving and from becoming boring. Big name stars, memorable scenes and dialog, a (somewhat) hopeful ending, this is the more "Hollywood" of the two productions and most viewers, whether a fan of this genre or not, would find it enjoyable enough.
And then there is The Road; despite both films having a similar subject matter they couldn't be further apart. The world of The Road is an ashen gray wasteland and at times in the movie you might actually wonder if it was filmed in black and white. But the pallid colors of the film are only a backdrop for its bleak narrative. In The Road nearly every living thing is gone, all but a few human survivors. Forests and crops have been devastated, never to return, animal life has been wiped out, the Sun is forever hidden, depriving the world of warmth and light. Through an unexplained catastrophe the world we know is long gone. Ten years have passed and all that remain are the slowly starving survivors, all knowing that the world is dying and eventually they will to, their only options scavenging, cannibalism or suicide. The father and son with the goal to "head south" wander this wasteland trying to avoid contact with "bad guys" and to just live one more day. The father desperately trying to protect his son and at the same time trying to prepare him for the inevitable time that he won't be there to care for him.
Despite minor issues I had with some story details, in order that it could have its "surprise" ending, I did enjoy The Book of Eli and would recommend it. Any fan of science fiction in general will like it and would expect many viewers that don't normally watch this type of film would still find it entertaining.
After watching The Road though I still can't say if I would recommend it or not. I can't honestly even say if I liked it or not. I can say that it is a disturbing and emotionally powerful film; the ideas and imagery will linger in your mind long after seeing it. The abject horror of it all will remain with you. There are several unsettling moments throughout the film, one that immediately comes to mind is a scene where the father has to quickly decide between killing the son he loves or let him be taken by cannibals. That scene and others aren't easily forgotten. The movie is slowly paced and as mentioned the depressing tone can weigh heavy on you. The film doesn't really have a story and that is the point of The Road, there is none, the "story" is the relationship between Father and Son. Both Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee are excellent actors and are up to the difficult task, they bring the horror, tragedy and yes at times even inspiring moments in this film and bring them to life. The story of the father, who nearly loses his humanity while trying to assure his and his son's survival, and the son who represents the best of humanity and those traits that deserve tosurvive. If you should decide to watch The Road I can't say that you will enjoy it, but I doubt you ever forget it.