Furries or Cannibals? You decide! Or I will. Cuz I decided to not really review “Avatar” so that I could talk about “The Road” instead.
I think I’ve seen more movies in November and December than I have in all of the rest of 2009. Looking back on it, it’s kind of ridiculous. I suppose that I’ve finally managed to find an abundance of free time, which coincides with all of the holiday releases for this year. I refer to, of course, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, James Cameron’s Avatar, and finally The Road. The first two you got some reviews for already, so I won’t say anything more about those, but I am going to get into (some) detail about the last two.
Avatar. James Cameron’s Avatar. What can be said, other than the meager review I want to give you before I can move onto the more interesting movie The Road? Not too much, I’m afraid. Two things come to mind; (1) Dances with Wolves demonstrated the plot “message” better without all the fuss and bother of being IN SPACE (and with less awkward hanky-panky), and (2) I honestly thought that “unobtamium” was a joke. Like, really. See it in 3D if you must, but if I have to have a pick of the year, then it will be far from my mind.
The Road. Now the real review begins…
Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, The Road stars Viggo Mortensen and a bunch of other actors that I don’t really know very well in an interesting and fresh take on the apocalypse. Not to say that the movie is about the apocalypse, because it isn’t. I would not have enjoyed it so much if it had been so cut and dry. No, it was about the fight to survive fought bravely by a loving father and an adoring son.
To quote my good-friend and partner in crime Ben Berumez (LLC), The Road isn’t just a movie or a flick, but a film. A true, honest to goodness film. It entertained me, engrossed me in its world, and was able to hold me by the scruff of my emotions. There are several reasons for its success, which are attributed to just having a cast and crew which knew how to make a good film.
Everything the movie tried to do, it did right. Even though most of the movie consists of the father and son just walking around, something wasalways happening. When things had been too peaceful, the story would up the ante with an encounter with hostile survivors. When your heart is about to burst forth from its cage, then things calm down and you can enjoy the journey. If they’re walking through a nameless town, then important expository dialog is shared between the two. If no one is talking, then the settings and visuals told the story without dialog. The child wasn’t an annoying imp, screeching like Dakota Fanning in The War of the Worlds. The suspense was the sublime sort which I prefer, the fear of what can’t be seen as opposed to what can be. Every angle was covered, and every second was filled with something meaningful.
The Road is not for the faint of heart; with all food supplies having disappeared from the Earth, humanity has taken to intense scavenging and even cannibalism to satisfy their hunger. The act is never shown on screen, but there are a few associated scenes that I do not care to see again anytime soon. However, they added a reality to the world that a lawless and foodless world that humanity is put through. Hobbes’ Leviathan and Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” both come to mind. Also, the writing and acting makes emotional connections with the characters easy to develop. If you usually get deeply invested in characters in a movie, then the ending lap of the movie may jerk some tears.
However, amidst all the darkness and despair Viggo Mortensen and whatever that kid’s name was provided a strong a case of the enduring nature of the goodness in humanity. The Father and Son take the harder road of scavenging for food rather than digressing into mindless cannibalism. Why do they do this? According to the Son, the two of them are “the good guys.”
Of course, like any fight for survival, the Father and Son are faced with tough decisions. Sure, from time to time, they don’t help out the odd survivor or the revolver-assisted act of defense. But, as time goes by, things seem to become a little more gray than just being the good guys. How the Father and Son reconcile this, however, I’ll let you go see the movie to go find out.
If you can handle it, then I suggest you go see it. It was one of the better movies of the year, even though I’m not sure I want to experience again any time soon. I hope that the movie does well, so that Hollywood realizes that intelligent, thought-provoking movies are good and should be rewarded.
But, to quote the great philosopher, theologian, and manicurist Dave Barry, I wouldn’t bet on it.