It has been said that I have a very unhealthy obsession with the end of the world. From A-Bombs to zombies the apocalypse has always been a staple of storytelling for filmmakers. For me, no matter the catalyst for armageddon, breaking down the fragile veil that binds humanity is an interesting examination.
There have been many iterations of the end of the world on the big screen but a few stand out above the rest. Mad Max, Omega Man and a couple of the Planet of the Apes films to name a few but there are a few recent films that have had certain panache at satisfying my need to watch humanity at its most vulnerable.
By no means is this a review, just three particular movies that I have watched recently that I feel have not received the attention that they deserve. Ranging from bizarre to frankly unnerving the following films delve into the true nature of mankind on the cusp of extinction.
Starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell and Kang-ho Sung. Snowpiercer is a zany and eclectic mix of filmmaking. A French story, Korean director and a whole plethora of English actors make up what is one of the most original pieces of cinema that I have seen in a long time.
On board a train that perpetually travels around the globe keeping the remaining humans safe from the sub-arctic temperatures of a ravaged earth, a divided class system has evolved. Those at the back of the train survive by eating protein block rations and living in squalor, whilst the ones at the front feast on steak and enjoy luxuries like classical music.
Snowpiercer is an interesting exploration of social structure. It is a harsh reality of what we are capable of when we unite and a reminder how precious a necessary balance is. After some terrible atrocities befall the back section of the train, Evans leads a group of rebels to fight their way to the front. Guards and locked doors stand in their way but a passenger kept in stasis may be the only hope for freedom.
Based on the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige” Snowpiercer was picked up by Korean director Joon-ho Bong (The Host). You can feel both cultures ooze through the aesthetic of the picture and with some expertly shot set pieces and beautiful set design, Snowpiercer is a gritty, violent and in some instances a darkly funny movie.
Recommended to me by a friend, this gut wrenching piece has quickly moved up the ranks in my favourite movies. With some stellar performances by Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Eklund and the claustrophobia of the setting allows the characters to bounce off of each other with disturbing accord.
When the bombs start going off, a group of tenants take refuge in the superintendent’s basement, there the difference in personalities start to take its toll. When faced with an uncertain future tensions run high and after some men in white bio-suits turn up, take a child and seal the basement shut, things start to degrade into survival of the sickest.
To be fair, The Divide is a b-movie but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, especially when you get performances like Michael Eklund’s. You would expect Milo Ventimiglia of be the stand out cast member and as good as he is in a very different roll from his normal god guy routine, Eklund became an actor that I crave to see more of after this outing.
His transformation throughout the movie is worth watching alone. His evolution from a street punk bad guy to psychopath that is akin to Buffalo Bill is terrifying. I implore anyone who likes post-apocalyptic movies to add this one to your must watch list.
Written by one of the greatest authors of our generation, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is one the bleakest stories you could ever have the good fortune to watch. A sublime, almost perfect adaptation from the novel, The Road is a beautifully crafted film that manages to make you hate it as much as love it. When I finished reading the book I was glad it was finished but then I found myself missing it and the relationship between the man and his son.
The movie plays out almost identical to the novel which is enlightening, especially these days when source material can be thrown to the side in favour for artistic licence. With this we do get some truly depressing scenes as man teaches his son how to survive on his own for the day he inevitably dies in the harsh wastelands.
The Road is a perfect example of what lengths parents would go to protect their children, the man even teaches the boy how to kill himself should the dire need arise.
The interesting point of the story is that the man doesn’t have a real agenda, he is trying to reach the coast in the hope that something better may be there. They travel across America with only a shopping cart and a gun with two bullets that are reserved for a last resort. The savage world in which they live is also populated by opportunists and cannibals but through the man’s teachings the boy has learnt to trust no one.
There is a reason why the book won awards and the film is a fine adaptation that shows filmmakers that it is possible to keep true to a story without compromise. In my personal opinion, The Road is one of the greatest films ever made.