Sunday, February 28, 2010

on "the road"

I don't know why, but I've always been a sucker for the apocalypse. Maybe it's from growing up under the shadow of the Cold War. Remember "The Day After?" I was in early high school when that came out. Damn. And then you've got "The Road Warrior," which was simply one of the greatest movies of all time. And there's a few other great works with an apocalyptic theme, but I can't think of them right now. (And no, I'm not including either "The Postman" or "Water World.")

When I heard about "The Road," the recent movie with Viggo Mortensen as a nameless man trying to protect his young son in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, I was intrigued enough to track down and read the novel by Cormac McCarthy first. And really, it's a great book. I've been meaning to start reading some of Cormac McCarthy's stuff for a while now, so it worked out real well. And then I saw the movie a couple nights ago. My thoughts:

Well, it's always tough to be impartial about a movie when you've just read the book and formulated some pretty strong images of what you expect the movie will be like. And I had some very specific images, knowing that the guy from LOTR would play the main role. I wasn't expecting hobbits or anything like that, but ... it could've been better. It was all right, not too bad. I hate to be critical of child actors, but the kid who plays the son was no Dakota Fanning. But he was no Scott Baio either. Know what I mean?

The biggest thing that the movie lacked: the main character's resourcefulness. That was one of the facets of the book that made it so vivid and interesting - the shrewdness and survival instincts of this anonymous man who's been able to keep both himself and his son alive for years in a world where the sun is blotted out and nothing goes. Can't hunt for food, can't grow food. Can't collect nuts and berries. What would you do? Not to spoil it for anyone, but let's just say that *some* of the people in the book do pretty bad things. But not Viggo's character.

And I would have to say that Cormac McCarthy gets the post-apocalyptic world just about perfectly. It's hard to argue with the way that he depicts anything. He's a damn good writer. I have a few technical quibbles with the way he writes (primarily his overuse of the word "lave"), but really they're just quibbles. I'll be going back for more! I hear he's got a book about the early drug trade back in the 80's that's kinda interesting. Goes by the title of "No Country for Old Men." Maybe they should think about making it into a movie ...

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