2009

Movie Review: Crank 2: High Voltage

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You know how most action sequels have a tendency to trump the original in terms of blood, bullets and boobs? Well CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE does it in spades and considering the insanity of the first it’s a wonder Neveldine/Taylor were able to get away with half of it. The “wtf” factor is cranked up to eleven and it barely feels like a pinky was lifted in order to accomplish it.

CRANK 2 picks up right where the first left off where a group of Asian men scoop Chelios off the ground to an operating room where his heart is removed and replaced with some sort of electric artificial heart that requires constant charge to keep Chelios moving. When he wakes up he goes off in search of the man that stole his heart while taking out anyone in his way and finding as many different ways as possible to keep his artificial heart beating including jumper cables on his nipple and tongue, then of course- more public sex.

This film takes the crazy frenetic action from the first and injects its ideas with a boatload of steroids. The violence is in greater frequency, the weird character moments are there in spades and even stranger dialogue is on display- and it’s all just as fun and hilarious this time around if not more so.  There are moments where I just wish I could tap into the mindset of Neveldine/Taylor so I could get a glimpse of the thought process for some of the scenes in this movie. There’s moments ranging from something as small as a pornstar picket line, sex in the middle of a horse race but actually on the course and then in an exercise of true madness- a Godzilla like battle in the middle of an electrical station. I’d say the constant barrage of strange occurrences hurt the film if there were any way to really take it seriously.

On the other hand, sometimes while craziness for craziness sake is fun, it also becomes a bit grating and overwhelming at times. There’s hardly a moment to sit and take in some of the crazy gags which provides a high octane piece of entertainment but one that’s hard to really get connect with on any specific level. That’s actually part of the point though- a film you just sit, watch and get a kick out of and on that level it’s pretty tough to sit here and offer any kind of serious interpretation of CRANK 2’s merits or agendas to life and film in general.

It’s true that CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE is essentially more of what CRANK had to offer except this time the craziness comes with a special kind of insanity that feels like it was a collage of ideas pulled straight from the mind of hundreds of folks bouncing off white padded walls- and I mean that as a compliment. There’s no real way to tell someone they should see this or skip it because both realities are true in any given situation. Those who do check it out are bound to leave with a distinct impression- though it’s largely going to tip the scales at either adoration for something so balls-to-the-wall or hatred for something so gratuitous and offensive. Either way CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE for me was a shot of life that I had a lot of fun with that I would only recommend to people I trust that would understand its insanity.

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Movie Review: [REC]2 (2010)

Bigger, crazier and bloodier- so goes the formula for most horror sequels and [REC]2 is one of those exceptions that proves the rule. Though most sequels do choose to crank things up to eleven they usually lose the magic of the original by going too off the rails and [REC]2 does threaten to derail at times. The events in the doomed apartment complex are considerably more chaotic this time around and stripped of the mystery and novelty of the original the proceedings carry a little less weight this time around. [REC]2 though is still quite terrifying at times and still delivers a pulse pounding thrill ride that is just as much “fun” to watch as the original.

[REC]2 picks up immediately following the events of the first film (the last shot of the original opens the sequel). The establishing shots show a small group of SWAT members testing cameras that are strapped to their helmets and arriving at the apartment complex. The team is given their orders and are accompanied by another man identifying himself as being from the Ministry of Health. Once inside the apartment they realize they are in way over their heads with the infected jumping out from every corner and their mission may not have been what they expected as they struggle to find a way out of the building alive.

One aspect that made [REC]2 different from the original thus adding to its watchability is the ability for the main cameraman to tap into each camera on the other member’s helmets which then makes what they are seeing become what we see. What this adds to the movie is that we are always in the action, always seeing some kind of mayhem happening on screen. The nonstop barrage of action and horror starts to become a detriment until we get a breather as we are fed into camera footage of a group of kids that snuck into the complex at some point before the two stories intersect and we go back into the regular timeline. The breather is brief but it does help break up the insanity, thus making the film much more bearable.

[REC]2 also takes it upon itself to delve much farther into what exactly is happening in this apartment complex- one might say giving away almost too much. So the mystery or questions you have from [REC] are relieved, but I feel like I’d have enjoyed the sequel more if it hadn’t given so many answers or given ideas that put the answers from before into question. There is a twist though at the end that somewhat redeems the film.

The sequel also does more things right by clocking in under an hour and a half- so while the chokehold the directors latch on with right at the beginning is mercifully let down a bit in the middle and then reinforced leading up to the end but it moves quite fast. Some of the best moments come as the SWAT team is searching the apartment and you’re just waiting for something to pop out and when it doesn’t the sense of dread just builds to an unbearable level- but when the mayhem starts it rarely ever ends.

The violence and gore is cranked up quite a bit here as well as the infected people attack as brutally as ever and the sound just adds to the chaos as you feel every bump, every gunshot and ever fist finding flesh or any object. At times when the infected people attack the film seems sped up in order to exaggerate the speed of the people that are infected, but at times it felt a little off-putting. The camera work looked much cleaner this time around until the camera gets knocked out on the floor or shaken a lot then the effect does get a little nauseating.

As sequels go [REC]2 is not as fresh and well done as its predecessor, but it is still just as watchable and tense. The amped up violence and chaos makes for some pretty terrifying sequences and an extremely tense setting- it’s just that there’s a bit too much explanation which bleeds some of the magic from the concept. For what it’s worth I was completely glued to the screen from beginning to end and have no hesitation in saying that if you loved [REC] you will still get a kick out of [REC]2.

Movie Review: Heartless (2010)

The last time that I saw Jim Sturgess he was rocking a smug grin while just getting the bejesus knocked out of him by Lawrence Fishburn after he was caught counting cards. I have to say that he’s come a long way from 21 in this new thriller out of the UK, HEARTLESS. Slow burn thrillers/horror movies can be a hard sell nowadays that younger audiences have adapted ADHD viewing capacities and either want constant carnage or a breakneck rhythm. I’m not one to complain about either of those in a horror film, but a slow builder can please me just as much and HEARTLESS definitely packs a punch during the stretches I wasn’t on the verge of dozing off into dreamland.

Jamie Morgan is a withdrawn London man that is extremely self conscious about a heart shaped birthmark around his left eye. He begins to see that there are demon-like creatures roaming the streets of London. Jamie then makes a deal with the devil, Papa B (Joseph Mawle), which grants him good looks so that he can feel confident enough to find true love. The deal comes with some caveats though; Jamie must commit a series of crimes which end up being much more sinister than Jamie originally agreed to do. As Jamie struggles with his decision to continue to honor the arrangement he finds that backing down has extremely dire consequences.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually really liked HEARTLESS, but the pacing is incredibly slow. All the violence and more interesting aspects are punctuated in favor of drama, which I’m ok with but the drama isn’t near as good or interesting as the crazier parts of the film. I absolutely love the concept of HEARTLESS; the execution though left a little something to be desired.

Jim Sturgess is great as the lead as he turns in a very moody performance. His presence on screen is very strong especially when he’s got the makeup on depicting the heart shaped scar. The makeup itself gives the character a very clear and interesting look and Sturgess brings it home with his performance. Joseph Mawle also makes a great impression in his limited time on screen as Papa B. Mawle creates a very threatening presence later on in the film but it’s his initial introduction that paints him as more mild tempered that makes him more intimidating later on.

I found HEARTLESS to be a film that succeeds based on its high concept than anything else it has going for it such as the performances and moody atmosphere. The more out of control and crazy the events get the more interesting the movie becomes. Once the events hit a peak and the movie begins to slow back down my interest started to fluctuate. I enjoyed some of the more somber moments at different levels and hated others, because I was so intrigued with the darker elements I never connected to the relationship aspect. My final impression of the film went out on a low know because the ending just didn’t pay off like I wanted so while I liked HEARTLESS overall it failed to create an experience that I find memorable.

In the end HEARTLESS pretty much described my final thoughts of the film; a very appealing hook that drew me in but lacked the heart to make me feel any deep connection once it was over. Much like the devil in the film it lures you in with lots of enticing promises and visuals only to find things weren’t exactly what they seemed. HEARTLESS is good for interesting and creepy sequences peppered in here and there and a story that’s intriguing, but in different hands could have been much more than it was.

Movie Review: The Horde (2009)

Can you think of a more unstable alliance during a zombie apocalypse than one between cops and cop killing criminals? I can’t think of once at the moment, but it sure is pretty fun to watch and that’s exactly what we get in THE HORDE. For me all that it took to get me to watch this was say French film and zombies in the same sentence and I was all over it. What we have here is a tense and violent zombie film along with loads of wasted bullets and faulty logic, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it.

A group of cops looking for vengeance against a group of gangsters organize a late night ambush. Things do not go as planned as soon they find themselves in a fight for survival as the apocalypse seems to be upon them and a horde of zombies take siege on the building they are in. The cops and gangsters must force an alliance if they plan to get out alive.

The important thing to know about this film is that despite its attempts at creating backstory and motivations, character names and emotional attachment are almost meaningless in THE HORDE. Sure we get to spend a lot of time with quite a few of them and we eventually learn the names but the best thing the film has going for it is the scenes of zombie carnage amidst the barrage of gunshots and screaming.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say THE HORDE is scary, but it is definitely tense and has burst of very graphic violence; something the French have gotten a name for. The very first zombie attack scene is incredibly brutal and actually kind of terrifying largely due to the great sound work in regards to the zombie growl mixed with the panic and chaos of the character in the room firing their weapons wildly. There’s one other scene that stands out in the film which is partially depicted on the cover and is basically the moneyshot of the film; it is also spoiled in the trailer, and easily justifies watching the film.

While the zombie mayhem is a ton of bloody fun there are few questions that go unanswered, some lapses in logic and a few too many talky scenes. The biggest unanswered question I had also lies in the first zombie attack scene; the rules of the world do not seem clearly defined as the zombie that attacks seemingly changes without a bite of any kind. The biggest lapse in logic are the character’s persistence in shooting the zombies torso even after they’ve seen it not kill them several times and have also seen shots to the head kill them instantly, the learning curve is severely flawed. Also, I’m pretty sure the two biggest budget hits were on blanks and fake blood, not that I’m complaining because it makes for lots of awesome carnage.

The sound work in the movie is also very well done; nearly every gunshot sounds explosive, every zombie growl is intimidating and all other sound effects are also effective. With all the blood flying around and gunshots ringing it’s pretty easy to forgive the shortcomings in regards to a script that at times makes absolutely no sense yet has a really good line here and there.

Horror fans aching for some gory zombie action should find a whole lot to love about THE HORDE. Hardened genre lovers won’t be fooled by the lack of logic and world building, but there’s enough blood, guts and body parts spraying at the screen to overlook the flaws. It may not be as great as other French horror films but it’s still a whole lot more fun and a better use of an hour and of half than most horror being released in the states as of late.

Movie Review: Triangle (2009)

It has been a long time since I saw TRIANGLE for the first time. I never got around to putting my thoughts down to be read because it’s a film that completely annihilated my brain upon watching it. It’s one of the first movies in years that when it was over I immediately started watching it again. It took me months to find any sort of closure as far as what I actually believe happened and I’m still not 100% sure if I’m ever going to feel confident about my theory.

The basic set up for director Christopher Smith’s film is somewhat similar to one of his previous films, SEVERANCE. A group of friends go out sailing and they encounter a huge storm which overturns their boat; they then find refuge on a huge ship that is eerily vacant. They soon find themselves being stalked one by one by a hooded figure looking to kill them.

Triangle is similar to SEVERANCE in the set up where a group of people are being hunted one by one. It’s different where Severance’s entire run time consists of just that, and in Triangle this all happens in the first 20 minutes or so, then it turns into something entirely different, and to discuss details beyond this point would completely cheapen the experience. All I will say is after that 20 minute set up the rest of the movie twists my brain into a knot that is incredibly hard to even find a starting point in which to unravel it.

The whole movie is sold by the performance from Melissa George for a variety of reasons. The supporting cast isn’t terrible, but are basically pawns in Christopher Smith’s elegant chess match he’s set up for the audience. This film is all about the mystery and it’s a mystery that falls back on top of itself several times and that’s both the maddening aspect and the most brilliant aspect of the film. I have no doubt there are people that watch this and say they had it figured out all along, but I refuse to believe it. I’m historically indecisive so TRIANGLE almost seems like the perfect film for my personality, I can never settle on one realization or decision and that might be why I love this movie so much. Even if I am confident with my reading of the film, it lingers in my brain and keeps me thinking and second guessing, which instantly makes the film a favorite for years to come.

If a satisfying cerebral film isn’t quite enough for you there are several very striking visuals throughout the film, many of them are found deep within spoiler territory which kills me to not divulge, but I promise some very cool tricks along the way. Admittedly, TRIANGLE is not the first movie to employ the means by which the story progresses, but it is done in a way that I really responded to.

In the end TRIANGLE is a dizzying but satisfying experience; the equivalent to putting a puzzle together upside down, where you don’t know exactly what your building towards but when you finish and turn it around the results are rewarding. Melissa George is the anchor of the film but the strings are pulled perfectly by Christopher Smith. You might figure out what’s happening behind the curtain, but the true satisfaction comes to those who reset their perceptions and view it differently each time.

Movie Review: Dogtooth (2009)

Yikes…that sums up two things for me; the only word I could think of immediately after watching DOGTOOTH and my feelings towards the events of the film. By no means did I think DOGTOOTH was a bad film, but my goodness is it a peculiar beast. That is one thing that lots of foreign films share in common, they really go against the grain and don’t just test the norms so much as they beat them senseless with a hammer. Most filmmakers might test the water a bit and flirt with crossing lines, but director Giorgos Lanthimos skips the pleasantries and does a swan dive into shark infested waters, but comes out with all major appendages attached.

DOGTOOTH in short is about three young adults, one guy and two girls, that have been totally sheltered their entire lives by their father and mother. They are home schooled and are mislead at every corner by their parents by being given incorrect terms for everyday items and even body parts. The parents hide them from anything that would corrupt them but resort to physical violence should they misbehave and watch or say anything inappropriate. The father decides to bring in someone from the outside to take care of his son’s sexual needs, which then backfires as she soon corrupts one of the daughters and things begin to take even more bizarre turns.

To say DOGTOOTH is unconventional would be a giant understatement. Every scene kept me guessing what could possibly happen next; between the “children’s” bizarre vocabulary, awkward sex scenes and nurturing techniques, I found myself fascinated as well as disgusted at several points. It’s been a couple days since seeing the film and I feel like I’m still trying to make sense of every minor detail.

There’s a limited cast and they all perform splendidly and bravely given the material they are dealing with. Too much discussion over that material could spoil some of the scenes later on in the film, but believe me despite the laughs there are to be had at the expense of the characters, I’m not sure how much you’re supposed to actually enjoy this film.

I cannot feel good about recommending this movie without a HUGE warning. There is lots of graphic sexuality bordering on and crossing what you might see in most adult films, except in DOGTOOTH the sex is awkward and at times extremely perverse. There are also bursts of violence that looks disturbingly real, the most shocking scene being very near the end. The scene in question was so brutal that it made me really contemplate looking away and I’m no stranger to incredibly violent scenes; that’s all I will say so I can stay away from obvious spoilers.

DOGTOOTH is a film to be enjoyed only by those with a taste for extremely polarizing types of cinema. It’s not hard to imagine people watching this and being violently angry with anyone who suggested they watch it, but on the other hand they too might find fascination in the themes it presents. I have no doubt DOGTOOTH will make you laugh but it also has the potential to turn your stomach.

Movie Review: After.Life (2009)

Have you ever wondered what happens to your body as it waits to be presented at your funeral? Fear not, After.Life attempts to help us experience this so we don’t have to rush to find out for ourselves, and it’s nothing ground breaking or particularly memorable. Unfortunately, After.Life suffers from a slow lumbering story, and a very odd and cringe worthy performance by Christina Ricci.

Anna Taylor (Christina Ricci) and Paul Coleman (Justin Long), are an uneasy couple that argue often, largely due to both of their relationships with Anna’s mother. After a misunderstanding at dinner of Paul’s big promotion and a impending move to Chicago, Anna storms out of the restaurant. She suffers a horrible car accident, and is shocked to wake up as Elliot (Liam Neeson), a funeral director, is preparing her body for her funeral. Elliot reveals he has a gift of helping the dead settle their issues in order to cross over, but Anna refuses to accept her death. Paul, also not to be convinced of Anna’s death, also struggles to prove that the deranged, Elliot, is planning to bury Anna alive.

I’d be lying if I said the plot of the film didn’t make my eyes cross at first. As I watched the film, the pace and unraveling of the story did not ease my concerns about my understanding. Upon the end I was convinced that I must have missed something, but came to the conclusion that it was just a film that failed to engage me enough to care about Anna and Paul’s outcome. There were stretches where I really enjoyed some of the back and forth between characters, but the slow pace was constantly making my interest teeter back and forth. As I was watching I became far too aware that there were a lot of shots of Christina Ricci getting on and off a table, and Liam Neeson spouting the line, “You people,” followed by a little anecdote of his distaste for the dead who believe they are living.

I have yet to be sold that Justin Long should be cast in roles that require him to be dramatic, since I have a really hard time taking him seriously. That being said, there are times where I felt he was believably portraying a grieving boyfriend. However, I didn’t buy it enough for it to really let me feel for his character. Liam Neeson is definitely a joy to watch as the creepy funeral director with the ability to communicate with the dead. I never got bored with his character, except during stretches where all he’s doing is pursuing Anna’s character around the funeral home. Even when Neeson is on screen delivering calm monotonous dialogue I think he’s fascinating to watch, but even more so when there a slight hint of rage in his voice. However, even Liam Neeson can’t entirely overcome the painfully annoying performance by Christina Ricci. After every line delivery it became dreadfully clear to me that her main purpose in the film was to look disturbingly seductive as a partially clothed and fully naked corpse. Almost nothing she says can be taken serious even if she delivers a genuinely good line because her performance is shockingly inconsistent.

One other saving grace to the film is the bracing visuals. After.Life is full of some pretty interesting and colorful set pieces. For the most part the film seems to employ many shades of grey, and the striking visual element comes with the introduction of anything red. Each time it always makes the scene a little bit more interesting, even when you’re inherently bored with what’s actually going on.

After.Life didn’t come with an overwhelming amount of expectations, and it succeeds in varying degrees in its creep factor, but fails with the story and characters we don’t care about. Those wanting a fix of Liam Neeson goodness will leave the experience without feeling cheated, and the rest will be wishing they were on the table being prepared for a funeral.

Movie Review: Blood River (2009)

Things go from bad to worse for pregnant Summer and her husband Clark when they encounter a bad car accident in the middle of the desert. They are forced to walk miles of deserted roads until they stumble upon a ghost town with no water no food and no way of contacting help. Soon a stranger whom they passed while they were driving strolls in to town and introduces himself as Joseph. He offers the couple help by walking with Clark to their car to siphon gas to fuel his truck and get help, but notice that something is off about their savior.

There are many things Blood River has going for it. It has a very engaging and dread inducing character in Joseph (Andrew Howard), a helpless and interesting setting in the gorgeous looking desert, and some very interesting and engaging dialogue in the midsection and climax of the film. Andrew Howard is easily the main reason to recommend the film, even though there are times he goes a little overboard he still delivers a very intense and interesting performance. When compared to the other two characters they just pale in comparison. The couple are almost unbearable in the beginning, then step up slightly once the peril begins, but never hit the highs Howard reaches. His accent and raspy voice are nearly pitch perfect for the roll, its when he gets a little over his head and his voice gets high and very different from the tones before that it seems out of character, and those brief missteps are enough to distract from the performance before he draws you back in.

One of the downfalls in the film is the inconsistent acting chops of the central couple. Like I said before their back and forth dialogue kind of painful, but fast forward to when the trouble starts and there’s somewhat of a transition to wildly over-the-top moments and genuinely believable emotions being swapped back and forth. However, when we get to the climax, I have never found myself so annoyed by a certain characters decisions. There’s a scene at the end where Clark becomes so frustratingly stupid and stubborn that it becomes impossible to care about him, and the moment is never satisfied. I was sitting and waiting to hear what everyone at that point is waiting to hear of what’s asked of him and it never comes about, the question is never answered. In some ways the mystery makes things better, but not here. Coupled with that and the fact that a good portion of Clark’s lines in the movie are “what,” “what do you mean,” and “what are you talking about,” all these questions just keep popping up and the character of Summer and Clark ultimately just weren’t interesting enough to really care if they figured it out.

Speaking of mystery, a lot of the story revolves around us figuring out just what the deal is with Joseph. Early on we see that he may not have the kindest of intentions. However, as time passed and the clues kept gathering up I had an inkling of what may be happening. That’s not me patting myself on the back for figuring it out, because it is handled well and fleshed out gradually that it’s possible to not know where this is leading.

My complaints about the characters and acting aside, the visuals are very good, the swooping shots of the desert give the film a gorgeous look, and a gritty feel when we get up close with Joseph and his interactions with the couple. The music is also utilized with a great effect as well, especially during the opening credits.

Blood River has its ups and downs, but should not simply be dismissed for some weak character development, because Andrew Howard’s performance is more than enough to warrant at least one viewing. It has a few scenes of graphic violence but overall gorehounds will not get their fix. Most movie watchers hope for a little bang for their buck but shouldn’t feel cheated as there’s plenty of gorgeous scenery to take in and a phenomenal central performance from Andrew Howard. Blood River ends up not being bloody enough and lacking in endearing protagonists.

Movie Review: Moon (2009)

Moon is the story of Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) stationed on the far side of the moon, coming to the end of his three year contract with the company Lunar Industries. His job is to mine the surface of the moon for Earth’s now primary energy source Helium3. Relieved that his time away from his wife and young daughter is nearing an end, Sam is involved in an accident while completing a routine task, and once awakened from the incident he begins to uncover startling evidence that things are not what they appeared to be, and struggles to figure out just where he fits into Lunar Industries’ plans.

To give away too much more about the story would lessen the experience as you watch the movie unfold. The director, Duncan Jones, does a fantastic job of presenting a story that is extremely engaging and absolutley amazing to look at. The atmosphere created here is stunning, and I found myself immersed in the scenery and drawn into the story up until the very last second.

The performance by Sam Rockwell is phenomenal, which is a relief for a movie that requires one person to carry the film on his/her shoulders. The only other voice we are treated to, aside from brief radio contact with headquarters, and video conferences with Sam’s wife and daughter, is Kevin Spacey as “Gerty” the AI computer there to help Sam through the duration of his time on the moon.

Overall, the anchoring performance by Sam Rockwell and the amazing look and stunning visuals make Moon a stellar experience well worth the time spent watching. Duncan Jones has given us one of the best sci-fi experiences in recent memory.

Rating: 9/10

Movie Review: The Road (2009)

The Road is a film based off of the novel by Cormac McCarthy, which follows a father and son as they trek a post apocalyptic world on their way to the coast in hopes of finding some sort of hope and refuge. Along the way they encounter gangs of fellow travelers that have turned to cannibalism as a way to survive in a world where food is very scarce, and battle the cold elements while trying to keep warm and fight off starvation.

The focus of this movie is the relationship between the father and son. It is a fantastic portrayal of the love between the father (played by Viggo Mortenson) and the son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), that is absolutely phenomenal to watch on the screen, and at the same time very tough to watch, as we see a father desperately trying to keep his son alive, and a son who is curious about the world he lives in and has only his father left in the world. We start as it’s obvious something terrible is happening outside the windows as The Man (there are no names used throughout the movie) wakes in the middle of the night. He quickly thinks to turn on the water in the house to start collecting as much as he can should the worst happen. Then it cuts and we are thrust directly into the world that the man and his son are struggling to survive in.

The backdrop of the movie is very very gray. A very haunting world surrounds the two main characters, where everything is almost completely destroyed. Every day and every night you can hear the sounds of trees falling in the distance and a cold rain falling, and sometimes thunder echoing in the distance. You see buildings smoking and completely abandoned, forest that have been leveled by whatever devastation came beforehand. The man and the boy walk along a road looking for whatever they can to eat or anything that can potentially serve any purpose they might need. To carry their belongings they push a shopping cart through the building snow/ash.

The movie is extremely slow, which will probably alienate a lot of people who went in expecting a post apocalyptic thriller which was how the very first trailer portrayed the film. Much like the book you are treated to disturbingly beautiful imagery of a world that has been destroyed with some intermittent encounters with people other than the two main characters. Much of the film is spent with the father and son walking through the wasteland finding a spot to sleep for the night and keep warm. The boy has known only this world as it seems he was born not long after the apocalyptic event. At small sections of the film we see as they run into some other characters along the way, one of which offers one of the more disturbing ideas and visuals of the film when they stumble upon a nice white mansion, with a horrible little surprise on the inside.

I found the film to be incredibly powerful, even if it was slow at some parts. It was as close as an adaptation can get to the source material without being a blatant ripoff. I had thought at moments that when the movie was over that I was gonna pass the film off as merely a good overall film bordering on generic, but in the end I was so glad I stuck around to take in the entire scope of the movie as I let each element sink in even days after seeing it, I now can say it ranks up near the top of my favorite films of the year. Viggo’s performance never disappoints, he is a wonder to behold in the film. He is heartbreaking and endearing to watch all at once. You feel for his character and you just keep hoping he will get some kind of break, as his character is thrust into so many terrible situations, with his wife, and all the bad things that happen to him and the boy. You really can just feel the need he has to protect his son and why he doesn’t want to give up.

Along with Viggo, McPhee’s performance is very good for a young boy, considering he’s sort of overshadowed by Mortenson’s performance. Also Charlize Theron is very good in her short roll that you see only through flashbacks as the wife of Viggo’s character and the mother of the boy. We also have a brief appearance by Robert DuVall who is also great to watch in his small part as an old man they encounter along the way.

Aside from the slow pace which ultimately didn’t ruin the movie for me as I expected that, the only gripe I would have is that the score in the background of some scenes just doesn’t seem to fit, I often found myself really loving all the scenes in which there was no music, just the haunting sound effects of trees falling and silence around the characters. During some scenes the music works but at others I found that it was somewhat distracting to what was happening at the time. In the end I think some minor music miscues are a small price to play for a film that is just oddly beautiful to look at, heartbreaking to watch, and a powerfully emotional experience.

Rating: 9/10