Still Better Than Real Life.
By Noah Fishman, Staff Editor
Since we are all living through what feels like the end of days, I thought it would be a good time to look back at some apocalypse movies and see how they stack up to reality. There’s only one rule: no pandemics–why would I want to watch a film about my life? In this issue, I review two films that deal with the end of the world in wildly different ways.
The Road follows a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they take a long journey south towards the ocean through a bleak wasteland. The trees are all falling down, the world is slowly getting colder, and everyone is steadily starving to death.
This film excels at illustrating a father’s struggle to protect his son and make sure that he understands they are not like everyone else; they are good people. But he is often faced with difficult decisions, and the line between good and evil starts to blur. The man must ensure that his son still has the will and the strength to keep moving, but can he do that on top of slowly starving and avoiding cannibals? The film drags at points but still manages to stay compelling overall. If you’re looking for action, The Road is not for you; however, it does provide a healthy helping of disturbing imagery. Seeing other travelers is an almost exclusively sinister thing in the world of The Road, often forcing the man and his son to hide or flee.
The film is beautifully shot: Despite being limited by mostly grey visuals, the haunting cinematography still succeeds in breathing extra life into the story. The Road is bolstered by a subtle but effective score, which mostly comes out in scenes of peril. Mortensen and Smit-McPhee both turn in solid performances that really sell the desperation of their reality. All in all, The Road is a well-rounded story of determination and the triumph of the human spirit.
This is the End features well-known Hollywood comedians playing themselves at the end of the world. The film tells the story of Seth Rogen (Seth Rogen) and Jay Baruchel’s (Jay Baruchel) friendship as it goes through its most turbulent journey yet: the biblical apocalypse. The Rapture occurs while Jay and Seth are at James Franco’s house warming party. They are forced to seek refuge along with Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill. Jay cannot stand Seth’s Hollywood friends, but he must struggle to keep his cool if he wants to survive. Rations are wasted, fingers are pointed, friendships are tarnished, and an exorcism is performed in this fantastically hilarious comedy.
It’s got stars, it’s got action, it’s got drama, it’s got comedy. It has Michael Cera who dies very early on–what more could you ask for? At the heart of this goofy, raunchy project is a beautiful tale of two friends rekindling their lost bond through character arcs wrought with emotional weight.
The story is simple but endearing, and the characters always feel grounded in reality. This is the End is filmed in a way that captures its hectic nature: the camera often swings around and rapidly switches point of view. An upbeat score full of popular hits keeps it entertaining, along with the cast’s great performances and comedic chops. This is the End ensnares the desperation of the apocalypse, the sadness of losing friendships, and the selfishness within everyone, all while being laugh-out-loud hilarious for nearly two hours.
After watching these back to back, I would definitely rather be living in the world of This is the End than The Road, but which would you prefer?
Featured Photo: Adam Koplik