Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. We have a spy below calling himself Viper X who got a chance to see an early screening of THE ROAD based on Cormac McCarthy's awesome nut-punch of a book. It sounds like this early screening represented a near final cut and Viper X goes apeshit for it. He loved every minute of it and counts himself a huge fan of the novel. So this is a good indication. I know the instinct is to call plant on such an enthusiastic review, but something tells me this one's real and the enthusiasm is from the heart. I hope I feel the same way about it because I'm itching to see this one... hell, I'd count it extremely high on my priority list for 2009 movies. Enjoy the review, which is mostly spoiler-free and those plot details he does talk about aren't news to anyone who has heard what the film or book is about. Enjoy!
Hi Harry! Caught a screening of 'The Road' a few days ago in NYC and thought I'd write in my thoughts. I'll keep this spoiler-free for the most part. They prefaced to us that the movie was still a 'work in progress.' Apparently some coloring, sound mixing, and effects still had yet to be completed. They must have been very technical because I didn't see any sign of an unfinished movie. I'm an avid Cormac McCarthy fan and 'The Road' is my favorite of his works. It's by far his most poetic book which made me weary of seeing it made into a film, because how can any filmmaker capture his gorgeous prose and put it up on a screen? The Coen Brothers did it to near perfection, but 'The Road' is far more abstract and minimalistic than No Country for Old Men. Well it's been done. Because this movie is incredible. If you've heard anything about this story the word 'post-apocalyptic' has surely come up. Well yes, it is about that, but that acts more as a vessel to tell a story about what's left to do once all hope is lost. There is no hope left in this story. This is not Children of Men where we are wondering if maybe the world can get another kick start. This is what's left of an ant pile after you spray it with a hose for an hour. A few ants still running around with nothing left and waiting to die. Everyone who is familier with the book will be pleased to know that the reason the world is over ramains ambiguous. There is no reason to explain it and the rest of the film follows suit, giving us just what's needed so all that's left is a stripped down account of the relationship between a father and his son in these circumstances. John Hillcoat has taken this dark and brooding story and turned it into something so cinematic yet still maintaining an absolutely faithful adaptation. I had read in an interview with him a while back where he said he was planning on adding a bit more color to this movie because an audience 'doesn't want to look at grey for 2 hours.' Well if he did he made it very very subtle because the color scheme works entirely. It's still very grey and still very dark. The scope of this movie is unbelievable with vast and detailed landscapes representing a dead world. These shots are accompanied by voiceovers spoken by The Man from passages taken directly from the book. As far as the visual aspects go and how much we are allowed to see of this world is niether overdone or underdone. It's not JUST a forest and it's not The Day After Tomorrow. The artistic direction really substitutes for the writing in the book and helped to give me the same feeling I got when I read it. A perfect balance. So we have these seven performances that make up this movie. Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Garret Dillahunt and Michael K. Williams all have one scene each of very important characters, all of which give us a very good portrait of every aspect of this society. I could go off on each of them and how they gave each role so much and why it worked so well with the world of the movie but this review would be far too long. They're all just great. The other three that were so important to making this movie successful simply nailed it. Viggo Mortensen, to me, was genius choice of casting from the start. That desparation that we've seen in him (the "we don't kill babies" scene from Eastern Promises to name an example) is flooded throughout this performance. How do you lead your only son through a scorched world in search of nothing? What is the point? Well Viggo finds one and it will tear your heart out. He also finds a few points to make us laugh, which is more than necessary given the nature of this movie. Kodi Smit-McPhee. Is he good? Does he get the job done? Everyone is wondering. The answer is you have nothing to worry about. The kid is one hell of an actor. He's a boy born into this world, knowing nothing of what was. He's heard stories of birds and the sky but they all have to live in his imagination. And they do. Because he has stories from books and his father to teach him what once was a reality. And to a boy that doesn't know more than a destroyed planet, this creates one hell of a ball of light in a dark dark world. This kid's compassion and optimism and love for the remainder of humanity is heightened by the fact that all those attributes are since extinct. It's jolting to others he comes in contact with. Finally we have Charliz Theron who gives her best performance to date. (Even better than her overrated performance in 'Monster' which in my opinion was nothing more than an overglorified impression of Michael Keaton.) She exists only in flashbacks and represents one of the many victims of a person who's soul died with the world. Hoplessness has overtaken her to a point where she only exists as a hollowed out shell of a person, waiting to fall just like the trees in the deceased world. Love has lost its meaning and her steady decline is heartbreaking. The score worked really will by Nick Cave. Lots of strings. It was sort of a giant mix of Jonny Greenwood, Clint Mansell, and Michael Nyman. But it really gave the movie a great tone. The movie sucks you into a completely different world and it's nearly impossible to peel yourself away from it for it's duration. as slow-paced as this movie can be, like in the book, there are riviting moments that will make you jump out of your seat with disgust, excitment, and suspense. These moments are spaced out perfectly and with each one you are pulled in further into the horror being presented. This was a giant screening with a huge movie theatre completely filled. Most people had no knowledge of what they were getting themelves into. The audience was very communal, silent at the right parts and audibly gasping at other parts. The feel I got from reactions on my way out was that they were all on a crazy ride together. People who didn't like depressing movies didn't like it, but people who liked GOOD movies, even if it is depressing, loved it. There was one jump cut in particular that I can remember that reminded me of the famous cut in 2001: A Space Oddesy. A dramatic cut from what was to what is. It's in the beginning and it'll hit you hard. That's about it. I have a feeling that when this movie finally hits it'll be a big deal. I know I praised the hell out of it but I really did like it that much. I couldn't hardly find one thing about it I hope to see changed in the final product. Let's hope they don't change it up too much. Done and done. If you use this call me Viper X.