DVD Review: The Road (2009)

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How do you maintain humanity once it has all but vanished? The answer is as simple as it is complex; you do so by staying alive... even in a post-apocalyptic world gone mad. Although he carries a revolver loaded with two bullets to end the life of himself and his son if they ever run out of food, shelter from cannibals and gangs, or the unforgiving landscape of a frozen America while they journey south down the coast, Viggo Mortensen's unnamed father refuses to give in and pull the trigger.

With his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in tow and an old cart to push, the two fight to stay alive for the sake of survival in John Hillcoat's bleak follow-up to his brutal yet far more powerful western The Proposition, via Joe Penhall's adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy.

It's hard to imagine an audience showing much interest for yet another Armageddon themed picture, especially one that stems from a novel that's become an international contemporary classic and sure enough the film was released blink-and-you-missed-it quick at the box office.

I wish I could say that the audience was wrong to stay away but the truth is, despite Javier Aguirresarobe's unexpectedly brilliant, at times near monochromatic cinematography and another uniformly excellent turn by Eastern Promises star Mortensen, there's not much to recommend in this stark film that meanders along its dull, dreary road of doom with little in the way of plot.

Devoid of No Country for Old Men author Cormac McCarthy's precise prose to add another layer to the unfolding drama, all we're left with is the most basic building blocks of the novel. Thus, despite its bold use of extreme realism, The Road fails to translate well onscreen, making you want to pick up the book a little after the half an hour mark once you've gotten the film's post-apocalyptic images swirling around in your head to best compliment the work as a companion piece rather than a film in its own right.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.