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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Viggo Mortensen
Kodi Smit-McPhee
Charlize Theron
Guy Pearce
Robert Duvall
Garret Dillahunt.
Directors
John Hillcoat.
Screenwriters
Joe Penhall.
Running Time
111 minutes

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The Road
Apocalypse sshh...


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Plot
Some years after an unspecified apocalypse which has killed all animal and plant life on Earth, a man (Mortensen) and his son (Smit-McPhee) trudge wearily through a devastated, lawless America, now overrun by gangs of redneck cannibals.


Review
The Road
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James Cameron had us nuked by robots. George Miller had us nuked by each other. George Romero attacked us with zombies. Roland Emmerich has lasered us, frozen us and, most recently, drowned us. Whatever the method employed to downsize humanity, apocalypse cinema is typically a spectacular exercise in cause and effect; in Emmerich’s case, lavishing too much energy on an expensive God’s-eye view of the former while barely bothering with the latter. You may not be shocked to find that John Hillcoat’s entry to the subgenre, a faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s devastating novel The Road, is the polar opposite of Emmerich’s.

The cause is an irrelevance, visualised only in terms of its effect. A short scene has the unnamed protagonist (Viggo Mortensen) woken in the night by distant screams. He looks out of his window to see a flickering glow, then runs to fill his bath. “Why are you having a bath at this time?” queries his wife (Charlize Theron), blearily. “I’m not,” he replies. Being a man of impressive practicality and instinctive resourcefulness — the kind that populates the frontier of Western myth and invariably flounders in McCarthy’s rich fictions — he instantly recognises that reserves of water will prove crucial.

The world’s end is not, in Hillcoat’s hands, a nightmare intended to thrill. Not surprising, given his last unconventional Western was the brutal, fly-choked The Proposition. His apocalypse is one of brittle trees losing their death-grip on the ashen soil. It’s one of sudden brush-fires, smoke-choked skies and pitiless storms. Forget the brain-eating undead, now so tediously ubiquitous. In Hillcoat’s hands, nothing is as terrifying as the sallow, wild-eyed gangs who, to preserve their own survival, will hack down women and children without a second’s thought, or keep people alive, naked and shivering, in a pitch-dark basement — or rather, larder. It’s as if the Texas Chain Saw Massacre family has taken over the planet.

Yet The Road has taken some flack since its festival premiere, predictably given the book’s many passionate advocates. It is fair to say that the novel’s episodic nature has proven tough to translate. Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee seem to be forever cowering in undergrowth from rawboned hillbillies, while the string of recognisable-face cameos only accentuates how stretched the Man-and-Boy two-hander scenes can feel.

That doesn’t mean, though, that either of the lead performances is in any way weak. The one-time Aragorn, here looking more street-bum than Strider, has invested all his physical and emotional energy in making The Man convince and compel as a parent struggling to raise his child properly under unthinkably extreme circumstances.

Smit-McPhee, meanwhile, shivers with a vulnerability that similarly rings true. In a world so leeched of compassion, The Boy’s gentle innocence and desire to be a “good guy” lend him a sense of otherworldliness, honouring The Boy on McCarthy’s page. However stretched, these tender moments between father and son ache with emotion, and resonate as strongly as any of Hillcoat’s de-saturated visions of despair and terror.


Verdict
One of the most chillingly effective visions of the world’s end ever put on screen — and a heart-rending study of parenthood, to boot.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Road
Empire Star Rating

Amazing

the best movie of 2008 bolstered by one of the greatest chid performances ive seen in years ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by aamoran10 at 16:23, 20 June 2011 | Report This Post


Tragic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 12:21, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

Found this film grim and depressing, which with possibly the point. Viggo Montensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee put in good performances. Quite disappointing ending, the father sets the boy up to look after himself, but he can't last 5 mintures before going off with a family, who just  happen to be following them ... More

Posted by white mage at 14:29, 06 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

L: Invader_Ace Awesome. I found the book very moving and this more so in some places.  Tears by the end. This was great, but I think I prefer the book.  This might sound a bit weird after what everyone else has said, but it wasn't grim enough! 'm in agreement. It may be because I read and loved the book, then when I went to see it, some of the more bleek scenes were missed out (pregnat lady - that part of the book was horrifying!). The film was great though, and from the ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by juanvasquez at 21:32, 05 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

Awesome. I found the book very moving and this more so in some places.  Tears by the end. This was great, but I think I prefer the book.  This might sound a bit weird after what everyone else has said, but it wasn't grim enough! ... More

Posted by Invader_Ace at 21:11, 05 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

Bleak is the best word for this film i have read the book so i knew what to expect but watched it with my wife and she found it boring. ... More

Posted by shinyvalley at 05:36, 08 August 2010 | Report This Post


Grim Stuff.

The Road isn't a easy and comfortable watch. Very grim and depressing in places, it's not a movie to enjoy again and again. But it does have some excellent pefomances from Viggo Montensen, newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee and brief cameos from Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. Some stunning barren scenes and edge of your seat moments. Don't watch this if you had a bad week or want escaspim, it ain't here. But it's one to check out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:17, 21 June 2010 | Report This Post


Grim Stuff.

The Road isn't a easy and comfortable watch. Very grim and depressing in places, it's not a movie to enjoy again and again. But it does have some excellent pefomances from Viggo Montensen, newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee and brief cameos from Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. Some stunning barren scenes and edge of your seat moments. Don't watch this if you had a bad week or want escaspim, it ain't here. But it's one to check out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:17, 21 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

That's the point i was trying to make earlier,hope is ALMOST lost,but not completely. It's quite an ambiguous ending,but having seen the film to that point,it's hard to shake off the negative feelings about what you have already seen. See the hope! ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 11:10, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

No I know, but I just took from the ending a feeling of hopelessness. That family I feel were not long for the world with all the danger and hopelessness in front of them and don't even get me started on the bloody dog! I think seeing the dog was what started the waterworks! ... More

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 11:09, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

L: The REAL Bozz Its just too sad to think that is what we would become. Needless to say I'd last about two minutes in that world with my optermistic outlook before becoming someones meal. he film does end on a positive note though (on people remaining good that is), so it wasn't just a bleak "mankind is shit" all the way through. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 11:07, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

Sorry to go OT but since you brought up the Mist I must point out they lived in the book. That film had the most blatant "lets delibertley shock the audience" ending ever. Hated it. But to answer your question no I wouldn't! ... More

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 11:07, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

And the rest of us too! It's a bit like The Mist-would you want to even try to survive in such a world like that? No,i wouldn't. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 11:02, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

Its just too sad to think that is what we would become. Needless to say I'd last about two minutes in that world with my optermistic outlook before becoming someones meal. ... More

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 10:58, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

I think your points illustrate the feelings and points of the book/film very well. Ironically,this is a realistic doomsday film,unlike 2012. There is a real sense of fear,danger and dare i say it,an almost complete loss of hope. Mankind has devoured itself(literally!) and society is gone. Army?There is nothing left of anything,it's an almost pre-caveman existence. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 10:53, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

L: The REAL Bozz I found it hard to swallow that so many people would just resort to the lowest of the low. can think up of some historical events where mankind was a piece if shit. an as the film went along there seemed to be more than a few people around so how on Earth could it get to the point depicted in the film where people have started to break off into little cannabil gangs and hunt fellow man? nimals and other resources had died off. Whatever destroyed the world... More

Posted by Deviation at 10:46, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

I watched The Road last night and I wish I hadn't. Don't get me wrong, it's a good film but I was on such a downer after it. I found it hard to swallow that so many people would just resort to the lowest of the low. I mean as the film went along there seemed to be more than a few people around so how on Earth could it get to the point depicted in the film where people have started to break off into little cannabil gangs and hunt fellow man? More so the fact it took place in the here and now was... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 10:15, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

L: adambatman82 We should have another discussion about why something being depressing doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing. te]3tly.The book is grim and the film translates well from the book(another credit to the film). I wasn't going in expecting Hot Tub Time Machine(hadn't been released then!) but its grim,bleak and negative tone place you in this terrible world and all the horrible issues in it. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 20:42, 18 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

An absolutely excellent film. There are a lot of negative words used to describe it and its tone,bit i would use the word bleak. I was captivated,even though it may be described as a negative and depressing film. It is about struggle,hope and possible redemption. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 01:39, 17 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

finished it for a second time today, interesting blu ray, not amazing. Kinda disappointed this time, the fade to blacks became too often, and it felt a tad too episodic, like you can turn it off and jump in on another chapter later. Shame, was one of the few films this year I really felt during the screening. ... More

Posted by Ethanial at 23:02, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

I agree with that, the final few minutes were hardly the outright bleakness of Threads. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 22:53, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

I didnt find it depressing personally.....I found it to be quite optimistic for some strange reason due to the end. Sure it is a grim film, but the ending to be felt like there was still a little bit of hope and SPOILERS his son is going to be looked after. ... More

Posted by kenada_woo at 17:11, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

In The Road it fits, it deals about the decline of society and morals (and maybe even the fears of a father to leave his son alone in the cruel world), I can hardly see why something like that should be light.  ... More

Posted by Deviation at 15:44, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

We should have another discussion about why something being depressing doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 15:15, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Road

Because you are wrong and the film is great. See, easy answer. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 15:00, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post


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