Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sometimes A Book Is Just Meant To Be A Book...

Several months ago, I posted about The Road. It's an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy (author of No Country For Old Men) novel, one of my favorite books of all-time. Needless to say, I was excited about the movie's release. It actually came out back in October through a limited release but only recently expanded its theater count. Its release was accompanied by very minimal fanfare and very mediocre ratings. But I still had faith. This was largely because the adaptation of McCarthy's No Country For Old Men (an inferior book to The Road in this blogger's opinion) was so good. But, as I found out, better books don't always make better movies. And some books are really just meant to be books.

The movie tells the story of a father (Viggo Mortenson) and his son (newcomer Kodi Smit-Mcphee) in post-apocalyptic America. The world has essentially turned to rubble. There are no more cities, no governments, no hope. Gangs of cannibals patrol the streets looking for some of the few remaining humans left alive to feast on. After being abandoned by their wife/mother (Charlize Theron), the father and son are heading for the southeastern coast. Along the way, they run into trouble (escaping the cannibalistic gangs, finding food, staying warm, etc.). And that's really all there is to it.

Now, in Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, this makes for a fascinating tale. It's full of suspense, and as Bookforum said of the novel, "[it is] nearly impossible to put down; it is as if you must keep reading in order for the characters to stay alive." But when the book becomes a movie (and, to be fair, the movie is very accurate in adapting the novel to the big screen), much of the story's appeal is lost. Without McCarthy's words to guide us, we're left watching a pretty boring tale of a couple of characters that are underdeveloped and generally uninteresting. And events that were packed with suspense in the novel were very much lacking it in the film. The movie does have a few positives -- the wasteland that director John Hilcoat created is really well done, and Viggo does a pretty admirable job as the unnamed father. He's almost exactly what I imagine from the book. And Robert Duvall is also very good in a supporting role. But there really is just not enough good things about the film to warrant seeing this.

Bottom line: Even if you are a huge fan of the book, wait until you can get the DVD from Netflix. (C-)

For those still interested, here's the trailer:

1 comment:

  1. The Road is a haunting portrait of what it means to be a parent.