Priest (2011) -vs- The Book of Eli (2010)

May 15, 2011 Mark Sanchez

A Western is a Western, even if there are no trusty horses, Native Americans, brave pioneers, land barons or cowboy hats (or even cowboys).

These days we regularly construct our western mythology out of the apocalypse, looking to the dismal future and not the hardscrabble past.

Both our combatants today share a common set up: Catastrophe strikes. Society falls apart. The fight begins for the remaining pieces. This formula usually includes A Brooding Outsider and Someone in Distress. When you add monsters / mutants you have the rough outline of recent popular movies like I Am Legend, The Road, even The Road Warrior from 1982. The list is longer, but you see where I’m going.

What we have now is the hybrid genre of the Apoca-Western. This sturdy form is identifiable with or without those horses and a strong silent hero because it still showcases the sense of honor, justice and redemption that motivated John Wayne as the Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939) and Clint Eastwood’s Bill Munny in The Unforgiven (1992). Those characters could just as easily lived in the world of the Undead as the actual living.

While there are no OK Corrals in The Priest or the Book of Eli, good still stands up to evil in every incarnation. Let’s see how they stand up to each other. […]

The Road (2009) -vs- Testament (1983)

November 28, 2009 Bryce Zabel

Based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, “The Road” doesn’t even bother to really tell you what happened. All we know is that at 1:17am one morning, the sky lights up (bombs, asteroids?) and that’s all she wrote. This is the telling of two characters really, The Man (Viggo Mortenson) and the Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who are trying to walk their way to the coast, close to a decade after that Minute When Everything Changed. Things are bad all over. Most everyone is dead now, food is all but gone, the animals have died, too, same with the plants. The closest thing to civilization are bands of brutal survivalists and the most common form of human nature being expressed is cannibalism. Why distributors decided to release this film on Thanksgiving Day may go down as one of the most inexplicable calls in movie history. The book has legions of fans and I first experienced it as an audiobook which I listened to on a daily walk through our local green belt. I think of this film in the rhythm of walking but it gets in your head and the day after Thanksgiving Day I simply had to see it at the only local theater playing it.
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