- Category: Movie Reviews
- Written by Gilbert Seah
COUNTDOWN TO ARMAGEDDON
As the year end closes, TIFF Bell Lightbox presents a series of Armageddon themed classics that range from Kubrick’s comical Masterpiece DR STRANGELOVE to the recent CHILDREN OF MEN. They also range from funny, horror, emotional drama, action to romantic.
The series begins December 14th and runs to the 21st.
For complete film listing in the series, show times, venue and ticket pricing, please check the TIFF website at:
Capsule reviews for 4 of the films in the series courtesy of screeners provided by TIFF are found below:-
LAST NIGHT (Canada 1998) ***
Directed by Don McKellar
Torontonian Don McKellar stars, writes and directs his film about the last night in Toronto, Canada before the world ends. This is a sweet, sad, funny and occasionally dramatic film about human emotions rather than a sci-fi action Armageddon flick. No explanation is given as to why the earth will end at 12 midnight and none is necessary. We see the characters trying toe make the best of whatever time they have left. The lead characters, Patrick (McKellar) and Sandra (Sandra Oh) find themselves alone but meeting and finding romance for a surprising last time. Others take to looting, murdering and killing. No special effects here except for maybe the spectacle of an overturned streetcar and again none necessary. LAST NIGHT is a pleasant look at ourselves in the time of catastrophe and the nice surprises that may occur – a sort of fell-good disaster film.
THE QUIET EARTH (New Zealand 1985) ***
Directed by Geoffrey Murphy
Based on the novel of the same name, this film on the last days of the earth has the audience believe that there are only 3 survivors left on the planet. The main character is a scientist, Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) who is surprisingly apt in putting together stuff like generators, tools light and whatever in order for human beings to survive. The film spends too much unnecessary time (Operation Flashlight) explaining the reason the earth has come to this state of affairs (something to do with an energy grid) and what will happen afterwards. Who really cares as all this hoo-hah is hardly believable anyway. More interesting is how each of the three characters deal with each other and fortunately it is these interactions that keep Murphy’s film moving. The special effects and explosions are well done for a low budget film like this one.
THE ROAD WARRIOR (Australia 1981) ****
Directed by George Miller
The 2nd best film (DR STRANGELOVE being numero uno) of the Armageddon series and a film that can be watched multiple times. ROAD WARRIOR is the second and best of the MAD MAX films (in fact, this film is known as MAD MAX 2 outside North America) and this film finds Paradise amidst attack by the villains of the piece, in this case warriors not out to steal their petrol but out to murder each and everyone of the community as well. Though this is as much as the narrative goes, THE ROAD WARRIOR is as exciting as any action flick seen on screen for a long time. There are tons of explosions, car chases, dismemberments, violence, blood and gore. Of all the mayhem, two supporting characters stand out – the gyro man (Bruce Spence) and the viral kid (Emil Minty) whose steel boomerang can never be forgotten for what it did in the film.
ZARDOZ (UK 1974) **
Directed by John Boorman
Director John Boorman’s vision of the apocalypse results in one of the silliest films of the genre, surprising after he had just made the excellent horror camping drama DELIVERENCE. In Zardoz, the world has ended in the future with Zed (Sean Connery) playing an assassin before he enters a flying head to discover a civilization led by Charlotte Rampling who have conquered death and now decided to die. This reversal of death is to be believed that it can be accomplished by the destruction of the tabernacle which only Zed can fulfil. The script is utter nonsense and all over the place. The premise is unbelievable as well and the fact that an entire civilization can exist inside a flying head is preposterous. The special effects are just as cheesy! But more ridiculous is the fact that Connery struts about the entire film wearing a red thong while Rampling rides a horse hunting him down. Lot of nudity and rape too in this film, according to Boorman’s view of the world’s end!