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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 10.16.08] post apocalyptic movie news

Uh-oh... Last night, a test screening of John Hillcoat's The Road went down in NY City and we've been clocking some of the forum feedback that's been flowing (mostly from CHUD and IMDB). From the sounds of things, the film was a pretty unfinished workprint full of temp voices, missing scenes, and unfinished special FX but, perhaps most alarming of all are some changes that have obviously occurred in the transition from script to screen and issues of pacing and tone.

"There is voiceover dialogue that was clearly some of the "temp" dialogue we were warned about... not delivered as well as Viggo would have done and sapping some of the tension and urgency from these moments."

So this early cut apparently has a voiceover, something that was NOT in the script I reviewed. Curiouser still, it's not voiced by Viggo or anyone from the cast. Is The Road perhaps suffering from Blade Runner syndrome where the studio feels like people need more background so they wrote a bunch of voice over stuff? [Editor's note:We've recently discovered that there was no voiceover. Go here for more].

You also might remember that I alluded to some odd handling of Charlize Theron's character of The Wife in the script. Well, it sounds like these problems have made their way onto the screen and some people are severely hating her performance and character. But don't take my word for it. Reprinted after the break are some of the things people have been saying. Keep in mind that these early screenings are designed to rip films apart so that the filmmakers can gain perspective on how they're playing. I'm reminded that Blindness' early tests. didn't go down so well either.

"The introduction is awful, featuring a roughly five-minute montage of repetitive scenery as the opening credits roll cross-cut with out-of-chronological-order flashbacks to Charlize Theron (who is awful). Theron has four short scenes, starting out as a goddess in a perfect world eating ripe strawberries degrading into madness. It's hard to present such a perfect ideal's degradation into misery in five minutes. Such little thought was put into her character that she might as well be cut from the final print."

"The scenery, make-up, and overall atmosphere are exactly as they should be, and the director really successfully shows the author's vision on the screen."

"There are continuous, stock shots of the father and son trudging across the dismal countryside punctuated by set pieces which were more often than not pretty well-done, specifically the fallout shelter and old man scenes. However these set pieces always alternated between happy and sad, leading to that annoying episodic feeling. This is what it was like:

Father & Son Walk ==> Sad Set Piece ==> Walk ==> Happy Set Piece ==> Repeat ad nauseum"

"The first fifteen minutes or so are perhaps somewhat disjointed as it's very flashback-y for a while, and for a time I was worried the movie was going to put too much emphasis on Charlize. Because it keeps jumping back and forth, it takes a bit to establish the bleak world we're in, and I thought maybe they could have spread these flashbacks out more. But once the movie really gets going, it finds an excellent rhythm for a very long time."

"I think there was one positive element to the experience, and that's Nick Cave's score, and it sounded like he had only completed three or four tracks for the whole thing and they looped it as temp."

"Harvey Weinstein was at the screening, and he left early- whatever that means, I'll leave to the pundits. But not only is the film unfinished for its supposed November release date, it's also a complete fiasco on every creative level."

"Not a single scene worked. Not one. I imagine they can fix it in some way, in editing, but they can't recast the distracting supporting players, and there's only so much they can reshoot. Maybe too early to tell, but from what I could see, it's got the makings of a massive disappointment."

From the sounds of some of those comments this is the reason that The Road has been pushed back (maybe until 2009) and a trailer has yet to be released. There have been so many fantastic films that tested terribly that I don't see this as any reason to get worried about the outcome of the film. Someone more famous that me once said that "films are made in the editing room" so once all is said and done I image the film will be more in line with our expectations. Oscar worthy? Who can say but for now things aren't looking all that sweet for our beloved The Road.

AICN also has a very positive reader submitted review that doesn't sound like a plant so check that out too.

Thanks to Laurie at The Road Rumors for the heads up.

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Laurie Mann (14 years ago) Reply

agentorange - Hey, thanks.

I was concerned when I first saw that CHUD review, but everything else I've found has been relatively positive to an out and out rave.

There has still been no formal announcement of a delay in release. I expect it might get pushed back, but that's still in the rumor stage. I wish some folks understood the difference between a rumor and an announcement!


Russ (14 years ago) Reply

After the proposition i figured Hillcoat would make something pretty awesome. I hope he doesn't disappoint.

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