If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Seventy minutes -- how far would you go to survive?
I did have a problem with the first twenty minutes but if come to realize that it's something that needs to happen. You've seen it before, movies that start out innocently in order for the events that follow afterwards to have more of an impact. Still, it's a little annoying.
Slow start aside, there are some other problems with this movie. One of them I admit of being a bias of mine; there are some coincidences that really bothered me. In the case of this movie, I know that it's pushing fate as one of it's themes. Harry was meant to miss his date with Julie. He was meant to pick up that mis-dialed call. That I have no problem with -- we wouldn't have a movie otherwise. But at the point where there happens to be an influential stock broker at the diner, who happens to have dated several government officials long enough to know about surviving a nuclear holocaust, who happens to know people in Washington...at that point it's lost me. There were some other occasions where things like this took me out of the movie. There is a thin line between quirky fate and convenient writing.
Okay, at this point it may sound like I'm totally trashing this movie, but it isn't all bad. Not at all.
Harry is such a great character that you will find yourself rooting for him. You want him to find his girlfriend. You want him to get the hell out of L.A. You'll care for him enough to be nervous when he really pushes the boundaries of his own morality in order to do what it takes to get to Julie. Anthony Edwards does a great job at portraying a regular guy just trying to get to save his girlfriend.
Yes, she has a mullet (?) for some reason.
There is a manic pace that this movie goes through after the diner scene. Things are always happening, Harry is always moving. This really worked to make you anxious and to remind you that everyone here is on borrowed time. According to that engineer at the silo, Harry has seventy minutes before the nukes land. At first the movie does follow the actual timeline (the movie is only an hour and twenty seven minutes long.) Things are happening in real time. It ends up straggling along for a while and it seems that it's completely forgotten the countdown, but it redeems itself by explaining the reason as to why. I appreciated that.
The fast pacing also lends itself to something that I actually like in cinema. Things happen so fast and get so crazy that you see things happening on the periphery that leave you asking questions. You may see someone you recognize from earlier on the movie and you ask yourself "what the hell?" Things like this remind you that there is a world larger than the scope of the movie. This aspect, however, also suffers from what I (guess) I'll call convenient writing. At the risk of not spoiling the movie I will not go too in depth into this. I just felt that something goes by unexplained in a way that it sets up the movie for its conclusion. It doesn't feel as if that's the only way the movie could have ended, but rather it feels as the way the writers wanted to end it. I'll leave it at that.
Hokey writing aside, I really did end up enjoying the movie. I was never bored (okay the first twenty minutes really tried my patience) and once the movie really starts, it will take you on a nice ride. If anything it's interesting to watch this movie as a predecessor to, uhm, certain movies.
Crossing the street becomes a perilous journey.
Part two coming this weekend.