This is an older post apocalyptic science fiction movie (1991), a genre I’ve always loved. I think as a writer it appeals to me to take all the building blocks of our current world, jumble them around with some catastrophe and then see what the new possibilities are. Unfortunately, the post apocalypse usually leaves things pretty grim. The weather and the solar radiation seem to be the problem here, stirred into a lethal soup by some science experiment gone awry. (I may do SPOILERS – sorry!)
With a vaguely “Stagecoach” style plot, the movie takes an ill assorted small band of people through enemy held territory, trying to reach the safety of the big city. The star of the movie is Michael Ironside, an actor that I’ve always enjoyed. He mostly plays villains and does it VERY well, but in this one he gets to be the hero with an angsty past, the deadly gunslinger with a not-so-hidden soft heart…he has a hot tub scene with Vanity (ok, so it’s a badly explained post apocalyptic hot tub but still…) and an artistically staged love scene…and a Happily Ever After For Now ending, going off to the Yukon in a jeep. (It’s HFN only because at one point someone drops the information on us that the stories of the Yukon having become Paradise on Earth may be a wee bit exaggerated. Still, I have every confidence he can make it work.)
I think part of Mr. Ironside’s appeal for me is the sense that not only can he handle everything anyone throws at him, he’s thinking deep and snarky thoughts…and I’m a sucker for his growly voice.
There are things in the plot that raise my eyebrows. Take the spoiled rich girl (well played by Juliet Landau) who just came back from Switzerland. I mean, really? Switzerland??? How did she get there (since it’s clear no planes are flying). How does she not know how dangerous the road trip to Neon City is going to be? Didn’t she just traverse most of devastated America to reach the outpost of Jericho? I guess she’s the stand-in for *us*, so when people explain things to her, WE get it. She’s read ALL but one of of Agatha Christie’s books by the way, which while I LOVE a woman who reads, how in post-apocalyptic America, with no internet, eBay or Amazon, did she get her hands on 80 detective novels? Did her rich daddy have gangs of riders out scouring the destroyed libraries and bookstores for them? (Yup, writers tend to focus on those nit picky plot holes. Makes it hard to properly enjoy the bigger picture sometimes LOL). What will she read next? Nero Wolfe maybe?
I did love that the mysterious villain, as much as there is one, who caused the apocalypse, is a former NASA guy who had only the best of intentions as he turned the pollution and the sunshine deadly (don’t try to follow the science, ok?)…who plays the piano AND who whips up a nifty laser gun for Michael out of odds and ends hanging around in the dilapidated transport bus as they’re on the run…cause yeah, NASA guys can totally do that with your flashlight and duct tape. (Unless your batteries are dead, then you’re out of luck and the bad guys have their way with you.) I bet the current NASA Mohawk Guy could do that (said with total respect).
I liked Vanity’s portrayal of the misunderstood (and really innocent-of-the-crime-for-which-she-was-convicted) tough girl heroine..she went toe to toe with Michael Ironside and you believed the attraction there…if maybe not the wig…
I must add that the late Lyle Alzado delivers an emotional, effective turn as the transport driver…
The movie is fast paced….
So there you have it, another in my once-in-awhile-review of my favorite old movies! Is there an old movie you’ve been dying to see again but can’t find? Or a favorite you return to, over and over?