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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Bracket Game: Children of Men Vs. The Road

children of Men Vs. The Road

It’s the end of the world as we know it.  And I feel fine.  In celebration of Mad Max: Fury Road, we’re getting post-apocalyptic.  So get ready to fight off zombies, scavenge for goods and run for your life!  And maybe spend some quality time in an abandoned mall or Bill Murray’s house.  We’re looking at what happens in movies when society crumbles.  Are we replaced by apes or pod people?  Is Kevin Costner a fish person or a postman?  Our dystopian future is up to you.

PA Movies

Our zom-com bracket was another tight race.  But the power of Bill Murray and Twinkies was enough to give Zombieland the win over Shaun of the Dead.  So Zombieland will advance to the second round where it will face the granddaddy of the modern zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead.  Until then, we’ll be moving on from the zombie apocalypse to look at other ways the world could end.

Today, we’re getting literary with two movies based on novels.   There’s actually a surprising number of adaptations in this bracket game.  Apart from the four zombie movies and two Mad Maxes, Waterworld is the only movie in the game that isn’t at least loosely based on a novel.  Our adaptations today are Children of Men and The Road.

Children of Men was based on the 1992 novel of the same name.  The movie takes place in the year 2027.  Humanity is in danger of extinction because women have mysteriously become infertile.  Most of the world governments have collapsed with only the United Kingdom remaining stable.  Clive Owen played a former activist who reluctantly agrees to protect the first pregnant woman in 18 years.

Despite critical acclaim, Alfonso Cuarón’s thoughtful thriller failed to catch on with audiences.  It opened in first place in the UK.  But it bombed in the US.  Even with the worldwide grosses, Children of Men failed to recoup its $76 million dollar production costs.  At the time, Owen was considered a rising star.  But box office failures like Children of Men caused his career to cool off quickly.

The Road is based on the  Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 novel of the same name.  The movie is set in an unspecified future where life is not sustainable.  No explanation is given, but most plants and animals have died.  Food is scarce and the few humans who are left have to fight for survival.

Viggo Mortensen starred as a man who tries to take his son to the sea in hopes of finding a better life.  The Road is bleak!  Along the way, Mortensen frequently considers killing his son to spare him from a fate worse than death.  Whereas Children of Men is about hope and faith, The Road is about a world in which those ideas are practically meaningless.

Reviews were mostly positive, but The Road also bombed at the box office.  It opened in 10th place and grossed under $10 million dollars.  Counting worldwide grosses, it barely earned back its $25 million dollar production costs.  Although neither movie was a hit at the box office, they have both developed cult followings on video.

Which adaptation do you prefer?  Clive Owen protecting the world’s only pregnant woman from radicals or Viggo Mortensen protecting his son from cannibals?

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Posted on May 14, 2015, in bracket game, Movies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. daffystardust

    I haven’t seen The Road yet, but I’m enthusiastic enough about Children of Men to go ahead and vote for it anyway. To call it hopeful by comparison means The Road really must be exceedingly dark. Clive Owen really did seem to be all set for big things for a few years there, but he never really had that breakout hit. I guess The Knick is the only thing currently keeping him from What the Hell Happened territory (now that it has been expanded to include performers who never really became as successful as they might have). His brand of charm just never seemed accessible enough for him to make it as a leading man. His turns as heavies looked more on target to me.

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    • I think Owen could have been a good Bond. He makes a good brute like in Sin City. But he didn’t seem interested in the kind of roles that could have made him a star. So, yeah, we’ll see Own in WTHH eventually.

      I watched The Road almost by accident. I really didn’t have any interest. I didn’t even really know what it was about when I watched it. But it was so dark and depressing, it haunted me. It’s one of the bleakest movies I have ever seen. And from what I understand, it slightly tones down the darkness of the novel. Mortensen’s prized possession is a gun with two bullets. Not for self-protection but so that he can safely kill himself and his son before something worse happens to them. He spends a significant amount of the movie with a gun pointed at his son’s head. There’s a scene which is one of the most frightening and disturbing I have ever seen in any movie.

      I can see why a lot of people were put off by The Road. But I like an apocalypse movie to leave me shaken. The Road did that better than any other movie apocalypse I have ever seen.

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    • jeffthewildman

      I haven’t seen The Road. I have however read the novel and it definitely is bleak. McCarthy’s novels usually are, with Blood Meridian being his darkest.

      Children Of Men I love. It’s tied with Scorsese’s The Departed at the top of my 10 best films of 2006 list. It’s bleak. But has humor and ends on a hopeful note. Plus it also has some very well-staged action scenes. To me, it’s still Alfonso Cuaron’s best film.

      For a while it did look like Owen was headed for leading man status. But a combination of bombs like King Arthur, artistically successful movies like this that were regarded as failures because they failed at the box office and losing the role of 007 kept him from that. He was great here, as a good bad guy in Sin City and an anti-hero in the Spike Lee crime thriller Inside Man. Not to mention Closer. But at heart, he was always a character actor and that in the long run is what I suspect he’ll be remembered for.

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      • These are both solid, under-rated movies. Children of Men is the more revered of the two and arguably the better movie. But The Road hits more of my post-apocalypse check-marks. There’s really no losers this time around.

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    • Rock the Casbah

      Like Daffy, I’ve never seen The Road. But I think Children of Men is such a strong film that I definitely didn’t hesitate to vote for it. It not only presents a grim future but gives a glimpse at the totalitarian societies that might arise in such a world. Although bleak, it does offer a glimpse of hope at the end.

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  2. Children of Men was a really good movie. I’ve seen it a few times. Too bad it went mostly unnoticed by audiences. It is in my top 3 favorites in this game.

    I’ve only seen about half of The Road. We were watching it on Netflix one night but my girlfriend got really disturbed by the people in the basement scene. She couldn’t keep watching and I never got around to seeing the rest of it. If I was enthralled by the movie I’d probably have rewatched it by now, but my opinion up to the point we stopped was that it was an ok movie, but not really memorable.

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    • Yeah, the basement scene is the creepfest I was referring to in a previous comment.

      I can definitely see where some folks would be less than impressed with The Road. It’s bleak and not fun to watch. But I guess I respond to that kind of nihilism because it still hangs with me today. My recollections of Children of Men are that I enjoyed it. But the specifics are hazy.

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      • I’ll probably give The Road another watch sometime (alone I guess!). It is only fair to see the movie in its entirety before fully passing judgement. However, I saw enough to know that for me Children of Men was a better movie. But I can see where you are coming from on how it portrays a more realistic view of the apocalypse.

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  3. Wow, if Children of Men is seen as the hopeful, optimistic film of these two, I’m not sure I want to see The Road. Anyway, I do like Clive Owen and I like P.D. James (who wrote the source novel), and Children was a well-made and performed movie, so I give it my vote on that basis.

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