Review: The Road DVD

STUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat | CAST: Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit-McPhee
RELEASE DATE: 5/25/2010 | PRICE: DVD $27.96, Blu-ray $34.95
BONUSES: commentary, deleted and extended scenes, trailers
SPECS: R | 111 min. | Adventure | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

When it comes to “laugh riots,” you can’t get any further from the term than The Road, director John Hillcoat’s appropriately bleak adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s grim but popular apocalyptic novel. This (end-of-the) road movie stars Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings) as a man who travels across an eponymous countryside with his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In), dodging scavengers, cannibals, starvation and odd survivors along the way. As the father and son continue their dangerous journey towards the water, the father has flashbacks of his loving but doomed wife (Charlize Theron, Hancock), who left the family earlier.

Australian filmmaker Hillcoat, who helmed 2005’s intense western The Proposition, paces the anecdotal film leisurely, with tension slowly mounting with each passing episode. Those unfamiliar with the book will not know what awaits father and son around each corner, and those who have read it should be happy that Hillcoat remains true to the source.

The fact that the event that caused the near-annihilation of the world is never explained adds to the eeriness of the production, which also employs some spacey music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and effective CGI “desolation” effects. A subtly expressive Mortensen leads the small but uniformly excellent cast, and there are some surprise supporting turns throughout the proceedings.

The Road is admittedly a tough sell because of its downbeat content, but the book’s popularity and the recent cinematic success of the Coen Brothers’ translation of McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men certainly warrants more attention it received in theaters where it played on a limited basis. It’s likely that interested parties at home will find The Road worth travelling on DVD and Blu-ray despite of all of its ghostly perils.

The DVD and Blu-ray also comes with deleted and extended scenes and a commentary that gives information about the film’s production.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.