Monday, November 15, 2010

The Quiet Earth makes some noise

Vincent Price wakes up to another day fighting the undead.

Bruno Lawrence starts his morning discovering everyone else is gone.

My blog began with a review of the last man on earth vincent price.

Twenty-one years after that Italian release hit the screens, The Quiet Earth from New Zealand was released in 1985. How fitting it's my second review.

It's neat to compare how the two films handle the same scenario. What does the last man on Earth do?

Price's character, Robert Morgan, has battled vampires/zombies since a plague wiped out mankind.

Zac Hobson (Lawrence) can't find anybody as he prepares to start another day as a government research scientist. He fills up his car at the gas station, but there's no attendant. A kettle boils. There's a magazine on the washroom floor.

Hobson finds abandoned vehicles on the streets, but no humans.

He visits a home, presumably of someone he knows, and discovers a breakfast tray in a bed, but no residents.

"Hello, is anybody out there?" he pleads over a transport's CB radio.

A hint of Price's Morgan going mad was suggested after three years of battling the undead. Hobson begins his descent into insanity a week after the rest of the world disappears.

While Morgan had nothing to do with humanity's demise, Hobson knows he played a role in wiping out mankind.

His research department, and many others, were working together on Project Flashlight. There's a few details given about this operation, including the powering of jet planes without needing to refuel.

There's a neat plot development about Hobson's reaction to the project in the film's final third.

The Quiet Earth, just like The Last Man on Earth, adds another character or two as the film progresses. You might think a handful of surviving humans could get along when the rest of mankind is gone. You'd be wrong.

Hobson learns Project Flashlight could be responsible for another disaster. Maori trucker Api (Pete Smith) takes a fancy to Joanne (Alison Routledge), who was first to meet with Hobson and begin a romantic relationship.

There's several references to characters thinking they are now the Almighty. Hobson destroys a church's crucifix with several shotgun blasts and proclaims, "Now I am God."

What Hobson, Api and Joanne have in common adds an interesting twist in the film's final 30 minutes. Are they dreaming? Have they entered a parallel universe? "The end of the world is just the beginning," suggests the film's trailer.

The Quiet Earth ends with a powerful image of Hobson on a beach. Keep watching through the credits for a final image of the scientist reacting to what he has helped create.

The Quiet Earth earned eight New Zealand Academy Awards including best film, actor, director and screenplay. Director Geoff Murphy's later credits included Freejack with the unlikely pairing of Mick Jagger and Emilio Estevez and Young Guns II.

Lawrence (Smash Palace, Warlords of the 21st Century) died of lung cancer in 1995. He was 54. Routledge has only appeared in a handful of films in the last 25 years. The Last Man on Earth was Smith's film debut. His other credits include Once Were Warriors and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Hollywood take note. The Quiet Earth cost about $1 million to make. Big dollars and plenty of explosions does not always equal a critically-praised film that, gasp, makes audiences think.

Rating: 7/10

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