Working my way through the "stuff to watch" list.

I thought I had a theme running about halfway through. Either post apocalypse or simply dystopia. While that's indeed there, an unexpected theme emerged; emotional awakening. This is, of course, a required element in most stories. But in the bleakest stuff, it seems to be the only theme. Sometimes it's the only thing saving a piece from just being violent, narcissistic, porno.

The Walking Dead - Ooo, Zombies. Not generally my favorite genre, but some friends were taken by it. The world ends in a plague of moaning, necrotic, infectious, mostly dead, cannibals, as we follow the last of struggling humanity. You know the drill. It's well done, tense, and at times honestly scary. Our heroes are those who hold on to hope, even though it's not clear why.

The Road - Apocalypse grey. A bleak, miserable, dead world thing. A man and his son navigate the waste land, mostly just looking for food. Suicide is a strong, constant, disturbing element here. Human monsters are far more scary than anything undead. There is a desperate need to hold on to not just hope, but compassion. Slight spoiler: In the end, the movie isn't a total downer. I felt a little robbed by this, actually.

Metropia - a grey, animated, puppet like jerky motion ride. An Orwellian exercise that's convoluted and has as much depth as it has color. To be this artsy, I expected more for having to put up with it. Any clever ideas offered just didn't seem to come together.

Repo Men - A stock cyberpunk theme; artificial body parts are reposed if you can't pay the bills. An inconsistent black comedy with lots of senseless violence and blood splatter. While mostly predictable, it does have spots of genius. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.

Equilibrium - Tying together our dystopian extravaganza, a world on Prozac where it's illegal to stop taking it. A nice totalitarian extreme, where all emotion and things that evoke it are cauterized. Reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451, our hero is the enforcer who wakes up to his world. While overwhelmingly absurd, Christian Bale owns the screen and carries us along. Some good bloody violence. There's one bit where a wing chun sticky hands dance is done with pistols.

And now, for something completely different...

The Man from Earth - I was surprised this wasn't a play. A labor of love from SF writer Jerome Bixby, this no frills independent film made completely of dialog manages to engage. It runs almost like an SF writer's workshop; accept one absurd notion and then follow all the logical implications it introduces. Pure scifi and easily the most intelligent film of the lot. Worth a watch.
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