Gentle Snowfall and Apocalypse Movies

Snow falling all morning and now into afternoon.  I went out and shoveled once this morning, took the truck out and did a couple miles on the gym treadmill, then errands (more DRA food books dropped at the library) and back home.

Looks like I’m going to need to shovel again.  Last I checked the NOAA weather said it would taper off by three (that’s half an hour from now).  Last night they were saying it’d be done by noon, so I might want to check again before I commit to shoveling again.  Twice is really enough for one day.

Oh, and I forgot about returning the movie we rented last night, so that will be a walking errand.  We don’t watch movies much at all during the farming season, so we catch up by watching a lot of them during the winter months.

Two nights ago we rented that Batman movie Dark Knight.  I was interested in seeing the Heath Ledger Joker, as there was a lot of hype and then the Oscar talk, and I wondered if it was because of his death that the performance was getting so much talk.  Turned out, it was amazing.  I’m not a comic book fan or a superhero movie fan, but that film was fantastic, and the Ledger Joker is iconic.

Last night’s film was a disappointment.  I have no idea why I picked up I Am Legend because I don’t like scary monster suspense movies.  For some reason I thought it was just about this guy wandering around Manhattan the whole time–a sort of New York Castaway (I’m not really a Tom Hanks fan, either).  Not hoards of scary rabid flesh-eating zombies.

Oh, and [Spoiler Alert!] then he had to kill his own beloved dog, which is no good at all.  I’d rather see Will Smith’s character die than the dog.  Turns out I got to see both.

In the end, the little town of Bethel, Vermont has some colony for survivors and the immune.  So the girl who shows up late in the movie gets there with the blood from a cured zombie to use in making a vaccine, and as they open the gates, there’s a live, happy dog frolicking around.

One interesting bit about this movie, though, was that I started to feel a little sorry for the virus-infected rabid-acting people.  I mean, they were still people (albeit scary, and with flesh-eating tendencies) and they were still a community together (though unable to go out in the sunlight).

When Smith’s character sets a trap at the entrance to one “hive” (as he dehumanizingly calls their dwellings) and captures a young female (whacking her with the butt of his rifles to knock her out), one of the men comes running just to the door of the hive, obviously upset (but he can’t chase Smith’s character, who is in the sunlight).

Later, that same man sets a trap for Smith’s character using the same principles Smith used to capture the young woman.  To me, that showed a desire not only for a fresh meal for the zombies–but revenge for his capturing their compatriot–possibly even the zombie man’s wife or girlfriend or daughter.

Later, when you see Smith’s lab through the eyes of the young woman who saves him from his dog’s death-induced kamikaze attempt to kill as many viral zombies as he can before they get him, you see dozens and dozens of photographs he’s taken of the zombie people he’s captured and killed while experimenting on them, trying to find a cure for the disease.

When they’re trying to break into the lab to kill and eat him, he keeps shouting at them that he can “save” them, and I can’t help but think, why would they want a guy who has, in their eyes, mass murdered a whole bunch of them to be their savior?  If anything, he’s the weirdo–since there’s a much larger percentage of people who were infected but did not die (and so became these zombie-like creatures) than there are people like him who were naturally immune (most of whom ended up being eaten).

Of course, to him, the virus is something to be cured, and he’s the “normal” one, and so he considers it perfectly legitimate to capture and kill as many virus-infected people as he can in pursuit of a cure.  One thing that makes his practices slightly less objectionable is that he first tests his vaccines on infected rats, and only when one of the series shows promise does he progress to “human trials” (and he does call them human trials).

In general, there’s this weird fascination with apocalypse movies and literature in our culture, and sometimes I do get drawn in to watching them, just to see what the latest disaster scenario is about (aliens? zombies? disease? nuclear holocaust?).  But this disease-that-turns-people-into-crazed-zombies plot has been done before and done better, though I can’t ever recall feeling quite so sorry for the crazed zombies as I did in this version.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Matt on December 16, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I Am Legend is my favorite vampire story, a novella by Richard Matheson. I’ll never watch the movie because I know just from what I’ve read here and from what I’ve heard that they butchered the original story. Even though the movie wasn’t sold that way, you seem to have inferred the original twist in the book, that is, that Neville turns out to be the “anomaly.” And they were vampires, not zombies. Big damn difference, Hollywood. By the same rationale, I refuse to watch The Golden Compass. I prefer the way the original stories were imagined in my own mind.

  2. I totally relate to what Matt has said – although I was not smart enough to avoid seeing The Golden Compass… I foolishly thought that if actors like Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig had signed on, maybe it would be at least decent. I was wrong! This is my all-time favorite series, and they ruined it. It was terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. Do not rent it, Rebecca.

  3. Posted by flyingtomato on December 17, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I’ve read His Dark Materials and I have seen Golden Compass. My usual strategy with these types of things is to not expect the movie to be anything like the book. In that way, it’s easier to enjoy the movie as its own thing.

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