THE QUIET EARTH
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Bruno Lawrence as Zac Hobson
Alison Routledge as Joanne
Pete Smith as Api
What's it about
What would you do if you woke up one day and discovered that you were the last man on Earth?
Is it good movie?
Zac Hobson wakes up at exactly 6:12 AM to a strange flash of light in the sky, and pulls himself out of his stupor to face the day. A task made difficult by the fact that he appears to be the only person left on Earth. His fellow planetary denizens seem to have disappeared in a collective puff of smoke, and a trip to the scientific research facility where he (used to) work confirms to him that his company, and his very research project itself, are the most probable culprits. This sends him sailing merrily over the edge of sanity. He gads about town, living the high life, and eventually declares himself president of the world. Until he meets lovely redheaded Joanne, that is. She straightens him out…until they both meet the dark and mysterious Api, that is. Schism ensues between the trio, and they attempt to shelve their differences in lieu of possibly reversing the damage and putting the world to rights.
The Quiet Earth was hailed as a landmark Kiwi film, made at a time when New Zealand was doling out huge tax breaks for local productions, in an attempt to kick-start a film industry and get themselves on the cinematic map (if only they knew what a pivotal role they would play in Hollywood in the coming decades). The major consequence of those tax breaks was an enormous amount of shite films being made expressly for the producers to pocket huge paychecks for little expenditure of work. Which is what made it all the more impressive that The Quiet Earth, one of the few films of the period done as a serious production, was received so warmly by the populace.
Unfortunately, I cannot count myself among the ranks of this film’s fans. It is a story told in four acts, and it goes from inspired to insipid in that order. The opening is brilliant, the isolation and loneliness and eventual descent into madness of Zac is told with breathless tension and the blackest humor in equal amounts. But as soon as Joanne enters the picture, the film downshifts and becomes slightly more predictable. Still decent, just not ringing the cherries anymore. Sadly, the introduction of Api just brings everything to a grinding halt. The film bogs down in unrealistic interpersonal relationships, and the pseudo-science spouted during the conclusion would make even the most limber sci-fi geek cringe in embarrassment. The end visual is truly striking, but cannot make up for the limping, bleeding last half hour of this initially promising film.
Video / Audio
Video:: Anamorphic widescreen, 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Surround sound 2.0
The special features on this disc are basically the theatrical trailer, and a commentary by writer/producer and almost director Sam Pillsbury. The former is standard fare, and the latter is a decent enough effort. Pillsbury tells tales of what was basically a group of mates having fun and making it up as they went along. They had fun, and he admits that they knew immediately that they had basted a sizable turkey. Their success astounded them completely. Me too.
The Quiet Earth is a film that will evoke thoughts of Night of the Comet and I Am Legend, and especially 28 Days Later (the opening shot, complete with male full frontal nudity, is eerily similar in both films) but is not nearly as satisfying as any of them in the long run (even the flawed Legend). Bruno Lawrence does a credible job playing against his normal blue-collar type, and the first act gives it a decent go, but it just can’t sustain itself in the finish. Many liberties were taken with the source novel, and I would love to detail them, but it is out of print and goes for $350 at Amazon. No thanks.
One final note: this release comes a mere two years after the previous Anchor Bay release, and appears to be the exact same product. Other than the new Cult Classics slipcover, everything else, cover artwork, runtime, everything, seems to be exactly the same. Just seems a bit strange to me, is all.