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Now or Then – The Road or The Road Warrior?

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Now: The Road (2009)Then: The Road Warrior (1981)

Not all post-apocalyptic wastelands are created equal, and it’s fair to say that there are many differences between John Hillcoat’s somber survival drama The Road and George Miller’s scifi Western demolition derby The Road Warrior. But the two movies do make for an interesting comparison — whether it’s in the changing nature of how their generations thought of The Apocalypse, or in their common tales of men redeemed by children. Herewith, an assessment.

An Unexplained Apocalypse

The Road: For some reason, the world is now basically a dead wasteland where all vegetation and animal life (except some humans) has vanished. Global warming is briefly hinted at.

The Road Warrior: Some kind of resource war has led to the world becoming a dead wasteland, where fuel is now the most precious commodity on earth. World War III is briefly hinted at.

The Man Who Lost Everything

The Road: As we see in flashbacks, The Man (Viggo Mortensen) lost his wife (Charlize Theron) after the apocalypse. He still has his son (Kodi Smit McPhee) but he has lost the ability to trust others, and refuses to help those in need.

The Road Warrior: As we see in flashbacks, Max (Mel Gibson) lost his wife and child after the apocalypse. He now has his dog and his car, but he has lost the ability to trust others, and refuses to help those in need.

The Bad Guys
The Road: Desperate, ragged bands of marauding crazies roam the countryside. They like to at their fellow humans for breakfast.

The Road Warrior: Desperate, leather-clad bands of crazed punks travel the countryside. They like to use their fellow humans as hood ornaments.

The Children Are Our Future

The Road: The Boy does not know what life was like before the apocalypse. Even so, his innate goodness gives his cynical father hope for the future.

The Road Warrior: The Feral Kid (Emil Minty) doesn’t have a family, speaks in grunts, and can throw a mean boomerang, skills that help him win Max’s respect. He eventually becomes the leader of the Great Northern Tribe.

To The Sea!
The Road: The Man and The Boy are determined to stay on course for the ocean. When they get there, however, things don’t go as planned.
The Road Warrior: Max and the Feral Kid attempt to drive a tanker full of gasoline for a group of settlers who are determined to head to the sea. Things don’t go as planned.

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