Post-apocalyptic dramas are certainly in fashion in pop culture right now, whether we’re talking about big-budget tentpoles (Mad Max: Fury Road), studio film adaptations of popular young adult literature (The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, etc.), or lower-budgeted independent fare (The Rover). That’s another way of saying that Z for Zachariah – a big screen take on the late Robert C. O’Brien’s 1974 novel – is arriving at either a good or bad time, considering it too tells a story set after the collapse of global civilization.
Z for Zachariah stars Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Focus) as Ann Burden, a young American woman who’s managed to survive the aftermath of a nuclear war – but has started to fear that she may well (literally) be the last person alive on Earth. Things seem to start changing for the better when Ann encounters John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a scientist who’s nearly gone insane searching for other survivors (and/or an area that isn’t completely overtaken by radiation exposure), but who offers Anne good companionship. That is, before a mysterious fellow named Caleb (Chris Pine) shows up and makes the trio’s situation all the more complicated.
Craig Zobel directed the Z for Zachariah film adaptation, drawing from the adapted screenplay by Nissan Modi (Breaking at the Edge). Zobel earned a good deal of critical acclaim for his work on the disturbing true story-based slow-burn drama/thriller Compliance, and his new directorial effort appears to have be fueled by similar low-simmering tensions. Z for Zachariah also differs from other similarly grounded post-apocalyptic narratives (like The Road), in that it largely takes place within a setting that hasn’t been utterly devastated – unlike the surrounding ravaged landscapes of the post-fallout world.
That being said, the central premise for the cinematic version of Z for Zachariah – which appears to encompass a love triangle of sorts – does somewhat feel like a serious variation on the setup featured in the Will Forte comedy series The Last Man on Earth. Mind you, that’s not at all to say that premise can only be properly examined in a comical light (or that Last Man on Earth is the only previous post-apocalyptic work that Z for Zachariah brings to mind).
Check out the official poster for Z for Zachariah, below:
Z for Zachariah debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it earned a mixed-to-solid critical reception overall. Coming Soon, for example, notes in its review of the film that Z for Zachariah doesn’t really have mainstream appeal, but should draw “the arthouse crowd who appreciates [its] character-based storytelling.” Similarly, JoBlo‘s review acknowledges the movie will likely only interest the indie cinema fans out there, but that “it’s an interesting watch nonetheless and a really great showcase for Robbie.” On the other hand, Variety‘s review says the film “feels stranded somewhere between serious artistic ambition [and] dystopian franchise-building”, while the very title of the New York Post‘s review identifies Z for Zachariah as being a “post-apocalyptic snoozefest.”
The short of it: if you’re a fan of the post-apocalyptic sub-genre and/or indie cinema (and want to see the movie’s small, but impressive, cast in action), then Z for Zachariah might be something for you to go check out. Otherwise, this doesn’t necessarily sound like a sci-fi work that’s going to be of interest to a wide audience.
Z for Zachariah begins a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on August 21st, 2015.
Source: Roadside Attractions
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