Sunday, July 01, 2012

Survival Movie Reviews

The term "survival" in regards to films is not entirely a genre but more of a concept or theme. Many movies can be categorized as a "survival film". For me, it is one where the characters may endure hardship, "strange" happenings, extreme tedious environment but fought valiantly for survival. Not everyone survives and not all environments are as tedious as others but the film should highlight some concept or journey of survival based loosely on its plot. Survival flicks may cover a wide range of genres: wilderness, survival by sea, zombie apocalypse, post-apocalyptic, invasion/war, Armageddon movies and much more. I have many more to watch but here are few reviews on some movies I have recently seen which can be categorized as survival.

The Way Back (2010)
When a group of men escape a Soviet Union prison camp and embark on a journey to freedom; only the journey isn't a short one at all. Enemies are all around and not enough food or water. The group must do all they can do in order to survive their treacherous journey by any means necessary. 
The Way Back highlights extreme cases of struggle and courage. Based on a true story, the movie had decent performances and Peter Weir should be commended for his directing. The film was engaging from start to finish. I only wished the characters were a bit more emotional.
Rating: 8/10

Quest for Fire (1982)
As the name states, it is a journey/quest for fire. Fire is a comfort and means of survival for these primitive group of humans so they embark on a long journey across tedious landscapes to find a tribe who can produce it. There's not really much dialogue between the humans but their interactions with each other were just appealing and fun to watch. A unique and cool film.
Rating: 7.5/10

Open Water (2003)
Based on a true story of a married couple who got stranded in the middle of the ocean after the diving boat they were on, left without them. When I say they were stranded, I mean they are both just floating around in the ocean lol. The funny thing about this story is that their individual jobs were causing a strain on their marriage so they took this vacation to be alone with each other. And oh yes they were indeed alone throughout their ordeal. Well not really, sharks and jellyfishes became their friends. Overall this movie was okay even though the main cast was a bit lame. I liked the style of film-making and the story line itself. Better actors were needed but overall Open Water is okay.
Rating: 6.5/10

Buried (2010)
Not your average survival film. Why? The whole length of this movie takes place in a dark wooden box. The cast of 'Buried' features Ryan Reynolds, a blackberry, a snake, a flask, a pen and a lighter. No flashbacks, no nothing, just Ryan in a dark box. Ryan is buried alive in a box in Iraq by terrorists who request ransom. No one knows where he is, air will run out and sand slowly seeps in the box so Ryan's survival chances are slim. The impressive part of 'Buried' is how Ryan Reynolds kept us engaged in this film. He successfully did so with his dialogue, emotions and limited props. I also liked the twist at the end, no one expected that.
Rating: 9/10

Rescue Dawn (2006)
Christian Bale was goofy and extremely fun to watch in this true story of survival about a man whose plane was shot down during the Vietnam war. Bale is taken prisoner at a camp but befriends the other prisoners, formulates a plan and they escape. Bale must stay alive so he can be rescued. What I liked a lot about Rescue Dawn were the characters (especially Bale and Steve Zahn) and how they bonded beautifully. Good directing and a heart-warming story, Rescue Dawn is a good watch.
Rating: 8.5/10

Into The Wild (2007)
The true story of Christopher McCandless who gave up his money and possessions and went in search of adventure. Chris shuns society and wanders off to different places and the wilderness. However we witness the consequences when one is unprepared and decides to take on nature. 'Into the Wild' is Sean Penn's debut as a director and he didn't disappoint. The characters were developed nicely and the cinematography was breath-taking. This is a unique adventure/survival film that conveys its message in a meaningful way and uses flashback effectively. Emile Hirsch shined in his role and gave us a movie to remember.
Rating: 9/10

Children of Men (2006)
For years, no one has been able to have children and the world faces the potential end of the human race. But when one man meets a pregnant girl, he has to get her to safety, not only for the child's survival but for the survival of the human race. A unique story involving politics and end of world theme accompanied by solid performances. Cinematography was a beauty and the story really gets you thinking and asking yourself what the world would be like if something like "this" happened. An original thriller worth watching.

Rating: 8.5/10

Lord of the Flies (1963)
A group of boys from a military academy are stranded on an island. Eventually they turn wild and start to kill each other. Not only were these group of boys fun to watch, we witness their survival skills and also see them evolve into savages while still practically being kids. A good classic.
Rating: 8/10

Lord of the Flies (1990)
A remake to the 1963 classic of the same name. It features a group of military academy boys stranded on a lonely island after their plane crashes. There were a few changes in the story line from the original film which were somewhat effective. However the issue I had with this remake was the use of profanity and the story became too adulterated. Still, it's an okay watch. 
Rating: 7/10

Sunshine (2007)
The sun is dying and that is not good news for the human race. A group of individuals is sent out to reignite the sun in hopes for Earth's survival. They face tremendous challenges on the voyage but was able to complete their task. The movie is filled with twists and solid acting. Danny Boyle's signature style is imprinted in this film and it was satisfying. An original story with great effects. 
Rating: 9/10

Van Diemen's Land (2009)
Based on a true story about Alexander Pearce's escape from prison with his fellow inmates and their journey to freedom. However the journey didn't quite pan out the way they wanted it. Food became non-existent in the wild so they resorted to cannibalism. The story evolved into "last man standing" theme which was pretty cool. A bit slow at parts but definitely a decent movie.
Rating: 7.5/10

Meek's Cutoff (2011)
This movie starts out a bit slow but gradually picks up steam as it goes along. A  near realistic portrayal of frontier life consisting of three families who hire a man name Stephen Meek to guide them over the mountains. However Mr Meek unknowingly gets the families lost in unfamiliar and rough terrain. With supplies and water running low, it becomes a battle of survival and also a battle of trust. Great directing by Kelly Reichardt in this interesting survival flick with solid performances by the ensemble cast. Character development and cinematography were key elements and overall Meek's Cutoff didn't disappoint.
Rating: 8/10


  1. glad to see your watching films such as the great Meek a Cutoff. I love all of these movies, but I must admit that I've never seen any of the lord of the flies (skipped that part of high school). I guess I need to catch up.

  2. Much love. Both films are cool, with the original better. check it out...

  3. nice shawna. jus nice. u gave me a couple new movies to watch. how did u find the 2nd pic at the top? had me laughin wen i realized its wat u chose for the theme

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