Sunday, November 15, 2015

Z for Zachariah - 6 stars out of 10

Z for Zachariah - 6 stars out of 10

They probably could’ve called this movie by any other title because there are so few similarities to the original book by Robert C. O’Brien.  I generally expect (and welcome) small alterations in a movie adaptation if it will strengthen the story or help the story to translate better onscreen, but to take a story that only has two characters and add a third?  And completely alter the personality and actions of the first character?  And rewrite the majority of the events of the film… and rewrite the ending to be the complete opposite of the original?  I would say that, as an adaptation, this film is a complete failure.  As a standalone story, it builds great drama from its simplicity.  Well, except for the most sudden ending ever written, of course.  I would dare the screenwriters to leave an ending more open-ended but I’m pretty sure that it can’t be done.  Reading the synopsis of the book, you would swear that there is no possible way that this could be the same story.  Some helpful information (not as a spoiler, but something that is implied but never clearly stated), a nuclear apocalypse destroys the earth with the exception of a small weather pocket that preserves earth as it used to be.  The setting is well-developed and the characters display great depth.  Margot Robbie (the girl from “About Time”) commands half of the film’s screen time and accomplishes the transition from girl to woman.  I love anything with Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine adds a complete contrast.  I really like the treatment of these characters and the way that their chemistry builds so much tension.  With three great performances like this, you would expect a 10-star rating but the vagueness of the story and severe departures from the original story create a distraction.  “Z for Zachariah” is a good dystopian drama but it unfortunately falls into a category with “The Giver” instead of “The Hunger Games.”

[Pictured: Three great acting performances don’t always equal one great movie]

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