Adam-12: Season Two
The post-apocalyptic thriller is one of the oldest forms of storytelling. It pervades most major religions and has been a central theme for literature and films since their inception. It is something that people have a natural curiosity about; what will happen at the end of the world. In more recent years, this theme has driven two specific film genres, horror and science fiction, which are only natural since these types of stories are more than conducive to such a dark subject matter. There are a few central elements of such a story that are present in most of the stories. Typically the writer takes the current fears, social environment and political climate and exaggerates them to a twisted view of the future. The key here is to find things that may seem benign but have the potential to escalate to the point of posing a threat to our civilization. Some of these films have become cult classics like the ‘Mad Max’ flicks. Like most of this type of film it offered a bleak portrayal of the future where war has ravaged the world and gasoline was in short supply.
When you think of it this film seems to be more prophetic than many would care to admit. That is another factor that has made these films so popular. While it is unlikely that a guy with long knives for fingers will kill you in your sleep it is possible that disease and war will devastate the world; it may seem like this sub-genre has become overcrowded by this point in time and to some extent it has. That is why a film like ‘20 Years After’ by Jim Torres was such a refreshing change of pace. Just as I settled in to watch what I thought would be just another variation on the same on flick that has be retread ad nauseum I found myself pulled into the story and very pleasantly surprised. The film has been making its rounds with the science fiction festivals and conventions. Now it is possible to get a copy for your own enjoyment through the DVD by MTI.
The script was created by Jim Torres and Ron Harris. Torres has one horror short film to his name, and this is the first script for Harris. They must have been paying attention while watching the numerous films in this genre since they got a lot of it on this their first try at a screenplay. First they had to come up with an etiology for the apocalyptic future they depict. As the title of the movie indicates it has been two decades since terrorism, war and numerous natural disasters have crushed culture as we know it today. Words like hope and safety have all but dropped out of the vocabulary of the meager groups of survivors. In one such group a young woman, Sarah (Azura Skye) discovers that she is pregnant. While this is not an unusual occurrence in our world in this dark future it has been fifteen years since the last successful live birth. Our species is on the verge of extinction. On an old radio Sarah hears a voice, Michael (Joshua Leonard) whose voice and snippets of music he has scavenged offer a glimmer of hope. The course of action that confronts Sarah is forced. She has to leave the relative safety of her basement abode when a serve drought and people after her soon to be born baby compel her to flee. With nowhere else to go Sarah sets out and eventually encounters Michael. He is part of a community called the Three Caves. From there they pair strike out through the dreaded Southern Corridor to find a place where her baby can be born.
What sets this story apart from so many of the lackluster flicks of this genre is how the story reflects some classic themes. One is directly from the kind of work done by mythologist Joseph Campbell. He helped to define the aspects needed for the story of a hero. Many of these essential elements are to be found here. A hero typically has to meet a mentor of some sort, and they set out on an epic journey that will test his mettle in every imaginable way. Here the role of mentor is nicely filled by the character of Michael. He is on the same basic predicament as Sarah but is a bit savvier as to how to get by in the new world. Sarah is driven by the most basic and primitive force that can affect a person; maternal instinct. A woman will risk everything to ensure the safety of the child she is carrying. Sarah has the most unselfish motive possible, another hallmark of the classic hero. According to experts like Campbell such a hero has to arise from extremely humble origins. The scenes with Sarah’s early life bring this point home. This is more than just a dark look at a possible future. So many post-apocalyptic flicks just try to scare the audience with a dystopian view of what is now on the horizon. Torres has turned this concept on its end and made a film that celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit. No matter how rough it gets Sarah pushes on with only the most meager glimmer of hope to keep her going.
As a director, Torres scores a solid hit with this film. It may be his first time helming a feature-length film but he demonstrates skill and style that will certainly carry him to other interesting films. Along with cinematographer William 'Bill' Sweikart he provides a visually interesting movie that will draw you in. It was apparently made for only one million dollars. This may seem like a lot but it is about one fifth the budgets of the Sci-Fi channel’s Saturday night original films. The colors are slightly muted giving the movie a look and feel that sets and maintains the mood. Also helping a lot here is the cast. Azura Skye may be young and just a wisp of a young woman but her small frame is packed with talent. I have been a fan of hers for years with her many appearances on popular television series and her perchance for showing up in quirky film roles. She balances the strength and vulnerability that makes Sarah a fascinating character. She also infuses her portrayal with little traits that help the audience want to see her succeed. Joshua Leonard is best known to horror fans for his initial film role in ‘The Blair Witch Project.’ He as made numerous appearances on various television series and here is the perfect foil for Ms Sky. Together they have unusual chemistry that transcends the normal ‘boy-girl’ thing and takes the story in an interesting direction. This film is a heroic quest story that is well crafted and should not be missed.
MTI has been providing some of the quirkiest independent films around. They are always a great place to go for something different and new. This is just one member of their catalog and should be part of your collection.
Posted 10/12/08 Posted 08/01/2019