The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
If he were told the world were ending tomorrow, Martin Luther once said, he would plant a tree. Werner Herzog would start a film. In "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," Steve Carell plays an insurance salesman but finds little point in selling a whole-life policy. An asteroid 70 miles wide is on a collision path with Earth, and governments have announced it will slam into its target in three weeks' time.
To me, even worse than this catastrophe would be foreknowledge of it. To die is one thing. How much worse to know that all the life that ever existed on this planet, and all it ever achieved, was to be obliterated? Dodge (Carell) looks a little gloomy at the best of times. Now life is really piling on. A space-shuttle mission to destroy the asteroid has failed, and to make things worse, Dodge's wife has walked out on him and joined the man she really loves.
The end of the world is hardly a rare subject for movies; recently we've had "Melancholia" and "Another Earth," and who could forget Don McKellar's bittersweet "Last Night" (1998)? Lorene Scafaria, the writer-director of this film, approaches the subject as an opportunity for melancholy satire and some gentle romance. It amounts to sort of a romanic comedy, although it makes no promises of providing a happy ending.
Some people riot in the streets. There are looters, determined to have a new big-screen TV, no matter how few days are left to watch it. There are orgies and mass baptisms. Cable news inevitably attaches a catchphrase and some theme music to the apocalypse. Radio stations have countdowns. Dodge, alone and lonely in his apartment, unexpectedly finds himself caring for a dog. That's when I realized what I would do if I knew the world was ending. I would find a homeless mother dog with puppies and be calmed by her optimism.