If the world really does end in 2012, I hope the apocalypse plays out like the one in The Book of Eli, the new film directed by Albert and Allen Hughes.
Granted, the post-apocalyptic world presented in the film is a bleak and desolate wasteland; a place where food and water are scarce and many survivors are either blind or illiterate. However, all in all, it doesn’t seem like such a terrible place – people still have iPods, KFC wet naps are plentiful and, although they are struggling to survive, everyone takes the time to pick out stylish outfits and bad ass shades. (It’s a post-apocalyptic world that would make Tim Gunn proud.)
As you probably already know, Hollywood has offered a wide variety of flavors when it comes to Armageddon. Zombies, aliens, robots and natural disasters are always popular choices and they usually make for entertaining films. However, I wouldn’t actually want to experience any of those end of the world scenarios (especially the robot one, which – let’s face it – is pretty much inevitable).
The film’s version of the apocalypse is heavily influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Like The Road, Eli’s landscape is a washed out (possibly post-nuclear) environment where ash rains down from the sky and people must travel down abandoned highways in search of food and supplies. Much like McCarthy’s story, walking down these highways is a harrowing experience where bad guys lurk around every corner, waiting to attack or eat you. But The Book of Eli has one key element that makes it my preferred post-apocalypse – namely, a machete-wielding Denzel Washington.
Like the man and his son in The Road, Denzel’s character Eli is just trying to make his way to the coast. He does his best to avoid bad guys, but when they do surface, he is more than willing to chew bubblegum and kick ass … and with luxury items incredibly hard to come by, Eli is all out of bubblegum. Best of all, since the world ended over 30 years ago and most of the survivors don’t remember anything about life before it all went boom, the bad guys have never heard of samurai films, which means they don’t know better than to circle around their target and attack him one at a time. Even the thugs who have guns aren’t lucky enough to have grown up playing hours of Call of Duty and Gears of War, so they are worse shots than a nearsighted Storm Trooper with Parkinson’s. So while danger is everywhere, you don’t exactly have to be a trained killing machine to survive.
Even if you don’t fancy yourself the type who carries around a saber and smites anyone foolish enough to try to turn you into their own personal Soylent Green (since, let’s face it, we can’t all be as handsome and as awesome as Denzel), you can still cobble together a pretty sweet life. If you are a gorgeous woman looking for a non-taxing job, you can always get a gig pretending to be a damsel in distress in order to lure unsuspecting heroic Denzel types into a trap.
If you aren’t a beautiful woman or if prefer a life off the grid, you can always find a nice house to settle down in, then booby trap the hell out of it to keep away any potential troublemakers. (Oddly enough, this is actually is my goal in life if the world doesn’t go up in smoke, since setting booby traps seems a lot easier than continually shouting, “Get off my lawn!”)
If you don’t mind a morally-ambiguous career path, you can always go work for Carnegie, the villain played by the always-captivating Gary Oldman. Sure, Carnegie is a sociopath, but you could probably get him to entertain you with stories of Christian Bale’s on-set Dark Knight freak outs, which is a good way to pass the time in this TV-less future. But more importantly, Carnegie seems to run his shanty town like Al Swearengen did in Deadwood – regular folks put in an honest day’s work, then they are free to spend their evenings with a seemingly-endless supply of whores and booze.
Plus, you could always spend your time hitting on Mila Kunis, or if you prefer the cougars, Jennifer Beals. The whole “end of the world” thing has severely limited their dating options, plus Beals’ character is blind, so you don’t even have to be good looking to have a shot with her.
Now, I’m not saying that Eli’s world is all sunshine and lollipops, but if all good things truly must come to an end, this is the end I’m rooting for. I’ll take cool shades and Old West-style shanty towns over melting icecaps and brain-eating zombies any day. But since I know the chances of things actually playing out this way are slim to none, let me just be the first to say that I welcome our benevolent robot overlords with open arms.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.