Z for Zachariah full movie review - There Are Clear Positives to Z for Zachariah, I Just Wish There Was More Going On
There are many different takes on what will happen when most of humanity has been wiped out.
Be it from a natural disaster, an escalating world war or even an act of God, no matter what has caused it, according to Hollywood people will find a way to make it and instead of finding peace, there will be conflict. Now most post-apocalyptic movies are action oriented but this is where Z for Zachariah is different. This movie is much more philosophical and contemplative and surprisingly is more about a love triangle. This is definitely unique but unfortunately it didn't work for me.
*Minor Spoilers Ahead* Ann (Margot Robbie) is an unlikely survivor of the nuclear apocalypse. But her family farm is protected by mountains and the weather patterns so it becomes a haven where she is able to survive along with her dog. Her family has either died or left to find other survivors. One day a man in a radiation suit with a Geiger counter appears while it she was out hunting. He detects limited radiation, strips off his suit and tries to bathe in a small pond. But the water is full of radiation and he soon becomes sick and Ann must nurse him back to health. We learn his name is John Loomis (Chiewel Ejiofor) and although he has vastly different beliefs than Ann, she welcomes him in and they decide to work together to improve her situation.
The cast for this movie is small. It revolves around 3 people and the third party doesn't show up until the movie is well underway. It's a credit to Chiewel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie and Chris Pine that they are able to carry so much of this movie (the lack of plot progression certainly doesn't help) on their own. Ejiofor has been tearing it up with The Martian and 12 Years A Slave and he shines again, especially since he's saddled with the most unlikable character. I'm a big fan of Robbie and I think it's good that she's tackling smaller projects like this. They really dress her down here but regardless of that she still does a great job as Ann, a person who's genuine in her beliefs and wants to help those regardless of their past. I was pretty surprised by Chris Pine, I haven't seen him outside of blockbuster territory in a while but he's subtle in Zachariah and his acting helps add to the mystery surrounding his character.
You can add Z for Zachariah among the Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies as movies that will make you want to travel to New Zealand. The location and the scenery for this movie are excellent and it help give an oasis like feel to the small sanctuary that Ann has at her disposal. The movie doesn't let you forget it either, there are many wonderful shots scattered throughout and the cinematography is excellent overall.
Where this movie falters is that while it is set in a beautiful place and it has capable actors performing at their best, it couldn't distract me from how slow the pace of this movie is. There's nothing wrong with Zachariah taking a different direction, it deserves points for trying to try something off the beaten path but there just isn't a lot going on and the film drags along at a glacial pace. The relationship between John, Ann and Caleb has interesting points but we can only watch them look at each other longingly or espouse philosophy for so long before you just wish the plot would progress. I'll admit maybe I just didn't have the patience required for this feature but I tried to go along with it but by the emotional climax I was just waiting for it to end.
Now aside from the romantic story, there are a lot of heavy subjects tossed around. The biggest being science vs. religion as Loomis is a scientist and Ann has deeply rooted Christian beliefs. The movie can be pretty coarse at times dealing with the debate and Loomis comes off looking like a disrespectful jerk for questioning and at times joking about Ann's beliefs. It's fine if he doesn't believe in God as well but to treat Ann how he does sometimes after she saves his life, he's pretty arrogant. There's also themes like mercy, infidelity and interpreting God's will tossed about. These are all intriguing things to talk about but coupled with the film's slow pace, the profound dialogue doesn't help things move along any faster.
Z for Zachariah is going to be a divisive film. It will work for some, it won't for others. You can either see this as a different kind of post-apocalyptic movie with good acting and beautiful scenery. On the other hand, I think other people will see this as boring and without the necessary plot to capture their interest. I think if this movie had been a little quicker moving to the climax and without the ambiguous ending I would have like it a lot more. It just wasn't for me in the end.