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"After Armageddon" is a docudrama about a typical, modern family in L.A. trying to survive the aftermath of a flu pandemic that kills about half the people in North America, triggering a societal meltdown. It runs 100 minutes, and is structured as about 75% drama and 25% interviews with various experts on the threats the family are facing. The most notable of these experts is Prof. Joseph A. Tainter, author of "The Collapse of Complex Societies", a widely-respected study of social breakdowns in history.
The main characters of AA are classic sheeple: Dorky paramedic Chris Johnson, his real-estate agent wife Ellen, and their whiny brat son. Chris is a good man who really steps up under stress, but he's a very conservative thinker who is clueless about the catastrophe overtaking his world. Ellen is a little faster on the uptake, but she's also emotionally unstable. Under stress, she's prone to hysteria and depression. Their son starts out as a bit of a brat and just gets whinier as things get worse. All of this would be disastrous for AA's credibility, if it wasn't obvious the characters were deliberately written as people totally unprepared, mentally and emotionally, for what is about to happen.
An example of this is the Johnson's experience with firearms during the course of the story. Like 30-40% of American households, the Johnsons own no weapons whatsoever. This means that when law and order breaks down, they immediately morph into The Other White Meat. They loot a revolver from the car of a plague victim, but lose it the first time they have to use it. Ellen gets upset after shooting some goblin, drops the gun, and Chris, in his rush to comfort her, FORGETS to pick it up again. Later he yanks a shotgun out of the hands of some kid who's threatening Uberbrat, but he doesn't keep it. The movie never explains why he doesn't keep the shotty, which for me was the one place where the plot went off the rails. Not having a gun to begin with, and then losing their first one, I could believe because it fit the profile of the characters. But to not hold on to the next gun they luck into, like it was life itself, that was simply ridiculous. I mean, nobody could be that clueless....
AA's biggest weakness are the three main actors. Rob Hartz, Katherine Cameron, and whoever plays Uberbrat are the kind of actors you would call competent if you were being generous and mediocre if you weren't. They're simply not strong enough to carry the story by themselves. The guys who play the Trader and the Sheriff are good but they're only on screen for about two minutes each.
In spite of the weak cast, I found AA worth watching. I personally give AA a rating of eight on the IMDb scale. I think anyone who is into survivalism, or simply a fan of the PA genre, will find it worth two hours of their time. The movie is strongly reminiscent of McLachlan's superb, "The Trigger Effect" of 1996. Anybody who loved TTE will definitely like "After Armageddon".
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