The Quiet Earth
Director: Geoff Murphy
Stars: Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge, Pete Smith
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
I first saw this movie as a kid as it was a mainstay on HBO back in the day. I remember liking it but then as the years past I sort of forgot about it. Three cheers, then, to Umbrella Entertainment for releasing this on a new, great-looking Blu-ray. And four cheers for the Australian company making the disc region-free. But was the effort worth it? Does this mind-bendy sci-fi thriller still hold up 33 years after its release? Let’s find out.
A man named Zac wakes up one day and finds out he’s all alone on Earth. Everyone else is gone, not dead, just…gone. Luckily he’s a scientist who just so happened to be working on some super-secret governmental research project cryptically called The Arrowhead Project…no, wait, that’s another story. His project is Operation Flashlight. So you get the usual man alone in the city going nuts bit, but I love that stuff. Whether it’s the criminally overlooked Night of the Comment, the beginning of 28 Days Later, or the first half (the good half) of I am Legend, I love the empty-world type of apocalypse story and this is one of the best of those. Watching Zac try to figure out his dilemma and then succumbing to the madness that total isolation brings is both sad and hilarious. Sometimes he puts the barrel of a gun into his mouth and desperately tries to come up with a good reason not to pull the trigger, and sometimes he sets up a bunch of cardboard standees of famous people, puts on his fanciest dress, and goes out on the balcony and declares himself god. Actor Bruno Lawrence does a good job carrying the vast majority of this movie on his shoulders as a one-man show, but after a bit he does find some other survivors of whatever happened. Naturally that’s when things get complicated.
The acting by all involved is good across the board, the mystery as to what caused the mass disappearance compelling to the last, and the direction by Geoff Murphy is more than competent and at times really imparts a feeling of loneliness and solitude. The special effects, what little there are, are charming in their mid-80s-ness, and there is even some action and a big-ass explosion. What fun.
On to the extras and goodies Umbrella Entertainment gave us on this new Blu-ray release. There is an audio commentary track with writer and producer Sam Pillsbury. There is an original theatrical trailer which is amazingly awful as it gives the whole movie away, and then there is a trailer for the HD restoration which is the same bad trailer, only looking much better. And that’s it. So this release isn’t overloaded, but the commentary track was a nice touch.
The Quiet Earth is a great sci-fi thriller that’s a lot of fun. It’s a basic man alone story with some trippy science bits, but that’s A-Okay by me. I am glad this far-too-hidden gem has been unearthed by the fine folks at Umbrella. Consider this one recommended.