Movie Review: The Postman

The PostmanSometimes I read an old book and I like it sufficiently to go and find the old movie that was based on it. So it was with The Postman, the 1998 movie with Kevin Costner about an apocalyptic world. I read the novel The Postman, by David Brin, just last week. I had known about the movie. I remember flipping through the channels at times and catching a scene or two. There is a small role played by Tom Petty in this movie that’s actually quite good and a bit more than cameo. I remember seeing that before. Somehow I always thought the movie was not that good, probably because the critics blasted it. Audiences continuously like it better than the critics.

I actually think the movie is better than the award-winning book by David Brin, where I only awarded 2 1/2 stars in my review. It’s a very long movie, with 178 minutes running time, and I am sure they could remove half an hour and still make the point. The movie is based on the book very loosely.

It plays in 2013, 16 years after an all-out nuclear war that ravaged civilization and threw the world and America back into the social and economic environment of the middle ages – where the feudal system was most prominent. Lords ruled over and exploited vassals. There is an evil general named Bethlehem (Will Patton) who represents the dark side. There is an Abby who wants to get pregnant by the postman. There are little hamlets in Oregon that are being exploited by the dark army. But that’s where the similarities end.

The movie The Postman is very much just based on the book The Postman. Each stands alone. To me, the story in the movie is actually portrayed more plausible than the one in the book. The critics talk down the movie mostly because they think the story is outlandish, and it is, yet I challenge them: It’s no more outlandish than the story in The Road, another book and movie pair I have reviewed in this blog [search for The Road to find both].

The acting by the postman (Costner) and his nemesis (Patton) is excellent and it carries the movie through the slow parts quite well.

There is a nice angle to watching a movie that was made some time ago to seem futuristic, when the movie’s first frames start with the subtitle “2013” which was way out in the future from the 1998 perspective. As it is, there are already travel dates on my calendar for 2013 – and the world is not a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Rating: ***

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