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The Last Man(s) on Earth Review

on Wed, 07/20/2011 - 00:00

In the hands of Hollywood, the end of the world has arrived numerous times and in an uncountable number of ways. On the big screen, for instance, there have been meteors (Armageddon) and comets (Deep Impact) that have pounded the Earth, viruses that eradicated mankind (Twenty-Eight Days Later and Twelve Monkeys) and natural disasters—including earthquakes (Earthquake), volcanoes (Volcano) and tsunamis (The Perfect Storm)—that have laid waste to vast regions. The small screen, meanwhile, has witnessed nuclear attacks (Jericho), alien invasions (Falling Skies) and zombies (The Walking Dead).

With the firm conviction that any one of those events could indeed happen, producer Joe England, director Eric Dove and actors Brady Bluhm and Charan Prabhakar have created a series of online videos outlining how to survive such disasters. Taken together, the subsequent web series The Last Man(s) on Earth serves as both a quick primer as well as humorous take on society’s obsession with world-ending tragedies.

For the two main characters in The Last Man(s) on Earth—Kaduche (Prabhakar) and Wynn (Bluhm)—the end of the world is slated to occur in 2012. While they do not know the exact means of Earth’s extinction, they are nonetheless prepared for any potential possibility. “We’re experts,” Wynn explains in the first episode. “We’ve seen every disaster film at least twice.” Each subsequent installment features Kaduche and Wynn explaining survival tips with both flair and conviction. Fantasy sequences of them dressed as commandos, meanwhile, are intertwined with scenes of them having far less luck completing the task at hand.

In “Accumulating Weapons,” for instance, the duo are initially seen showcasing a collection of bowling pins, weed whackers and rakes. “I feel like I’m planting a garden, not surviving the end of the world,” Kaduche frustratingly tells Wynn. “None of this stuff is dangerous.” He then offers his own version of the episode, and the characters transform from two average-looking individuals sitting on their front porch into bad-ass Rambos with guns, swords, butcher knives and wooden stakes. “Your friends may turn against you,” Kaduche states in a voice-over as he is chased by a zombie Wynn. “Weapons never do.”

According to Brady Bluhm and Charan Prabhakar, the idea for The Last Man(s) on Earth was the melding of two separate sources of inspiration. The first came from director Eric Dove, who witnessed a twister in the California desert. “He wanted to make a web series about two guys that chase dust twisters, and every episode would be that they didn’t find a dust twister because they’re just completely unreliable,” Bluhm explained to Bricks of the Dead in July 2011. Later, producer Joe England stumbled upon the concept that the end of the world would arrive in 2012. “We mashed that together with the lameness of the two guys chasing dust twisters and with how the end of the world would be,” Bluhm continued. “And that kind of brought together that these guys are really lame guys, but they think they’re really cool.”

The coupling of the “lame” with the “cool” can be seen in both the fantasy and reality scenes of The Last Man(s) on Earth. In the fifth episode of the web series, for instance, Kaduche shoots Wynn in order to demonstrate how to survive a gunshot wound. In the “cool” mind of his onscreen persona, Kaduche places Wynn in a bathtub, sedates him with pain killers, places a sock in Wynn’s mouth to mute his screams and removes the bullet with a pair of scissors. In the installment “Fire,” meanwhile, real life Kaduche becomes frustrated when Wynn forgets to douse a pile of wood with gasoline before his partner drops a lit match on it. The frustration grows when it turns out to have been the last match and Kaduche becomes pressed for time. “I need to be home by six,” he tells Wynn. Kaduche eventually attempts to start the fire by rubbing two sticks together, but this proves futile as well. “Even in my fantasy this is impossible,” his alter-ego laments.

The “episode within an episode” structure suits The Last Man(s) on Earth well. While the actual survival video scenes are entertaining and enjoyable in their own right, the “making of” element adds cohesiveness to the series while bringing the characters of Kaduche and Wynn more fully to life. Actors Brady Bluhm and Charan Prabhakar, meanwhile, handle the dual “lame” and “cool” aspect of their onscreen personas with pinpoint precision, and director Eric Dove balances reality and fantasy equally effective, with an overexposed tint to the “fantasy” scenes. The special effects—which include zombie decapitations and exploding vehicles and buildings—complete the cinematographic aspects of the production, while the scripts by writer Aaron Hultgren sustain and balance the action with the comedy, not just within each episode of The Last Man(s) on Earth but over the duration of the web series as a whole.

The destruction of mankind for which Kaduche and Wynn are preparing may or may not occur any time soon, but The Last Man(s) on Earth is an excellent way to pass the time until the end of the world actually arrives nonetheless.

Anthony Letizia (July 20, 2011)

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