Mad Max: Not just a big dumb action movie

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Mad Max Fury Road poster

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Director: George Miller

I had the privilege of being invited to a pre-screening of this film, and after seeing the trailer online, I jumped at the chance to watch it. I’ll admit, I had not seen the previous films in the iconic franchise, but I still had high hopes for this post-apocalyptic action movie.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a fun adrenaline-filled thrill ride that possesses great cinematic quality. This movie takes its name and protagonist from the original Mad Max movies in the 80’s, but the best thing that it borrowed from those films is the director and his cinematic vision.

We’re introduced to this post-apocalyptic setting when we meet our protagonist Max (Hardy) as a captive in the warlord’s lair. When one of the warlord’s lieutenants (Theron) steals a decked-out tanker truck, Max unwillingly gets dragged into the pursuit, and eventually joins her on her drive to a better life. On their way, they are met with several obstacles, including the warlord’s entire army of pale-skinned kamikaze freaks, the elements of the desert environment, and characters that turn into allies. Also featured are gratuitous explosions, violence, and vehicle destruction.

What makes this movie good, and not just another action flick is the amount of care taken when producing all the imagery. Every shot has a cinematic quality. From the creativeness of the modified vehicles in pursuit, to the color palate used to enhance every shot, to the tiny details in the costumes. Everything pieces together to create a visually stunning work of art.

Mad max 4 Fury Road Screenshot

Given the film’s setting, tone, and character actions, I did expect more out of the story. We do see glimpses from Max’s haunted past, but not much is explained. Same with the other characters that are trying to escape the warlord’s grasp: we see that he’s a villain, and they want to leave, but nothing much more beyond that. Given the apocalyptic setting, I expected a subtle environmental message, but that is glossed over.

Overall, this film is quite exciting, but can definitely leave you with more than you expected. Clearly George Miller’s vision created spectacular imagery in a fun environment. Mad Max: Fury Road certainly one of the most beautiful looking action movies that I’ve had the privilege of seeing.

Trevor Munson is a graduate of University of Colorado – Denver’s film program, and owner of JawDrop Films.

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Max Headroom

I’ve recently finished watching Max Headroom for the first time. No, I never saw it when it was in syndication, I was 1 year old.

I’ll admit, this show is not well-acted and the plots are always really absurd, but somehow I still like it. I guess it’s some of the cyberpunk sci-fi elements that are shown everywhere.

I also think it’s cool that they have predicted a few things that we now use today (The setting was 2005). Such as In-vitro fertilization, using credit primarily instead of cash, censorship and information piracy, and TV addiction. Pretty interesting stuff.

Sadly, the show only has 14 episodes. I just wish that there were more shows out there like it.

The Muppets!

So, I saw a good movie yesterday, nay, a great movie.

So, I’m here in Washington on vacation, and I drag my sister and mom to the theater to watch it. I’ve grown up on the muppets, from Sesame Street, to their decades-old films, to watching The Muppet Christmas Carol last year in school. So, yes, I was excited before I went to the theater, and had high expectations.

But once I saw it, it fufilled all my expectations. The story mirrored what the actor/writer/director Jason Segel went through in getting the muppets back up and running.

And everything what just the way I remember:

The dance numbers

The celebrity guests

The drama between Kermit and everyone (okay, this one’s new. Kermit wasn’t his usual arm-flailing self. He gave up easily and was melancholy for most of the movie.)

The cameos of one-off characters that you would only notice because you watched all the movies.

Everything was pretty much awesome as a whole.

There’s perhaps one more reason that I enjoyed it. Muppets are at the critical point in their nostalgia curve. You hit the peak once the generation that grew up with you is in the 18-25 range, or has young kids that will enjoy them. (Graph to follow) The muppets are at the point that most of us that grew up with them have not seen them for enough time, that any scrap of what comes after is lauded.

In short, good movie, glad that a crucial piece from my childhood is back.

So, what WAS in the box? Review of: Se7en

Se7enSo, I watched Se7en for the first time last week. In short, I did like it, but I’m not sure I know why it’s hailed as a classic.

I’ll admit, the horror genre isn’t really one that I explore very often. I’m not really a fan of scary movies, tons of gore, or jump scenes. So when I watch something that has all three, I tend to step back and not get really into the movie.

However, I let myself get into this one. Mostly because the plot seemed to turn at a few moments, but also because I did get a little lost. I’ll admit, I did not have the patience to pay too close attention. It just seemed to drag on and on. (Sorry David Fincher).

But, when the third act started, when Kevin Spacey turns himself in, then I woke up and realized that everything in the plot did get tied up just perfectly. The antagonist was written perfectly, and had planned everything, even when and where everything happened. Maybe not terribly realistic, but still cool. And I know that it was a traumatic moment, but Brad Pitt’s line, “What’s in the box?” was funny.

Speaking of actors, it was a bit of an experience waching a movie knowing where their careers head. This film ws a vehicle to hoist him to A-list status, yet he still performs amazingly. Morgan Freeman still played the older man type character, but with a blend of a tough cop. I’m not sure anyone else could work it like he could.

Summary: Two great actors, decent story that gets better the more you watch, and I have to watch Fight Club three times as penance for not enjoying this movie to the fullest.

Review 1: Monsters vs Aliens

Wow, just wow. I should have picked somewhere else in the list.

Now, that movie wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good, it was…….predictable. It had the most generic plot ever. Girl gets superpowers, loses her whole livelihood, then makes new weird friends while saving the world and getting used to her new powers. At least vary the plot a little. Don’t make every character have one gag or be a stereotype.

And do not get me started with the 3D. Yes, I saw this today, no it was not on my 52-inch HD 3d equipped TV. I don’t have one. Didn’t mean that the creators weren’t trying to poke me in the eyes with each action scene. This is how you make good 3D: Immerse us in a world where everything looks just as real as if it was here, not by shoving and throwing things at the camera and making bits the key focus point. I life for the day I can watch a 3D animated movie and they don’t clutter it up with gimmicks.

Well, this was supposed to be a review, not a rant. So here it is: While Monsters vs Aliens strove to be a heroic epic between good and evil while remaining funny, it instead became a pandering of actors and stereotypes mixed together. Take one scoop of A-list comedians, add Marvel plots, generic characters, and sprinkle in some bad 3D. Mix unevenly. May leave bad taste in mouth.

 

Next one should be better. I’m thinking 80’s…