Friday, May 22, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

Image result for mad max fury roadThis movie doesn’t need another rave review but I feel obligated to throw in my two cents.  I’ll make this as short and sweet as I can.

First, I really liked Fury Road.  The action is well executed and pretty in-fuckin’-sane, the characters are badass to the bone and the cinematography is beautiful.  But the thing I like the most is the production design.  It’s off the fucking charts.  The vehicles and costumes are outrageous, imaginative and stunning to have your eyes feast on.

But there are a couple of things that nag at me.  To make this easier I’ll go to bullet points.

  • I totally appreciate the simple story of escaping your captor and having the film be essentially one long chase sequence.  In an age where two and half hours is the standard running time for an action film the somewhat more modest two hours is welcomed (I truly believe you can tell most stories in 90 to 120 mins).  Miller avoided unnecessary scenes of clunky exposition and even used as little dialogue as possible to convey what was happening.  All brilliant stuff.  The problem I have is I wish there was a little more setup.  We’re thrown right into the thick of it without getting a chance to fully settle in.  And I’m not talking about a lot of extra setup.  I would make a deal to sacrifice one minute from each of the three big action sequences for a total of three minutes more of setup and insight into our main villain, Joe, at the beginning.  I think just three more minutes with Joe and the Citadel (not even Max or Furiosa) would actually make a difference.

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  • There’s so much badass shit in this that the handful of corny things Miller left in here really stick out.  I never got on board with the relationship that develops between Nux and Capable.  That felt very forced and not necessary particularly since Nux is eventually accepted by Max, Furiosa and the rest of the gang anyway.  The part where Furiosa screams “nooooo!” (even though it’s a silent yell) is too clich├ęd for this movie.  Just dropping to her knees alone would’ve been enough to drive the point home that her heart has been shattered.  You’re gonna have to see the movie to know why she does this, I won’t tell.  *Spoiler on this point* It felt like they wanted to have their cake and eat it too with almost killing off Furiosa.  It looked like they were definitely going to have her die until they changed their minds at the last minute.  All I’m saying is they should’ve given her a less obviously fatal wound.  That way you can still have Max give her medical attention and there isn’t this fake out where you think she’s gone but then you suddenly see her standing triumphantly in the last shot.     

  • This last one is a technical thing but the editing gets kinda messy at times, especially at the end when I had a hard time figuring out who was where and what exactly was happening.  For the most part it’s clear and exciting.  It’s just every so often there’ll be a couple of cuts where I’m lost for a second.
Part of me wants to tell me to shut up and thank my lucky stars that we got such an overall awesome picture.  Action movies on this scale that are made this well and that aren’t based on a comic book don’t get made anymore.  We’re long past that.  But at the same time I feel like if I do that I’m lowering my standards slightly.    

Image result for mad max fury roadLook, Fury Road is an exhilarating experience that I’ll probably only like more as time goes on.  It might even be my favorite Mad Max installment (it’s been a while since I re-upped on The Road Warrior).  It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this holds up a bunch of years from now.  My guess is upon subsequent viewings (which shouldn’t be too far off) those couple of pesky issues I listed above will quickly fade and this review will seem pretty goddamn stupid in retrospect.  That’s what happened with me for Drive (minus the pretty goddamn stupid review part).  In fact it’s been almost a week since I saw the film and I’m already looking back fondly on the many elements that I loved.    

So of course you should see this thing the first chance you get.  Your life will be improved instantly and forever.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bill Paxton Action Connections

Ever since I saw that Bill Paxton has been in an Alien, a Predator and a Terminator (two of which were directed by James Cameron) I realized he has other huge action connections.  He was also in…

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Streets of Fire and Trespass- both directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, The Driver, Last Man Standing)

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Commando, apparently as Intercept Officer- directed by Mark L. Lester (Class of 1984, Showdown in Little Tokyo)

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Near Dark- directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty)

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Tales from the Crypt episode “People Who Live in Brass Hearses”- directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, Ricochet, The Shadow)

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Tombstone- directed by George P Cosmatos (Cobra, Rambo: First Blood Part II)

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Twister- directed by Jan de Bont (Dir: Speed; Cinematographer: Die Hard, Basic Instinct)

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U-571- directed by Johnathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise ofthe Machines, Breakdown)

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Vertical Limit- directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro)

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Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams- directed by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn)
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John Hughes isn't an action director but
goddammit Paxton's worked with
him too (in Weird Science)!

Not that everyone I listed falls into this category but he sure has worked with a lot of action royalty.