Friday, May 15, 2015

Summer Cinema: Mad Max Fury Road

It's a full weekend of movies as last night was Mad Max: Fury Road, tonight is Pitch Perfect 2 and Saturday is Quentin Tarantino's print of The Great Escape along with a program of Steve McQueen trailers. The summer kicked off okay with Avengers: Age of Ultron but Mad Max did not disappoint. I do my best not to consume any interviews or pay any attention to critical or viewer opinion before a movie I want to see but it was all good things preceding Max on the ol' internets. We checked out the new Cinemark in Playa Vista for the second time and had a drink at their Reserve Bar upstairs. Drinks were surprisingly affordable and tasty while their food menu runs the gastronomic gauntlet of sliders, burgers, flatbreads, edamame and more along with vegan options to go with the popcorn. It's not very crowded yet as the rest of the mall isn't open so take advantage now while parking is still free and the hordes from Whole Foods won't be in your way.

Mad Max: Fury Road takes us to a world of sand, fire and blood. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy taking over for Mel Gibson) and his Interceptor are on the run from the scarred and albino (?) Immortan Joe's (Hugh Keays-Bryne) scavengers. Out in the desert, Joe and his deformed family (inbreeding and nuclear fallout?) own the local population by controlling water and food supplies. He's got a bunch of pristine wives locked in a vault who are hijacked by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as they head for the "Green Place" across the sea of sand to keep their children from becoming warlords. Max escapes his Warboy captor Nux (Nicholas Hoult) and teams up with Furiosa as they evade Joe and his army of souped up vehicles, drummers and guitar player.

Basically, Mad Max: Fury Road is f@cking crazy. It's in your face and full of "what the hell" and "whoa-ly sh!t" moments. It's rabid and frantic. It's essentially a two hour chase filled with explosions, demolition derby, speeding cars, trucks, big rigs and motorcycles along with lots of bizarre characters. Much of the mayhem and destruction looks real and not like a video game a la every other summer action blockbuster for the most part. Half of the dialog was indecipherable due to masks, accents and whatnot but it's not like you miss much. I'll be surprised to see if people complain the way they did for Interstellar when Michael Caine's dying mumbling wasn't put on full blast even though he wasn't saying anything story important. Big fan of Tom Hardy from Bronson to This Means War to Warrior and Inception. He does a lot of acting with his face and expressions in the film going stoic, angry and funny all with a look. His voice is surprising reminiscent of what he did for Bane in The Dark Knight Rises though and I honestly didn't catch much of an Australian accent, except when he said "tank-a" as tanker. Charlize Theron gets almost equal billing as the near gender neutral Furiosa with a shaved head and grease war paint. The story involves the two of them working, saving and supporting each other in a very well done way. There's even a Predator shake between them at one crucial point.

Some might say the movie isn't about Max but he was always getting saved and playing semi-nice with others in Mad Max, Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome. Here it's a nice balance between the two characters but in the end, it's still Max's story and we'll be following his lonesome trek into the wasteland in future installments I'm sure. He wasn't cameo'ing in his own film like Godzilla was last year in any way. For all the noise, thrills, chills and action, director George Miller and his co-writers Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris do an amazing job of not bludgeoning the audience with whiz-bang or forcing quiet moments in as it all just flows naturally. Music by Junkie XL is pulsing and pounding in that new Hans Zimmer, no theme, ambient kind of way and works very well. If anything I could have used some more Interceptor as it's such a part of the world yet it's never really shown off. Fury Road is a fun and ridiculous time at the movies that would be best experienced on a big screen. Here's hoping Mel Gibson shows up in the sequel somehow.

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