Mad Max: Fury Road Review

So this movie was straight up awesome. They basically took everything that was great about the franchise and boiled it down to the raw. The whole movie is just one long badass chase full of explosions and car wrecks and gruesome deaths. Tom Hardy does a great job of portraying the stoic badass Max, who, like in Road Warrior, has barely any actual lines. Which is a good thing I guess, cause Hardy’s Australian accent could probably use some work. And I actually didn’t hate Nicholas Hoult in this. Usually that guy really bugs me, and I’m not quite sure why. He’s just such a slimy little butthole, I wanna punch him. He’s also totally miscast as Beast in X-Men. But I digress. I didn’t think he did a great job in this movie, but his character was interesting and he was good enough that I was able to enjoy the performance. But it’s Charlize Theron who really steals the show. This franchise makes up for its lack of interesting female characters (unless you count Tina Turner, which you shouldn’t) pretty damn well. She’s totally badass and we really become invested in what she’s trying to do. In fact, she almost becomes the main character, with Max just along for the ride. When asked in an interview where this movie takes place in relation to the others on a timeline, director George Miller suggested that Max exist as somewhat of a legend in this world, with all sorts of different stories existing about “the road warrior”, and that this is just another one of those stories. I like that idea, not only because the loose continuity allows for them to make a fourth movie 30 years later with a new actor without having to do a reboot, but because it sort of allows each movie to be its own self contained story. It almost become more of an anthology series, just different tales throughout this apocalyptic wasteland, with this drifter character of Mad Max as the only common element. They imply this even more strongly at the end of the movie, while Charlize Theron’s character is standing victorious and being cheered for while she looks down to see Max simply vanish into the crowd. If they do more of these, which I’m sure they will, I hope they stay consistent with this format. Sometimes an underdeveloped protagonist is better than an overdeveloped one. See: Dredd. Anyway, this is exactly what action movies should be nowadays. I mean you got your dark brooding Nolan movies, and that’s fine, and you got your big fun happy Marvel movies, which I like too, and you even have your big dumb fun stuff like Fast and the Furious, which is hilarious, but nobody is just making awesome badass violent non stop action thrill rides any more. Except George Miller, evidently. Go see this fucking movie.

Overall Rating: A whole vehicle dedicated to one guy with an electric guitar and a flamethrower hooked up to giant amps just playing tunes for your whole post-apocalyptic car gang/10

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Review

So this one is kind of where it all falls apart and just becomes silly. First thing you need to know is that Mel Gibson rocks super long hair for the entire first half of the movie, which is sick. The second thing you need to know is that the villain is aging pop star Tina Turner. There’s also a town that runs on pig shit, a gang of kids who talk in weird future speak, a pilot character played by the same guy who played the pilot character in the second movie but who is definitely a different character, and most importantly a midget who rides around on top of a large mentally retarded man. Yeah, this movie’s whack. Apparently George Miller wrote this script as a completely unrelated apocalypse movie, but then decided, fuck it, I’ll make it a Mad Max sequel. He was also so depressed during filming that he only wanted to direct the action sequences, and got some Australian sop opera director to do everything else. Sounds like a recipe for a really great flick. As troubled as the production sounds, this movie clearly has a much higher budget than the last. They go crazy with the post-apocalyptic sets and clothes and stuff, but most notable is how haam they go on the custom vehicles. In the last couple of movies they all looked like normal cars, with maybe a few modifications here or there, but in this one everybody’s driving some kind of crazy dune buggy looking thing. The one downside of the big budget, though, is that the studio insisted on a PG-13 rating, which I guess meant they had a limit on how many deaths they could show, because literally every time you think Mel Gibson kills somebody they cut away to a shot of them getting up and being ok. Anyway, this definitely isn’t a good movie, but it does have some classic moments. Probably the highlight of the whole thing comes right around the end of the first act, with the battle in the titular Thunderdome. Mel Gibson and a mentally handicapped man bounce around on bungee ropes in a large cage trying to kill each other while the crowd chants “two men enter, one man leaves” over and over again. Awesome.

Overall Rating: Tina Turner’s gross old mom cleavage/10

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Review

Now this is what you think of when you think Mad Max. The original movie actually didn’t originally come out in America, and so the sequel was released in this continent as a standalone movie called The Road Warrior. Most people didn’t ever know there was a Mad Max 1 until years later. Anyway, so this is the one where all the classic stuff you associate with the series comes from. It starts with an explanation of how the government collapsed falling an oil crisis, and now the highways are ruled by waring gangs out for fuel. This one is much more post-apocalyptic than the first one, to the point where they almost feel like completely different worlds. I would complain about the inconsistency, but it makes enough sense that society would continue to break down further the more time passed with no government, and I actually think it reflects the character in an interesting way. In the first movie he’s just trying to be a normal guy, with his wife and kids. He’s trying to remain sane and normal in a crazy world, just like the remnants of society trying to maintain civilization in a world that no longer has any law or order. Then in the second one, after he’s had all that ripped away from him, it’s like he’s stopped pretending and just embraced being as mad as the world around him. And the rest of the world has followed, hence the transition from small towns with some form of law enforcement to a bunch of crazy people wearing animal skins and crazy masks shooting arrows at each other. Another neat little touch is that they actually stay consistent with Max’s injuries from the end of the first movie, giving him a leg brace from where he was shot in the knee and a missing sleeve on his jacket from where it would have been cut off by doctors treating his run-over arm. Not a huge factor in the overall experience, but a nice little detail that makes the world more believable. Anyway, this movie better than the first one. Why? Well, the budget is higher, the stunts are cooler, the environment is crazier, the villain is more intimidating and there’s a small feral child who kills people with a big metal boomerang. So all those reasons. But the real highlight of the movie is the last twenty minutes or so, which is just one long extended chase scene with a whole gang of dudes in cars and on bikes are trying to stop this one huge fuel tanker that Mel Gibson’s driving. It’s some totally brutal, bloody, intense, kickass car action, and at the end of the day that’s really what we’re all here for. 

Overall Rating: Finally a movie that has the balls to kill the dog without spending fifteen fucking minutes trying to make everybody feel sad about it/10

Mad Max Review

So the new Mad Max movie comes out this week and you probably already know how totally fucking awesome it looks from the trailers. And, well, I just wouldn’t feel right going to see it without sitting down and watching the first three movies first. Before now, the only one I’ve really seen is the second one, and it was long enough ago that I don’t really remember it, so more or less I’m going into this whole thing fresh. Now the thing I keep hearing about these movies is that the second one is the only one worth watching, that the original doesn’t hold up. But I had to watch it anyway, because doctors say there’s something severely wrong with me. Anyway, fuck everyone who said this movie is shitty by today’s standards cause I thought it kicked ass. It’s a little slow moving, and there are a few long stretches were stuff keeps almost happening, but then not really. There’s not really much of a plot either, or at least not a very complicated one. But to me this movie feels less like a single story and more of just an introduction to this post apocalyptic future world. And I use the term “post-apocalyptic” very loosely, because it sort of just seems like regular Australia. I mean, there’s no government and the world is full of roving bike gangs, but other than that society seems pretty intact. It’s actually sort of interesting to see a movie apocalypse where people still kind of have there shit together instead of just the usual single pockets of survival type thing, but going back and watching it now it’s not really the world you picture when you think Mad Max. Anyway, where the movie really excels is in all the cool car stunts. If you just want to see a whole bunch of really awesome, well executed car/motorcycle crashes without the use of any CGI, this is the place to do it. Probably the highlight is the opening chase, where all the cop dudes are chasing this guy Night Rider (no relation). It’s just car getting mangled after car getting mangled, and it’s awesome. There are also a whole bunch of motorcycle crashes where you can tell they actually just got dudes to crash their motorcycles and by the look of some of them it’s a miracle no one died during filming. The movie a weird low budget indy Australian movie from the 70s, but it’s probably the best possible version of that, and I was honestly entertained the whole way through. And it’s funny hearing Mel Gibson with his Australian accent, cause he doesn’t really have one anymore.

Overall Rating: Also the final scene of this movie inspired the entire Saw franchise so that’s pretty cool/10

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

So what can I say about Age of Ultron. Well, it’s not as good as the first movie, not by a longshot, but it’s a little tough to figure out why. Maybe it was because of the much more convoluted plot. Maybe it was the awkward pacing. Maybe it was this one’s far lesser ability to juggle all it’s characters than the last one. But at the end of the day it just didn’t feel as special. Somehow when the Avengers leap into a 40 minute long battle with a massive army of easily defeat-able identical looking canon fodder it just isn’t as exciting as it was the first time. Now, it sounds like I’m shitting on this movie kind of a lot, but I actually did like it. Vision was really really cool, I loved the Black Widow/Hulk romance, and I think Hawkeye actually ended up stealing the whole movie. Like I said tho, this movie does not do a great job balancing all it’s characters, and I kind of felt like Captain America and Thor didn’t have a lot to do other than hit stuff. Even Iron Man, who seemingly should be the emotional thrust of the movie having accidentally created the main villain, doesn’t feel like a huge presence during most of the third act. As for the plot, it was pretty goddamn convoluted. I feel like a lot of what held it back is the unnecessary inclusion of the mind gem. Yes, Thanos is out there collecting infinity stones, and I know Marvel likes their super long buildups, but we got so much of that shit in Guardians last year. We all know Infinity War is coming, you don’t have to try to smush all the crazy cosmic shit together what should have been a fairly simple and earthbound story about an evil robot trying to break up the Avengers. It really just makes it confusing for the non-comic readers. Hell, even I found it confusing, and I know all about this shit.

But lets’ talk new characters: first off, Vision. Fucking awesome. ‘Nuff said. As for the twins, I actually really liked Quicksilver. I mean he didn’t steal the show or anything, but he did a great job playing a pissed off young guy, and he had some pretty funny lines. And while it was no Days of Future Past sequence, the super speed effect was actually pretty cool. Scarlet Witch was pretty meh, tho. I mean, as a comic fan it bugs me that instead of giving her reality altering abilities they just made it telekinesis and telepathy, but I get why they did that for the sake of the audience. It’s more so that just doesn’t seem to have any real character of charisma. She’s just sort of moody the whole time. I guess maybe it’s just cause she doesn’t get enough screentime, but hell, who does in this movie. I guess maybe we’ll see a little more of them in six months when they release the extended version (which yes, they are doing, because apparently they cut out almost an hour). Also maybe we can find out what the hell the deal was with that whole Thor subplot that lasted two scenes and made no sense. But what about the man himself. Or, robot, I guess. Fucking James Spader. A big complaint about these Marvel movies, or at least the ones in this universe, has always been the lack of compelling villains. Most of them just sort of go crazy for no reason, usually resulting in them copying the hero’s abilities somehow. Even Loki, charismatic as he is, isn’t really a match for the Avengers. This movie came with the promise that Ultron would finally be an interesting, compelling villain for this super-team to go toe-to-toe with. And, well, they didn’t do a great job. I mean I wanted to get behind the idea that his flawed programming causes him to believe that the only peaceful world is one without humans, but every time he talks he just sounds so full of shit. He’s always going on about evolution and junk, and how people need to evolve to survive, and it’s like dude, you’re trying to wipe out all life on earth, that’s not how evolution works. And he goes out like a bitch near the end, anyway. Overall this movie is still super entertaining. There’s lots of fun Whedon dialogue (some have said too much, but I’m into it), there’s cool comic book action (the Hulkbuster fight is definitely a highlight, although I sort of wish it had held more weight in the actual story), and the way all the characters interact is really great. They really feel like they’ve been a team for a while, and I gotta say every performance is awesome. Btw, shoutout to Linda Cardellini, nice to see ya gettin work, girl. Overall, it kind of just feels like there was too much going on here to get all into one movie, and again, maybe the extended cut will fix that, but watching it today I kind of just wish they had cut back on a few ideas and tried to tell a simpler story. If you’re a massive marvel fan like me I would tell you to see it, although you no doubt already have. However, if you’re an average movie-goer looking for as good a time as you had watching the first Avengers, this isn’t really that.  

Overall Rating: Ultron’s funny little robot eyebrows/10

In Defense Of Ewoks

So I’ve kind of had Star Wars on the brain recently. I guess it started with that Force Awakens trailer a few weeks back, which inspired me to blow about 60 bucks on a new version of the original trilogy. (This one is the ’95 VHS digital remaster, theatrical cut, in widescreen, really the only way to go if you don’t want to watch the Special Editions). Anyway, when I was a kid Return of the Jedi was always my favourite. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that Empire Strikes Back really is the better film, but I’ve never understood the problem a lot of people seem to have with Jedi. It’s almost universally regarded as the worst in the trilogy, and I’ve even heard people say it’s on par with Revenge of the Sith. That’s outrageous. That’s blasphemy. But I’m not hear to talk about why all three prequels are the absolute worst of filmmaking and storytelling ever put on screen. I’m here to figure out why people hate Return of the Jedi so much. And the answer that everyone seems to give is the ewoks.

People really hate these furry little cocksuckers, saying that they’re the beginning of George Lucas’s transformation into a greedy asshole, and that they were only there to sell toys. Well, the real reason the ewoks exist is that originally when Jorge wrote the trilogy, he created the wookies for the role of the ewoks at the end, but then when he decided to only make the first act of his trilogy into a movie, he used a wookie as Han’s co-pilot because he liked the idea so much and wasn’t sure if he would ever make the actual part of the story with the wookies. Then when they finally did make the third movie, they didn’t want to use a creature we had already scene before, so George just, as he put it, “cut the wookies in have, and there you have the ewoks”.

Now regardless of whether or not you think that the climax of the movie would have been better with an army of wookies (spoiler: it definitely would have), I really don’t see any inherent problem with the ewoks. Cause I mean kind of the whole point of Star Wars is like subverting expectations. The idea that you’re not defined by your outside characteristics. A simple farmboy can be a great hero. A funny little green swamp creature can be a wise and noble jedi master. A race of fuzzy cute little bear things can be a mighty warrior force capable of crushing the empire. And I mean really, the ewoks are some of the bravest fighters we see in the whole trilogy. They put there lives on the line, and they kick total ass. We even see them actually die in battle, which is more than a little disturbing if you actually go back and watch that scene. They’re the real heroes of the movie if you think about it, and the fact that they look so innocent makes it all the more unexpected and original. And all people ever seem to say is “uh, it’s dumb that the empire got defeated by a bunch of dumb bears”. I mean, I would by no means call the ewoks my favourite thing in the trilogy, but I think that’s a total bullshit complaint. And btw, as for the argument that they make the the movie too “light, and kid-y”, I’ll remind you that the whole rest of Jedi is pretty fucking dark, you take out the ewoks and that movie would have made people want to slit their wrists.

Anyway, as for Return of the Jedi as a whole, it does have some flaws. I feel like it kind of has no second act. Like you go from the Jabba opening, which is really great, and then you have the whole climax which is sick, but there’s kind of long a period in between where nothing really memorable happens. It could have used maybe one more plot point, right in the middle. I guess that would have made it kind of long, but maybe they could have cut out some of the Endor stuff. I DON’T KNOW, OK, I’m just saying it’s not super well paced. But other than that there are just as many amazing new concepts and super memorable moments as the previous two movies. But for me what more than makes up for its flaws and made it my favourite in the trilogy for so long is all the stuff with the Emperor. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Everything that takes place in the throne room with Luke, Vader, and the Emperor is that best part of the entire trilogy. Better than anything in Star Wars or Empire. That is the definitive highlight of the whole series. And yes, Empire is still better, because it is more consistent. It’s like if they were getting scored at the olympics, and Empire gets 9s across the board, and then Jedi gets like a 4, a 7, and a 10. Empire still wins, but Jedi remains the only one of the two to hit 10. If that makes any sense. Anyway. I’m afraid the deflector shields will be quite operational when your friends arrive.

Furious 7 Review

So the new Fast & Furious movie is out and fucking everybody is talking about it all of the sudden. I mean, two years ago when I did my review of the sixth movie, I couldn’t even get anyone to come see it with me. I guess more people have realized just how goddamn hilarious these movies are. Anyway, this, like any good Fast sequel, is essentially just the last movie but stupider. Except this one has Jason motherfucking Statham, man. He’s so badass. Just bein’ British and hitting people. He even kicks the Rock’s ass in this movie, and it’s definitely one of the better fights. Also Kurt Russell just walks into the middle of this movie out of nowhere, and his character is basically Nick Fury. They also really go hamm with the Roman Peirce one liners in this one, and it really gives Tyrese a chance to constantly make a fool out of himself throughout the movie. There’s also waaayy more lingering ass shots in this one. Sure, that was always a staple of the franchise, but it really gets ridiculous in this movie. I mean, that picture up there pretty much sums it up; butts and cars, that’s what these movies are about. And “bullets”, if you ask Paul Walker’s character. That’s the major bummer of this movie; Paul Walker. His character kind of dips in and out of the movie, and there are several major sequences he seems strangely absent from. Not only does this bring the movie down because his character is so inconsistent, but it reminds you WHY he’s not in those scenes, and that really kills the mood of the funny bad over the top action. Even worse is when at the end, after no foreshadowing whatsoever, Vin Diesel’s character suddenly start saying his goodbyes to him. He goes off on a whole thing about how Brian need to “be with his family now” (hey, I thought you were all family). We then see an obviously CGI Paul Walker deliver a few final lines that are obviously edited together from different audio clips, before they cut to a full blown montage of scene with him from the last six films, before finally ending the movie with “For Paul”. It’s a nice little tribute, but it kind of comes out of nowhere. And yes, I understand that they reason they couldn’t foreshadow his departure very well was that he wasn’t alive to film it, but it’s still a sudden and awkward shift right in the last five minutes. Aside from that, this latest entry might be the worst/most entertaining of the whole franchise, so grab some buds, grab some beers, go laugh at Vin Diesel surviving horrific car wreck after horrific car wreck, and try not to think about the sad irony of Paul Walker’s real life inability to do that exact thing.

Overall Rating: Butts/10