Mad Max Fury Road Yada Yada

Mad Max: Fury Road is currently playing in theaters

Mad Max Fury Road

 

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) РRated R

In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.”

Well I suppose it is time to write about Mad Max: Fury Road. I saw this on opening weekend but put off writing about it because I read two near-perfect reviews of it (one on themarysue, one somewhere else) that already said what I wanted to say. Then all of a sudden it was everywhere that Fury Road was a feminist movie (somewhat ironic when you consider that noted misogynist Mel Gibson was the star of the original series).

I really enjoyed that Fury Road used one of my favorite plot devices, a story where the protagonist is not the hero. Here he isn’t even the main character. My other favorite plot device is the unreliable narrator but I digress. Max (Tom Hardy) has very little dialogue and most of that is used up in an initial voiceover to set our stage.

Fury Road goes quite a bit further than the Bechdel test. The women have almost all of the dialogue in the movie and the majority of the time they are speaking to each other. Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is our actual hero though the women she is escorting to safety and freedom are heroes as well, with wonderful individual personalities.

The wives of Immortan Joe, our main villain, are all clearly victims of sexual abuse and slavery yet there are no rape or sexual assault scenes in the movie. This movie is how you handle this topic if it needs to be handled – I’m looking at you Game of Thrones. Immortan Joe is actually played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the villainous Toecutter in the original Mad Max.

The stunts are jaw-dropping. I came out of the movie wondering how many people died making it. I then realized that I didn’t actually want that question answered. There is still quite a bit of supplemental CGI, especially the incredible sandstorm sequence, but the CGI supports the action and doesn’t detract from it.

I also appreciate that creator/writer/director George Miller did not compromise his vision. In a vast sea of carefully neutered PG-13 movies, Fury Road’s R-rating is a welcome sight. Yes, he probably could have trimmed each individual scene of violence down enough to get the coveted PG-13 rating but the vision of the film came before the compromise of the rating.

Fury Road does feature Miller’s fascination with grotesqueries so that may be a bit offputting for some. The prevalent violence and R-rating will deter others. The plot is also very simplistic, just a thin tissue to keep our characters on the move.

Fury Road is a very violent, feminist action movie where the chase scene lasts the entire two hours and I find nothing wrong with that.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Well, we were at Wal-Mart again the other day. I saw a new multi-pack display that made me laugh.

Wayne Bullock

 

First they had a nice five movie collection for John Wayne and Sandra Bullock (above)

Gibson Murphy

 

Next to it was a five film collection for Eddie Murphy and one for “Antiheroes”. Apparently Mel Gibson is now persona non grata enough to be removed from the title. I wholeheartedly support actual consequences for bad behavior and this certainly gave me a good laugh at Gibson’s expense.

Mind you, the fact police will have some words over this. Payback absolutely features an antihero. The Road Warrior is also pretty much an antihero movie. Conspiracy Theory features a protagonist who is insane but not an antihero. Edge of Darkness features a grieving father searching for justice. Finally, We Were Soldiers is a fairly standard war picture. So honestly only 40% of the collection is about antiheroes.

Happy Easter! Passion of the Christ and Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!

Well just in time for the Easter holiday, Mel Gibson’s magnum opus The Passion of the Christ is available on instant Netflix.

The Passion of the Christ (2004) – Rated R

“Oscar-winning actor-director Mel Gibson helms this controversial epic that focuses on the last 12 hours of Jesus’s life — from the betrayal, trial and death of Jesus to his brutal crucifixion and resurrection from the tomb. Starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Maia Morgenstern as Jesus’s mother and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene, The Passion is spoken entirely in Latin and Aramaic, and the violent Crucifixion scenes are incredibly graphic.”

They said Mel Gibson was crazy to make this – well he showed them! Oh wait I forgot that he actually is crazy but this is certainly a powerful and quite graphic film. Jim Caviezel gives a very impressive performance as Jesus.

Definitely not for the kiddies. So for the kiddies:

Veggie Tales: Twas the Night Before Easter (2010) – Not rated but I’m betting pretty darn safe.

“Do-gooder Marlee Meade wants to present an Easter play stocked with Crisper County’s finest thespians and a 20-foot bunny, but in this tale of backstage intrigue, Marlee plans to steal a star from another engagement and cast her in her own pageant.”

And for those of you irreverent readers, there is also:

Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006) – Not rated

“A single mother leaves her special-needs son in the care of her boyfriend and his friend, who cruelly abuse the little boy. But a killer dressed as the Easter Bunny sets out to avenge their demented crimes.”

I haven’t seen this but find the title intriguing. On the other hand I thought the title of Thankskilling was intriguing and that was truly awful.

Lethal Weapon 4 – The Expendables week

In tribute to the incredible cast Sylvester Stallone has lined up for his latest film, this is The Expendables week. Today our expendable is Jet Li. Lethal Weapon 4 is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) – Rated R for violence and language.

“In the combustible action franchises final installment, maverick detectives Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) square off against Asian mobster Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li), who is up to his neck in slave trading and counterfeit currency. With help from gumshoe Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) and smart-aleck rookie cop Lee Butters (Chris Rock), Riggs and Murtaugh aim to take down Ku and his gang. Rene Russo also stars.”

“In Hong Kong, you would already be dead.”

Having directed the first three Lethal Weapons, Richard Donner can just sleepwalk through directing this one. He does not sleepwalk here but neither is his direction inspired. He appears to have pulled out the Lethal Weapon playbook.

*Explosive beginning sequence having nothing to do with the rest of movie – CHECK.

* Destruction of property owned by Murtaugh – CHECK.

* Shootout highlighting what an incredible shot Riggs is – CHECK.

* Mel Gibson being playful – CHECK.

* Danny Glover getting irritated with Mel – CHECK.

* Ignoring anything that would even remotely seem like actual police work – CHECK.

* Joe Pesci ranting hysterically and profanely about something – CHECK.

* Chase sequence involving non-traditional chase vehicle – CHECK.

* Danny Glover feeling old – CHECK (Mel too in this one).

* Family and/or home of officers attacked – CHECK.

* Mel sporting a mullet – OOPS – For some reason Mel abandoned his mullet from the first three Lethal Weapons.

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson have a well-established camaraderie and they appear to be having a lot of fun in this fourth film in the Lethal Weapon franchise.

They give Joe Pesci a counterpart in this one as well. Comedian Chris Rock plays a young energetic, sarcastic police officer.

As with Demolition Man, the villain role was offered to Jackie Chan. Chan turned it down again since he does not play villains. After much success in Asia, Jet Li wanted to make some American films and this is widely considered to be the price he had to pay.

Jet Li is not given much to do here. The focus, as with the three previous Lethal Weapon films, is squarely on Riggs and Murtaugh and their families. Li also does not speak much English here but his presence is magnetic and he seems to personify cool.

Again as with Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man, Jet Li had to slow down his martial arts moves here because they were faster than the shutter speed of the camera.

This film is quite a bit of fun and so I recommend it but do not expect anything groundbreaking (though the Jet Li sequences were amazing at the time). It is mostly a watch, enjoy and forget kind of movie.

For those of you with a set top box, this is broadcast in high definition.

People Watch: Michael Li appears here as waiter/PRC. His few other roles involve playing characters that have job descriptions and numbers (Lobby Guard #2 & Gunman #1). However after Lethal Weapon 4, he went on to an extremely prolific career as a stuntman/co-ordinator. He was involved in the stunts of 24 (now available on instant Netflix), Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3, Hancock, Heroes, and a ton of others.

Not Quite Hollywood – Ozploitation week

This week is dedicated to our filmmakers down under. Not Quite Hollywood – a documentary about Ozploitation is currently available on instant Netflix.

Not Quite Hollywood

WATCH: Not Quite Hollywood (2008) – Rated R for for graphic nudity, sexuality, violence and gore, some language and drug use

“Explore the unofficial history of Australian cult film with this provocative documentary on the “Ozploitation” flicks of the 1970s and ’80s. Filmmaker Mark Hartley explores the violence, sex and nudity rampant during this period of lax restrictions. Jam-packed with film clips, poster art and international advertisements, the film also features anecdotes from numerous celebrities about this dynamic period in Australian cinema.”

Watching this film is actually what inspired me to do Ozploitation week. This is a very fun, fast-paced chronicling of Australian genre films. There are a ton of movie clips and plenty of interviews with the applicable stars, directors and film critics as well as special guest Quentin Tarantino. There is also a lot of nudity, sex, violence, and language as befits an examination of exploitation films. By a lot of nudity I mean a LOT of nudity. I lost track of the number of nude women 10 minutes into the film and quite a lot of the nudity is full frontal, both male and female.

The first portion of the documentary is called “Ockers, Knockers, Pubes & Tubes” and covers the gross out and sex comedies. These sprang up as the censorship rules were lifted when Australia’s R-rating was established. Under the R-rating, no one from 2-18 was to be admitted. For those interested, this is where the majority of the nudity is presented.

“Comatose Killers and Outback Chillers” covers the quickly burgeoning horror genre. Horror typically costs very little to make and generally ranges from profitable to extremely profitable. It is why so many independent directors start in this genre. They even mention later in Not Quite Hollywood “…but splatter is cheap”. The new Australian R rating allowed for some over-the-top horror movies, many of which are featured here.

The third part, “High Octane Disasters and Kung Fu Masters”, covers a variety of action genres from kung fu to the post-apocalyptic.¬† There is a mini-focus on stuntman extraordinaire Grant Page. During the 70s there weren’t many (any?) safety restrictions on what you could do on a stunt. Some of the stunts in this third part are absolutely amazing – back before special effects took over. There are numerous car and motorcycle crashes as well as many scenes of people really being set on fire.

They also cover Australia’s biggest crossover hit, Mad Max in this section. Besides putting Mel Gibson on the map, Mad Max was the first (only?) of the Ozploitation movies to cross over to mainstream cinema. They don’t mention the sequels which is just as well as they definitely aren’t as edgy as the original.

Overall the documentary has an excellent fast-paced flow and a good balance between interviews and clips. I highly recommend it for genre fans. I especially liked how they played even more interviews as they rolled the credits. The only drawback was that there was a little too much of uber-fanboy Quentin Tarantino

Netflix has enough of these Ozploitation films available for instant play that I’ve devoted this whole week to them (although I’ll try to spare my wife from having to watch them).

People watch: While the whole film is nothing but people watching look for scream queen Jaime Lee Curtis in a brief interview and a scene from Road Games and a very young Nicole Kidman (not interviewed) in BMX Bandits.