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Holy Shit! Mad Max: Fury Road!!

Based on the awesome trailers and the strong early reviews, I had high hopes for Mad Max: Fury Road, but holy cow, I was not expecting the masterpiece I have just beheld.  Fury Road is a triumph, a guts-gripping thrill-ride filled to overflowing with extraordinary visual inventiveness, absolutely bonkers insane action, wonderfully compelling characters with rich emotional arcs, humor and horror and fun all wrapped up together in a breathtaking cinematic package.  I stand amazed.

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This movie really should not exist.  George Miller directed a trilogy of low-budget Mad Max films back in the seventies and eighties, with Mel Gibson in the lead.  I’ve been reading for decades that Mr. Miller wanted to mount a fourth film, but it seemed like his chance had long-since passed.  This franchise felt well and truly done.  The last Mad Max movie was back in 1985.  In the last twenty years, Mr. Miller has only directed four films, one of which was a TV documentary and two of which were the animated Happy Feet and its sequel.  It didn’t seem to me that Mr. Miller had ANY films left in him, and if he did, the chances that they would be any good seemed slim.  And returning to a thirty-year-old franchise?  I can’t think of a single example of that happening and working — the most well-known similar examples of a sequel made after many years had passed all resulted in enormous levels of fan disappointment.  (I’m thinking of the Star Wars prequels, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and The Godfather Part III.)

But my goodness has seventy-year-old George Miller blown the barn doors off of my expectations.  Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most astonishing films I have seen in years.  This is a big-screen film if ever there was one.  Every frame of the film is filled with extraordinary creativity, and this is a movie worth soaking in on the very biggest screen you can possibly see it on.

Fury Road is the fourth Mad Max film, but it completely stands on its own.  Everything you need to know about Max is established in the film’s opening minutes, and all of the other characters and situations in the film are completely original to this film.  (The Mad Max films have always had a very loose sense of continuity — see Bruce Spence appearing as two entirely different characters in The Road Warrior and then Beyond Thunderdome.  And that continues to be the case here, as Max somehow has his iconic car back when the film begins, despite the fact that it was destroyed back in The Road Warrior.)  The film’s opening is clever.  I loved … [continued]

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Looking Back at Mad Max!

I am in almost physical agony that I haven’t yet seen Mad Max: Fury Road.  I cannot believe that George Miller has returned to make another Mad Max film, THIRTY YEARS after the last film.  And what’s more amazing is how spectacular it looks.  I need to see this thing, and I hope to make that happen this week.

But, meanwhile, in the past month I’ve had a great time re-watching George Miller’s first three Mad Max films.  I love them all, even the hugely-flawed Beyond Thunderdome.  These were movies I watched a lot in high school with my friends, and re-watching them now they were definitely tinged with a pleasant nostalgia for me.  But more than that, there’s no question in my mind that Mad Max and The Road Warrior are truly great films, and important ones as well.

I’ll also comment that, re-watching these films for the first time in a while, it was interesting to watch Mel Gibson again.  I try very hard to separate a performer’s artistic work (behind the camera or in front of it) from what he/she might be like in real life, but for the past decade I have had a truly hard time bringing myself to watch Mel Gibson on screen.  I have found his Anti-Semitic outbursts to be so distasteful that they have colored my feelings about him to such a tremendous degree that I’ve found myself almost totally disinterested in watching him on screen any more.  Mel Gibson has made some films that I used to love — not just Mad Max, but also Braveheart and Lethal Weapon and others.  But it has been many years since I have gone back to watch any of them.  I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but that’s just the way it’s been for me.  I simply haven’t had an interest in re-watching any of those films.  So it felt a little odd for me at first, re-watching these three Mad Max films, but for better or for worse I was pleased that I was very quickly able to forget about Mel Gibson the man and just relax into my pure enjoyment of these films.  (It probably helps that Mr. Gibson speaks very little, particularly in the first two films!)

Mad Max (1979) — I know that many people prefer The Road Warrior, but for me, the first Mad Max will always be the best (especially now that American audiences can enjoy it in its original, undubbed version).  George Miller’s film was made for almost no money by a bunch of inexperienced young men, and despite or perhaps because of that the film has a brazen, take-no-prisoners mad-cap ambition that I absolutely … [continued]

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News Around the Net: Comic-Con Edition!

Hi friends!  This past week was the San Diego Comic-Con, and as a result there has been an awesome flood of news about all sorts of geeky things.  Let’s review some of the highlights, shall we?

Here’s the first teaser trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  I don’t love that title (is the second “the” really necessary?) and I think the “The Defining Chapter” tag-line they are going with in this trailer and on the posters is silly, but I dig this trailer.  These Hobbit films have not lived up to the expectations established by the phenomenal Lord of the Rings films, but I have still enjoyed them a lot and I am eager for the third and final film.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron footage that screened sounds cool.  I am intrigued by this glimpse of Ultron Mk. 1.

This is a pretty terrific interview with Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige.  Interesting stuff covered.  Someday the true story of what went down with Ant Man and Edgar Wright is going to be told, and it is going to be fascinating.

This description of footage of Batman v Superman sounds interesting.  Are they really using some of Frank Miller’s  designs from The Dark Knight Returns?  I’d love to see this footage.  DC’s plan of stuffing lots of Justice League characters into this Man of Steel sequel seems worrisome to me, but on the other hand this first image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is pretty great.

People seem to have been bowled over at the footage that screened from Mad Max: Fury Road.  (I can’t believe this movie finally got made and is being released!!!)  I am very, very curious to see what George Miller has crafted after so much time away from this franchise.  This first teaser, made up of some of the footage they showed at Comic-Con, is pretty great:

Here is a teaser trailer for Kevin Smith’s Tusk:

Just what the heck is this film going to be, and could it be any good???  I dunno, I am not hugely optimistic, but I’ll admit I am damn curious and that’s a pretty great trailer…

Ronald D. Moore (one of the best Star Trek writers and creator and show-runner of the modern version of Battlestar Galactica) just did a fantastic Q & A on reddit.  Prepare to loose a large amount of your time reading this.

Dr. Julian Bashir will be appearing on Game of Thrones?  Awesome!!  I grew to love Alexander Siddig’s work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (my favorite of all the Trek series) and I have often felt that he is a great … [continued]