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Category : Reviews

Annihilation [2018] Review

Annihilation is a rare film, and Alex Garland is a rare writer/director (not forgetting the source material’s author in Annihilation’s case; Jeff VanderMeer). He is the only person I can think of that has captured the sci-fi trends that Hollywood has missed in the last 20 years.

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Blade Runner 2049 [2017] Review

Where to even begin with this. I’m won’t sit on the fence teasing you so that you read the entire post to find out what I though. I’ll put my cards on the table now; I absolutely loved Blade Runner 2049.

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Ghost In The Shell [2017] Review

It’s happened. Hollywood have finally got their hands all over the manga holy grail; Mamoru Oshii’s classic, Ghost In The Shell. It’s actually not that bad…

Ghost In The Shell has always been a loyally protected and somewhat feared property. The original 1995 manga film still resonates with technological themes 22 years later, and it’s almost perfect in the sense that no one knows what else they can creatively add to it. Without this we wouldn’t have had films like The Matrix. However, there’s always a balsy producer in Hollywood whose blind determination cuts through the fandom and spins the wheel of chance.

Rupert Sanders’ direction is flawless on the visual elements of the movie. It really has superb cinematography with inspirations from the original movie, Blade Runner (of course) and interestingly (mentioned by Mark Kermode in his review), The Fifth Element. Ghost In The Shell has a great balance between CGI and practical special effects, and it’s so much more engrossing for the audience when approached in this manner. The pacing and score of the fantastic opening jump scene sets a technologically sinister tone and raises some existential questions of the “cosmetic” cybernetic enhancements freely available in this world. “What effect does it have on the soul?” Unfortunately, we never really examine these themes in any real depth, and this is where I think the 12A (PG13) rating has hindered the real success of the movie. Not the “whitewashing” controversy of casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead role (there wasn’t any other choice in my humble opinion – great choice), as Paramount executives have said on the record. If the movie took a little more inspiration from the morality and satire of Paul Verhoven’s Robocop, then it would have added that much needed layer that the majority of viewers were expecting (i.e. people who know the original).

As mentioned, I think Scarlett Johansson (no stranger to action roles) was perfectly cast as Major. As was Pilou Asbaek as Batou. “Beat” Takeshi Kitano dominated every scene he was in, but I felt he was underused in some way. I’m a big fan of Michael Pitt too after first seeing him in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, but I feel like the gravitas of his character could have been pushed further if it had the 15 (R) rating.

Overall, Ghost In The Shell was an enjoyable movie that scratched the right surfaces, but was too focused on the visual elements to develop the necessary themes further. I think it’s something that will grow on people when viewed in a few years time, but won’t dethrone the manga original for Western audiences.

Hitman – Season 1 [PS4] Review

IO Interactive made a bold move by releasing a AAA title with an ‘episodic’ business model. More so for the fans than the industry, episodic content is something in the eyes of today’s gamers associated with pay-for-play kids games that give parents their much-needed quiet time. It screams ‘find out how to squeeze me dry of as much of my money as possible’. In the UK, economy and exchange rates aside, Sony Europe seem to simply switch out the $US Dollar symbol for £GBP in their online pricing. Downloading a brand new AAA title via PlayStation Plus will set you back £59.99 (not including DLC), when you can pick up the disc copy on the high street or Amazon for £40. Even though the depreciation is heavy if you hold on to the disc for a while, you still have the option to trade it in or sell it on via eBay (or even purchase second hand, cheaper, if you can wait a few months after release). Otherwise it’s just locked on your hard disk, hoarding that much-needed storage space that AAA titles and their various content updates demand.

However, IO Interactive seemed to have struck a balance with the pricing. Hitman: The Full Experience Game Pack cost me £44.99 via PlayStation Plus, which gets you:

– 6 locations (or “episodes”), with heavy replayability values
– 2 shorter bonus episodes
– “The Sarajevo Six” (6 exclusive PlayStation 4 contracts)
– Weekly online contracts (“Elusive Targets”)
– Escalation modes
– Developer and community created contracts
– Various bonus suits and equipment items to unlock

For all of this I haven’t paid a penny more. I could have purchased these individually as and when they were released, for around £8 each. It feels so refreshing to know that the developer isn’t holding anything back because they see an opportunity to cash in on DLC. As the episodes have been released in consecutive months it has given me time to fully explore and appreciate the content. Other games have been somewhat exhausting, but Hitman still feels like a new game to me after purchasing it 12 months ago. Each new episode and elusive contract feels like an event, with the right amount of content for both heavy gamers or casual gamers who perhaps cannot invest a lot of time in it.

Now on to the good stuff; the game itself! The making of documentary sums it up well; it’s the globe-trotting glamour of Hitman 2, the sandbox gameplay from Blood Money and the mechanics from Absolution. IO have attentively studied the feedback from Absolution; which graphically looked stunning, but lacked the glamour, grandiose assassination set ups and level variety due to its North American locale. Hitman brings the tone back to a classical level with its trademark dark tone (people seem to overlook Contracts, which I thought was great). There are tonnes of ways to get your target. You can “go loud” or sneak around in the shadows for the “Silent Assassin” mission rating. The locales have an abundance of screwdrivers, scalpels and hammers to kill or incapacitate an NPC. It feels great to have this freedom from a Hitman game. The locations themselves are beautifully detailed. Whilst I was still familiarising myself with the new direction of Hitman with the opening Paris episode, the next one in Sapienza stole my nostalgic heart. It was like returning to Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on PS2 (the first game that I played in the series).

There is plenty of side content and replayability to keep coming back to. Contracts mode is back from Absolution in an improved manner, along with the ability to create your own and upload to the community server. I must confess that I haven’t explored this feature in great detail yet, so isn’t really accounted for in this review.

It’s not the perfect Hitman game (yet), but the monthly episodic nature of each location puts it within arm’s reach of its Danish developer. It’s a game that can directly evolve based on reviews and community feedback throughout a season, just like an addictive season of your favourite TV show. To gain that extra star for a full house, I only ask IO to bring back the briefcase sniper rifle from Blood Money!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [2016] Review

Amongst Rogue One’s gritty and war-torn tone and visuals, it kept an ecstatic grin across my face for the entire 134 minute run time. There were moments of shock, humour and suspense throughout. Even knowing the story’s outcome before buying my tickets, the was enough going on around this to keep the audience entertained and begging for more. Rogue One may have just become my favourite Star Wars film….

Rogue One plays out like a war film. There’s an evil Empire, a Rebel alliance, battle plans that need to be stolen and a group of soldiers with questionable allegiances thrown together. Gareth Edwards’ and Greig Fraser give the film a gritty look with a worn-out feel to its world; you instantly get a real sense of the decay under the Empire’s rule (needless to say, I thought the LED lighting used in the cinematography was superb!). The world is a far cry from the clean and democratic days of the Republic in Episodes I-III. Everything in Rogue One is consistent with the world of Episode IV: A New Hope, right down to the moustaches and blue milk. The practical effects seem much more convincing in Edwards’ film that J.J. Abrams’ 2015 instalment (Episode VII: The Force Awakens), and that’s probably because Rogue One didn’t need to look bright and sparkly; the masking from the grit and rough edges work in Edwards’ favour.

For me, Rogue One was never predictable (even though the outcome is predetermined, as a prequel film). This was evident right from the start when we were visually tricked in to expecting a Star Destroyer to fly by, only to be a shadow of something else. Last year’s The Force Awakens hit the same notes as A New Hope too much for me. It’s great to attract a new generation of Star Wars fans, but it was disappointing given the excitement around Michael Arndt jumping aboard to write the script. It had heart, of course, but it could’ve broken the mould and taken a lot more risks like Rogue One has. If The Force Awakens was A New Hope; Rogue One is definitely The Empire Strikes Back, timeline aside.

The cast is great and the fresh characters really get you invested in their success. The force is still very much present but it takes a back seat and only really reference by Donnie Yen’s awesome blind IP-Jedi. I don’t think I’ve cared so much for a robot character like K-2SO either. Felicty Jones and Mads Mikkelsen’s storyline is powerful and engrossing too. I was even questioning the allegiance of Mikkelsen’s character throughout the film. Maybe that was one of the great elements in the script; you just don’t quiet know who to trust. It was such a great cast, but one of standout member’s is Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic; literally oozing evil vibes in amonst his endless greed for power. He adds to the sheer menacing power and scale of the Death Star, again something that The Forec Awakens didn’t achieve (the Starkiller Base is borderline forgettable).

There’s a lot of talk surrounding the missing clips from the trailers and re-shoots that took place. [SPOILERS!] There was definitely an alternative ending originally planned, as Jyn Erso didn’t end up running across the beach with the Death Star plans or confront a Tie Fighter on the antenna. I’ve read that originally it might have been more of a heist movie and the final confrontation happening on the beach with Director Krennic. I’ve also read that Disney’s insistence on the re-shoots actually allowed Gareth Edwards to darken the tone even more by killing the characters off at the end, so that it’s consistent with the timeline. Regardless, I was amazed with this cut of the film and loved the small Easter Eggs for long-term fans that weren’t distracting. Vader’s flotation tank, his castle on Mustafar, bumping in to the cantina guys and even the blue milk (I think seeing that at the beginning was the hook that got me). The list is long. Resurrecting Peter Cushing via CGI has polarised people, but it really amazed me. After the film I had to Google a picture from 1977 to show people. There were times when I really couldn’t tell the difference. [END OF SPOILERS]

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a fantastic entry in to the saga, and the quality of filmmaking is up there with The Empire Strikes Back. It allows Disney to break the mould from the main series and really provide something different and adventurous.

Batman v Superman [2016] Review

It’s no secret that I have a bias towards #TeamBatman. As someone said to me after asking my opinion of the film; even if Batman just sat silently on a chair in a room, I would have liked it.

The Good

When Ben Affleck was cast at the caped crusader, for a moment I thought it was an April fools’ joke. After his unfavourable turn in 2003’s ‘Daredevil’ I was surprised to think that he would want to tread in this territory again, and that studios would take the risk to cast him. I had faith though; this Batman would reflect more of Frank Miller’s mature, grizzled and vengeful ‘Dark Knight Returns’ Batman. Affleck has had a dark and angry side to some of his roles; he made the character his own and pushed the envelope further than I expected. Batman was much more demonic than what we’ve seen on film before; hiding in the shadows and aggressively beating criminals to a pulp. There’s clear influences from his fighting style in the Frank Miller comics and the fantastic ‘Arkham’ video game series. Batman stabs, kills and snaps bones; this has polarised the internet, who firmly believe that killing is against Batman’s moral code. As a Batman fan this didn’t offend me; it’s another interpretation of the character, just like how Frank Miller interpreted it, and just like how Tim Burton did too (he changed the suit, changed the origin, and mounted machine gun canons to the front of the Batmobile…). This is a gritty movie and quite a hard action film, certainly setting a different tone to the light-hearted moments of Marvel. Even from the opening origin of Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered, the gunshots from the steely Colt .45 are painful and brutish to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing the action toned up for the R-rated cut that’s rumoured to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray, rather than it just throwing in some extra profanities. Even for a PG-13 the envelope is pushed. Snyder has made a film for the fans and I have to applaud him on pushing this through.

Zack Snyder is a great action director. BvS feels fresh amongst the director’s back catalogue. We’re thrown in to a thrilling opening sequence set amongst the ‘world engine fight’ from ‘Man Of Steel’, and from the lucid white title card we feel how alien the arrival of the man from Krypton is (more so than MoS). The film feels quite kinetic, and Snyder’s visual style is perfect for this, but the trade-off is that it feels like there is just a shoe string of a plot thread. It’s lots of small visual sequences stitched together with some exposition. The visual style is great and cut together quite well with the pulsing soundtrack.

The other part of the holy trinity, Wonder Woman, was probably the best female superhero I’ve seen on screen yet. Gal Gadot was commanding and confident; I thought she was fantastic. Jesse Eisenberg was surprisingly terrifying as Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons was also a great version of Bruce Wayne’s butler/guardian/foster father and Batman’s quartermaster.

There are some really interesting questions for debate raised in the film but they didn’t really get followed up. What should a superhero’s duty be? What effect does a Jesus-like alien from another planet have on the human psyche; a species who believed that they were the only special and self-aware entity in the universe?

The Bad

The lack of a coherent plot thread is the real villain, and you can feel the difficult task that the editor had. There are some moments, such as Bruce Wayne’s Darkseid dream sequence, that even to someone familiar with the universe seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Snyder and the writers seem to have planned the movie (and perhaps filmed it, given the time it has take for it to arrive on our screens) in spread out chunks and encountered problems in the editing room. There’s no doubt that Warner Bros. got it hands involved and forced too much in to the movie in the pressure to build the DC Universe, but after a second viewing I feel that Snyder actually handled it all quite well. There’s a lot crammed in to this movie and it can be quite exhausting once the final credits roll. Jesse Eisenberg was surprisingly terrifying as Lex Luthor, but I never really caught his motivations of setting up the two titular protagonists, other than that he was a bad seed. Plus, we lingered on Granny’s Peach Tea a bit too long…

For all that Zack Snyder is a comic book fan and did a great job bringing ‘Watchmen’ to the screen, I don’t think that he fully understands why we love(d) the character of Superman. I was sold on the angle that was taken with ‘Man Of Steel’ of portraying him as an alien with a constant inner torment of who he should be in life (should he follow the life of his Earth foster dad from Kansas, or the destiny of his biological father from Krypton?). This was a major focus in the teaser trailers that got me really excited, but it was never really developed in the final film. The long and short of it is that Superman is actually quite boring; audiences can no longer relate to him because he’s indestructible unless there’s some handy Kryptonite around. The Christopher Reeve era was no doubt a high point in the character’s screen career, but the character was still fresh back in the 1970s. Snyder was brave to ‘kill off’ Superman at the end of the film but you always know that he’s going to come back. Someone needs to be braver with defining Superman for a 21st century audience and re-writing the rules for his character. He needs to be more vulnerable and shock us. I don’t think that killing Zod had the desired impact the writer’s thought it would. They also need to be realise one of the key reasons why we love Superman; because he can fly. What’s at the top of many childhood superpower wish lists? The audience got to fly with Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh in ‘Superman Returns’, and even Dean Cain in ‘The New Adventures Of Superman’. As much as Henry Cavill embodies the character we’ve yet to join him in the sky as he’s taking ‘faster than a speeding bullet’ a bit too literally. This surprises me given the amount of stylised slo-mo trademarking in the director’s filmography. Just a final dig whilst we’re on Superman; the hammy dialogue of Superman whilst he had Batman’s iron foot on his throat could have been improved just a little bit….(“Martha….Save……Her!”).

We went to Picturehouse Central to see a 35mm screening, but it was blurry and out of focus around the edges of the screen. The Picturehouse manager tried to blame it on the print. I’m aware it’s difficult with digital projectors, but 35mm is a selling point and people pay specifically to see it in this format (in this case, £18 per ticket – ouch). He was on the defensive, but after a little more persistence we managed to get 2 free tickets (beautiful cinema though – great sound system too in screen 1).

Finally, the trailer revealed way too much. Doomsday should have been the film’s ace card.

…..and The Verdict

A superhero action film I was expecting, and a superhero action film is what I got. I knew going in that it wouldn’t be in the same league as the entries of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, but Ben Affleck & Zack Snyder’s iteration of Batman was thrilling and refreshing to watch. Better than ‘Man Of Steel’ but could do with more heart.

 

UPDATE (July 8th 2016): Just watched the 3 hour Ultimate cut. It presented a better moral conflict of Superman, more depth, more mean Batfleck and less confusion! Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Featured image © Warner Bros. and DC.

There Needs To Be More Films Like…Layer Cake [2004]

Firstly…there does NOT need to be more British gangster films. I can’t stress enough that we don’t need to see Cockneys vs. Zombies vs. Werewolves vs. The Further Downfall of British Cinema Because Of Tax Loopholes. 2004’s Layer Cake was somewhat marketed as a natural successor to Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Snatch. But thankfully the final film inside the DVD box positioned itself at a different level.

“I’m not a gangster. I’m a businessman; giving people what they want.” This sums up the tone of the movie and sets it apart from a run-of-the-mill East-end gangster movie. The Duke’s crew are firmly in the Lock, Stock world, but Daniel Craig’s XXXX is a criminal with a 5 year plan. His clients aren’t people in his local neighbourhood looking to shift some gear; he’s after the big financial fish in the City of London. As Jimmy Price points out in the country club, he’s a “posh boy” that uses long words in his vocabulary. When XXXX does have to get his hands dirty with some wet work; his conscience is crippled by the internal torment.

Matthew Vaughn has a keen skill of shooting with the edit in mind. He can shoot with the transitions and soundtrack in mind, and it’s acknowledging this process that gives us the amazing Freddie/The Duke transitional shot, with the surprisingly suiting “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran.

Layer Cake has a cool, hard visual tone that is uplifted by its script and soundtrack. This is a deadly illicit world that the characters are in, and the upbeat moments in its dialogue and performances provide an excellent balance. “The art of good business is being a good middle man.” Taking the film out of the monotonous East End setting and seeing the parallels all the way up the “layer cake” (from The Duke’s laddish street crew to the City’s smoking rooms) make Layer Cake a great entry in British cinema.

SPECTRE [2015] Review

Where next after the $1 billion (£650 million) and most successful 007 outing in the franchise’s 50 year run? The Skyfall team are back, but is Bond back too?

It is a resounding ‘yes’. Bond is back, and in more ways than I expected. As director Sam Mendes has stated in press interviews; this is a different beast to Skyfall entirely. Quite rightly too – why try to bottle lightning twice. The Daniel Craig era stripped the franchise back and has been very cautious in reintroducing the gadgets, quips and glamorous locales that the made the series iconic. I really enjoyed how they presented the car gadgets back to the audience again, but in a flawed way (even the car wasn’t supposed to be for 007!). Answering Ralph Fiennes’ M in the closing scene of Skyfall, 007 is indeed back to work in SPECTRE. This is much more of a ‘fun’ Bond movie and during the film I wasn’t actually sure that I liked it. The cold, washed up and alcohol dependant assassin from Skyfall, to me, makes for a much more intriguing Bond. In SPECTRE Bond is at the top of his game shooting his way out of the villain’s lair unscathed whilst wearing impeccable suits. It was a surprise to watch a fun Bond movie again; I was expecting to be pulled back in to the dark at any minute. Daniel Craig is certainly my favourite Bond (even though I grew up with Pierce) and he plays it with both confidence and a vulnerability from Vesper’s sting in Casino Royale. He’s had a decade’s worth of a gritty 007, and has certainly earned to have some fun with SPECTRE. If it is indeed a swan song; it couldn’t be a better one.

SPECTRE’s action is a highlight compared to the previous outing. Nothing can top Casino Royale’s parkour crane chase, and I thought Skyfall’s opening sequence was always over praised. The opening sequence of SPECTRE is set amongst Mexico’s Day Of The Dead parade and contains a breath-stopping single tracking shot (when a camera physically follows a person or an object with no visible cuts) which is perhaps a first for the franchise and always a personal favourite of mine in any film. It’s a thrilling opener and now one of my favourites. Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is luxuriously grounded, and Lee Smith’s editing is solidly paced too (what else would we expect from Christopher Nolan’s crack team!). The car chase sequence in Rome is operatic and thrilling with the Aston Martin DB10 tearing through the streets. Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx is a sinister brute force and easily my favourite henchman of the series.

There are plot holes and some lazy exposition in SPECTRE. Dr. Madeline Swann falls for Bond at the drop of a hat, and Monica Belucci is disappointingly under used. I feel Christophe Waltz’s Oberhauser/Blofeld really should have escaped at the end to add a sense of peril to the “James Bond will return” closing tag. Instead, the fate of this huge character wasn’t touched upon and Bond drove off happily in to the sunset without a care in the world. The villain’s motivation wasn’t crystal clear and the threat wasn’t really felt; Waltz was another under used talent. Sadly, Sam Smith’s theme is also quite underwhelming.

Overall, SPECTRE felt like an indirect love note to all the classic 007 moments, and was exciting to watch. I thought it was a fantastic instalment, and I’m already trying to plan when I can see it a second time. The team have had fun with this outing of Bond and it is certainly conveyed on screen. I wasn’t expecting a return of so many key elements, but they were a pleasant surprise. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Christopher Nolan to finally take the keys for the next outing!

 

UPDATE: After a second viewing, it was just as enjoyable!

Featured image © Sony Pictures

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation [2015] Review

Cards on the table; I’m a sucker for the Mission: Impossible films, so this may be a biased article. They’re over the top, lavish in the IMF’s seemingly endless budget, but effortlessly cool and fun. They’re heist movies with spies. They never take themselves too seriously but they’re never lazy. Tom Cruise aims for thrills and each instalment is a roller coaster ride, pushing the envelope and adding value every time.

Rogue Nation is so fun and thrilling to watch, it did not disappoint. Tom Cruise seem to have identified that it’s not about better gadgets or grander locations each time; it’s about pushing himself, and it works. M:I had the iconic server room hack, in M:I-2 it was the excellent John Woo motorcycle showdown (and somewhat my favourite, as I was 13 years old in 2000), M:I-3 had him leap from a Shanghai skyscraper, M:I-4 has the terrifying (and series defining) Burj Khalifa acrobatics, and now M:I-5 has Cruise clinging on to the side of plane. Each instalment pushes the envelope for Cruise and the Russian doll gets bigger every time.

Some of the charm was missing in Rogue Nation. More screen time has been allocated to the IMF team and it seems somewhat less about Ethan Hunt. Whether this is an intentional decision to keep any ego-inflation anxieties in check, I’m not sure. I sat there afterwards thinking (to many people’s surprise, I’m sure); needs more Tom Cruise! There’s no doubt that his name can still sell movies alone. However, the laughs seemed throwaway and peppered in to the script and there was some lazy exposition too. Rebecca Ferguson was fantastic as the double-agent Ilsa Faust; she kept the audience guessing of her allegiance at every turn. The opera house assassination scene is a romantic nod to any classic Euro-spy thriller, and it was refreshing to see something different to a rudimentary bomb disposal that we’ve been accustomed to in films post 9/11. It was good to see a film looking inwards at its own world too; in Rogue Nation the IMF is a risk, rather than the world being held to ransom.

Along with a thrilling, frantic and brutal motorcycle chase along a Moroccan highway, I feel that Rogue Nation perfectly balances a classic European assassination thriller with the fun action that viewers expect. The villains still need to have more of an impact though; aside from the first film, we never seem to have their motivations clearly explained. The dialogue and script isn’t perfect  either (to me, the MacGuffin wasn’t compelling enough in building tension) but Christopher McQuarrie has made a great Mission: Impossible film.

Mad Max: Fury Road [2015] Review

Mad Max Fury Road is George Miller’s glorious return to the post-apocalyptic world that we last visited 30 years ago. This time it’s Tom Hardy in the driver’s seat as “Mad” Max Rockatansky, taking over from Mel Gibson who first made the role famous in 1979 and then again in 1981 and 1985. Fury Road is good, and spoilers lay ahead….

Fury Road scratches the itch that myself and I’m sure a lot of other people have had for a long time with action films. It’s bold, beautiful and relentless. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and embraces its own insanity. Where else could you see a someone playing a flame-throwing, axe-wielding guitar harnessed to the front of a motorcade as it charges through the desert? The film is actually beautiful too; gone are the bleached visuals that have over saturated post-apocalyptic films in the last decade, and in are the eye-popping and rich colours of the Australian desert. Even though George Miller shot Fury Road digitally, he’s still traditional in his execution by building real cars and using real stunts whenever possible. As a viewer I am invested so much more in to the world, and even in 3D it pays off. Every car flip, close shave, pistol whip and explosion can be felt without the desensitisation of over the top superhero CGI. It should be used to fill in the gaps around the edges of the frame, CGI should never be the focal point.

If we asked for action, we certainly get it. Fury Road plays out as one continuous chase sequence. As viewers we’re thrown straight into it with little back story for the characters and setting, but it works. Miller’s attention to physical movement and body language (he’s quoted in interviews as taking a lot of inspiration from silent movies) fill in the gaps where unnecessary exposition scenes would normally have to be inserted. It works perfectly in keeping the octane at full throttle for 2 hours. I can’t preach enough how much I love the action. I could almost smell the gasoline that was being spat into the V8 engine intakes whilst clinging to the bonnet at full speed.

Tom Hardy plays Max in his own way; almost struggling to communicate verbally after wandering the wasteland for so long. His grunts and body language convey his tortured past for those who may not have seen the previous films. One theory which I quite like is that he’s actually the feral kid from Mad Max 2, which explains where the music box came from. However, the real show stealer (aside from the vehicles and insane stunts) is Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. With a shaven head reminiscent of Alien heroine Ellen Ripley, Furiosa is fierce and tough as nails driving the War Rig. It’s really her journey that drives the film and Max provides the extra push as a true road warrior. Amongst all of the fan Easter eggs, it was a nice touch to see her at the end of the film with the the eye and arm injuries that echo Max’s in The Road Warrior. Nicholas Hoult is great as Nux, and his character isn’t merely an unjustified supporting role; you genuinely feel happy for him when he flips the War Rig and fulfils his purpose of doing something meaningful as a half-life. Valhalla awaits!

Mad Max Fury Road is an important action film. It’s operatic, stunning to look at and I’m confident it will influence future actions movies to come. Perhaps not in the same way that Batman Begins made filmmakers invest more in realism and character studies, but certainly in terms of production values. Why not 5 stars? I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of the internal conflict and personal development with Max, and one more moment in the V8 Interceptor when he flicks the boost switch. But hey, I’d take another sequel to this any day!

 

Here’s another shout out to THIS guy.

Mad Max_2