As if I needed a reminder that I am growing older than the target audience for TV and movies, I was surprised by the news that many film reviewers picked Mad Max, Fury Road as the number one film of 2015.
That character Lane mentions, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), is probably the only actor I noticed acting. For the most part the actors of Mad Max, Fury Road, are hidden behind makeup or masks, have sparse dialogue, and their characters are under extreme stress while in fast-moving vehicles, surrounded by explosions and gunfire. No time for chit-chat. Max, played by Tom Hardy, and Charlize Theron playing Furiosa, both of whom I think are fine actors, have basically one expression they wear throughout the movie. Like the characters Keanu Reeves usually plays, their parts don’t require any emotional depth. Fury Road is a dash for survival, so there are no grins or quick quips while facing imminent doom.
And that dash for survival is the second thing that keyed me to Mad Max, Fury Road being a remake of The Road Warrior, starring Mel Gibson. My first tip-off was in the current movie’s opening sequence, where Max grabs a two-headed lizard and jams it into his mouth, chewing it up. It amps up the ewww and yuck factor of the Road Warrior. There is a similar sequence at the Road Warrior’s beginning where Max is eating out of a dog food can. The chase scenes in both are similar, although the bits of action business that are done in the new version are different. The chase scenes are sped up to what looks like about twice the speed the vehicles were actually going. There is a lot of jumping from vehicle to vehicle. That was true in Road Warrior, also. Director George Miller read my mind, that people are getting tired of CG effects, and went when he could with all stuntmen and live action stunts. I can appreciate that, at least.
There are some other things I like about the movie. The cinematography is excellent. I like the theme of empowered women. But when you boil down what is seen on screen you have a chase movie, where the main characters go from point A to point B while being chased, then decide to go from point B back to point A, still being chased.
If you put your brain in neutral, it is easier to accept the post-apocalyptic absurdities played out in over-muscled vehicles by over-muscled people. It is an enjoyable movie, but top movie of 2015? I don’t have a vote for best movie, but if I did this would not be at the top of the list.
I also ask myself, what would Pauline Kael think of this movie?
Once again it is a combination of factors, including my age, but first and foremost I think the movie was seriously over-hyped, as Star Wars chapters tend to be. If the movie could not be brilliant, at least the marketing was top notch. They put the toys out well ahead of Christmas, and then opened the movie on Christmas day. The holiday was blurred with the movie. My feelings about the movie blend into how I feel about Christmas, that it is a big build-up for a small payoff.
Not for the Disney company, though, which probably made hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing and royalties before anyone paid to see the actual movie in a theater. By then, if the audience was disappointed, it would be too late.
Like Mad Max, Fury Road, the new Star Wars is a re-hash, even a remake of earlier movies. The one scene I can remember is the one where Han Solo confronts his son, and it is a flipped around version of Darth Vader and his “Luke, I am your father” showdown.
When I wrote a post about the early hype for the movie, “Built-in disappointment with the next Star Wars” in May, 2015, I said I would skip the movie until it came on cable. Well, I obviously chose to see it, anyway. I am not sorry I did, because it keeps me from watching it when it eventually comes to cable. And I definitely will not bother with any subsequent movies.
As The Who would say, “Won’t get fooled again.”