Film Review : Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

It’s opening night, so ratings aren’t really needed. The reviews are unbelievably good though

Directed By – George Miller
Starring – Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, JOsh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, John Howard, and Richard Carter

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.

For the first time since The Dark Night, I have dragged myself out to a theater to see a big name film on opening night. I just don’t do it. I like to get to the theater on dead nights and a week or two after the film has come out. It’s just quieter. For some reason I really wanted to see this film as soon as I could due to all the rave reviews I’ve been seeing so far. Rave reviews for an R rated reboot/sequel of a franchise that hasn’t had a film in over 20 years? Yeah, I had to see it. I’m glad I did. It ended up being a fucking blast.

I haven’t seen a Mad Max film since high school. I think a bunch of us sat down and just put them on one after the other and got drunk. That being said, I’m not a huge fan of the universe. The movies were great. Don’t get me wrong. I just wasn’t part of the culture of Mad Max. I was always a Water World type of person.

That’s a joke.

George Miller’s return to non-dancing/talking animals is pretty special. I don’t think I’ve seen a resurrection like this in a long ass time. The film was kick fucking ass. I can’t really call myself a huge action film person. I love story and character development and most of them are missing those two elements. A good handful of films have been able to not only include those two qualities, but also deliver some breathtaking set pieces to go along with it. I’m a fan of the last two Planet of the Apes films. The Batman trilogy was solid. The original Die Hard is one of my favorite films. Besides Batman, I like my action films without superheroes. It’s no surprise that I ended up liking this film so much. As completely batshit insane this movie was, I didn’t really get a sense that none of it could ever happen. The action was somewhat realistic, if we were to ever get as savage as these people that is.

To be honest, I didn’t really understand what the hell was going on for the first ten minutes or so of the film. It was a little jarring to just be shoved into this world of huge lady breast feeding, white zombie looking fellas, and roving marauders with no fear of death. Thankfully this wasn’t a huge deal. I quickly learned that I didn’t need to know anything about this world that they were in. The planet is shit and most people are shit. Here’s a truck with Charlize Theron in it. Go! I was on board.

Speaking of Charlize Theron, this is her movie. I know it is called Mad Max. I know that Tom Hardy was very good in the lead role, but I wasn’t way more drawn to Theron as Furiosa. She’s the one that started this whole movie into overdrive. Hell, without her, Max would still be a hood ornament. The fact that was kicked just as much ass as Max while only having one arm was also a major draw in. I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie that completely focused on her. Theron was that good.

The action was pretty phenomenal. There were some quiet scenes that pushed the story forward a little bit but for the most part the audience is treated to balls to the fucking floor action. Like a nine year old’s Legos box, the vehicles that came from left to right over the course of the movie ranged from terrifying to hilarious. You had spiked cruisers, sand bikes, teeter totter trucks, and my favorite of all, the sound trailer. I wonder how my man got the job on the guitar? Dude has it made. Actually, Miller was able to not only show us an insane character like the guitar marauder, but his inclusion actually helped make the score more intense. I was on the edge of my seat during these car chases.

If you want to have more films like this in theaters, then go see this movie. Huge budget rated R films don’t happen a thousand times a year. Go and see this film to show that there is an audience for these kind of movies. Go see the film because it’s looney-bin crazy too. That’s also a reason to go.

4.5/5





Film Review : I Origins (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 52%
Metacritic Score – 57/100

Directed By – Mike Cahill
Starring – Michael Pitt, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Brit Marling, Steven Yeun, and Archie Panjabi

A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.

The fan made trailer above was include instead of the official trailer because it doesn’t give away the entire film like the official one did. I just wanted to point that out.

Wow. Emotions guys…lots of emotions right now.

You can just sign me up now to watch anything that involves Zal Batmanglij, Mike Cahill, or Brit Marling. Anything. I don’t care what it is. They make films with such an emotional punch to them that it doesn’t matter if there are some glaring scientific plot holes/inconsistencies. I’m not watching a Ted talk. I’m watching a movie. I can be a little hypocritical of this ideal sometimes however, especially when discussing zombie films. I guess what it comes down to is if there is a powerful story going on, I could give two shits if the science adds up. Cahill’s previous film Another Earth falls into this category. The likelihood of an identical Earth appearing in our solar system seems improbable but the story of Brit Marling’s character makes that film special.

This is why I loved I Origins.

Michael Pitt plays a scientist trying to create a human eye from scratch to prove that intelligent design is false. Brit Marling plays his lab partner. Honestly, this really doesn’t matter until the second half of the film, and I’m not going to spoil anything by describing why. The first half of this film is where the money is at. It’s what sets up the emotional gut punch that is delivered at the end. Pitt falls in love with Sofia, heartbreakingly played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. Their relationship and where it takes them was masterfully written by Cahill. I cared for these characters. I cared for them a lot. Sofia is this free spirit who may not fall into one religion, but believes in the spirit and soul of human beings. She is the perfect contrast to the scientific ideals of Pitt’s character Ian. Cahill tells their story with passion and great attention to little details in relationships. It also helps that both Pitt and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey had wonderful chemistry and impressed me with their acting.

The second half of the film is more of a mystery that needs to be solved. The premise of the film, that our eyes can be scanned and used almost as fingerprints, doesn’t really get explained too much which is where it probably threw a lot of people off. I didn’t need explanation. It was just enough to get me on board emotionally.

This is why I love films like this. They take a science fiction idea, which more often than not creates a unique environment, and then on comes the feels. Upstream Colour hit me the same way. There will always be room on my film collection for films like this. Like most films I love, I can’t really explain much more than I already have. I Origins is a science fiction film that goes light on the science fiction and really heavy on the ol’ heartstrings. The exploration of humanity and the mysteries that go along with that are what really made me love the film. I highly recommend it.

4.5/5



Quick Reviews! Calvary, Headhunters, Suicide Kings, and Tusk

Yeah, That’s a lot of reviews that didn’t get full write ups. I know. I’ve been busy actually. I’d love to do full write ups on all these films but you know what? That’s not what this site is for. I’m not Roger Ebert. I’m a film hobbyist. The main goal of this blog is to hightlight and expose films that you may not want/have the chance to see. I think these small posts get the job done. Like always, films I see in the theater will be given full reviews. Films I see at home however will not always get a full write up. Honestly, they should. They’re just as important as the theater screenings. Maybe once things settle down I’ll get back down to giving each film my full attention. Not today though. Order up!

Calvary
Directed By – John Michael McDonagh

If any film I’ve seen over the last two weeks deserves its own write up, it’s this one. One problem…I HAVE to see the film again and I already sent it back to Netflix. Brenden Gleeson is a priest who is told by one of his flock during confession that he will be killed in a week, not because he’s an evil man but rather because he is a good man. Right off the bat this is a story I can get into. The fact that it stars one of my favorite actors in Gleeson is only a bonus. I saw The Guard. I liked The Guard. I didn’t love The Guard. I loved this film. It hit me emotionally towards the end of the film like nothing I’ve seen in a few months. The film has a group of great character actors in their natural state hamming up a few scenes here and there. Chris O’Dowd is particularly good in this. The scenery is beautiful and once again, Gleeson is magnificent. Only goes to prove that the McDonagh brothers are some of the best writers working today. I wish they would team up and make a film like the Coen brothers do. They could change film.

5/5

Headhunters
Directed By – Morten Tyldum

I had no idea who Morten Tyldum was when he was nominated for Best Director at this years Oscars. When I looked up his previous work I realized he directed this film, which had been sitting in my Netflix queue for oh, let’s say, four fucking years. That’s what happens when you are continually adding films to a queue. Films get buried. I pulled the trigger last night and was glad I did. The film has holes…HUGE holes…but that doesn’t take away the fact that it was entertaining as hell. There were many “holy shit” moments throughout its entirety. I hated the ending but understood that it was needed to cover up the gigantic plot holes that littered the film. Usually this would turn me off the film but I actually liked it a lot. Hell, any film that has Jamie Lannister kicking ass is good in my book.

3.5/5

Suicide Kings
Directed by – Peter O’Fallon

This one sucked. I’m sorry. I know it’s a cult favorite but I didn’t like the film at all. Actually I take that back. I liked any time Christopher Walken or Dennis Leary was on the screen. Anything other than those two people was atrocious. The plot lingered for what seemed to be forever. The characters were annoying and most couldn’t act. I’m looking at you Henry Thomas. It also has one of the cheesiest love scenes I’ve ever seen…ever. Skip this one unless you like Walken hamming it up or Dennis Leary ad-libbing his entire dialogue.

1.5/5

Tusk
Directed By – Kevin Smith

One of the most ridiculous and bizarre films I’ve ever seen. It surfs on this monumental wave of garbage yet still is one of the more fun times I’ve had at home by myself watching a movie. I had two phone calls during the movie and in both calls I had to stop them and tell them to go watch this movie. The thing that really interests me is reading that the entire plot of teh film was thought up on Kevin Smiths podcast and put to a vote by the listeners. They played audio from it at the end of the film. They literally made a movie from a conversation. That is impressive and awesome. Not to mention the fact that Justin Long and Michael Parks dance this crazy ballet of lunacy during the entire movie. I love Michael Parks. The BEST part though, I mean the absolute best, is Guy Lapointe. I won’t say who plays him as it should be a surprise but my god, the guy needs his own film. WATCH THIS MOVIE. IT’S SO BAD IT’S AWESOME.

4/5

Film Review : Ex Machina (2015)

IMDB Score – 8.1
Rotten Tomato Score – 90%
Metacritic Score – 78/100

Directed By – Alex Garland
Starring – Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Sonoya Mizuno, and Alicia Vikander

A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

Let me start off by saying that I’m extremely happy for Alex Garland. I’ve been a fan of his since 28 Days Later. His stories, while flawed at times, always strike me as interesting and unique. His novels and short stories such as The Coma have inspired some of my short story writing that I do independent of this website. I’m a fan. I was excited to hear he had directed a film and even more excited that his film is doing so well. It only means we’ll be seeing more of his mind on screen soon enough.

That being said, I loved the film.

There’s something about tiny films that appeal to me. Alien is a much better horror film than it’s sequel Aliens to me. Why? There’s less space to move around. It all takes place on the ship and deals with one alien. It’s more personal…intimate. Aliens is a fine film, but it’s more of a Terminator 2 type of film where they took what was great about the first film and then turned it up to eleven. Ex Machina is an intimate film. It takes place mainly in one location, the multi million dollar estate of Nathan, the CEO of Bluebook. Bluebook is basically the combination of Facebook and Google so right off the bat you know how rich and smart the man is. Caleb is a programmer working for Bluebook and wins a contest sending him to his boss’s home. There we find out that Nathan has built an AI and that Caleb was brought there to test it.

The first scene of the film is brilliant. It doesn’t meander around who Caleb is or what exactly this company does. We learn that later as the film progresses. We’re given a 30 second dialogue free set up and away we go into the world of this house and it’s inhabitants. I just love how that was done. Garland and his DP really took their time with the aesthetics of this house. It’s obviously a very modernized home with the latest and sometimes one of a kind technology. Garland makes sure to hold the camera at precise points to vaguely foreshadow certain plot twists later in the film. I love films that I can watch a second time and catch new things. I haven’t seen it a 2nd time yet, but I’m going to. There are so many points in the beginning of the film that can be recalled later in the film as being significant. I think that may be the best highlight of the entire film for me. It’s just so tight and clean, just like every inch of Nathan’s house. The dialogue between all three inhabitants is sharp, often funny, and always engrossing. Once Caleb finds out why he is there, the real show begins.

Alicia Vikander.

Yeah, I wasn’t aware she was a thing either. That’s changed. She was fantastic in this. It should be taken with a grain of salt however because her performance isn’t something flashy or grandiose. This is a small and quite performance. Most of the time we see her as Ava, we see her bare robotic body with just the front half of her face. Vikander was tasked with portraying the emotion and thought processes of a robot using only her facial expressions. This is why I find her performance so good. She was able to draw me in so well and actually believe that she was an AI with her own conscious and intelligence. Her sessions with Gleason were engrossing to watch.

Has Oscar Isaac just become my favorite actor? That’s hard to say, but he’s certainly in the discussion now. I think I can safely say that both he and Michael Fassbender are the future of male actors. They have not been in a bad film, not delivered a bad performance, and have pretty much been getting better with each role. He’s able to portray Nathan as somebody who you seem to like judging by the way he talks to Caleb, but somebody who you just don’t seem to trust. He reminds me of Jack Torrance before he went crazy in The Shining. Even in the beginning of the film you can tell something is off. Something just isn’t right about him. His drunk scenes were the best and may have been in the greatest dance scene I’ve seen in a long time. His co-star Domhnall Gleeson is solid but really takes a back seat to Vikander and Isaac here. I feel her started to skip towards the end of the film. It may have to do with the circumstances his character got into, but I just wasn’t with him towards the end.

That’s the gist of the film. What I haven’t talked about, and will dance lightly around, is the way the story progresses. There are scenes in with I was on the edge of my seat, not from excitement, but from pure envelopment of the story. It lured me in. It had my full focus. I didn’t check my phone to see what time it was. I didn’t wonder what I was going to do after the show. I was just fully enveloped in this tightly written sci-fi. There is a lot to discuss at the end of the film. Who was the villain here? Did so an so deserve what happened to them? I’m still not entirely sure who’s side I’m on. That’s what a great screenplay does for me. Makes me question myself.

It’s my film of the year so far. It provoked a lot of interesting theories as far as creation goes. It made me more afraid of the future than I already am. It provides two incredible performances from Vikander and Isaac and needs to be seen for the dance scene alone. I’m glad it came out when it did because it’s going to be buried by Avengers, but if you’re trying to see a film and want to duck around the Marvel crowds, this is your film. It’s one of the better sci-fi films to come out in some time and is a wonderful sign that Alex Garland will be making thought provoking films for a long time.

4.5/5




What I’ve Been Watching

It’s bee a while since my last review. I honestly haven’t seen anything in a theater since It Follows, reasons being that I haven’t found a single thing worth paying money near me. I’m patiently waiting for Ex Machina to come out. In the mean time, I’ll try to keep this thing fresh by writing a bit on what I’ve been watching over the last three weeks. Full reviews will start coming soon.

Tracks
Directed By John Curran

Tells the story of Robyn Davidson, a woman who walks across the Australian desert with her four camels and dog. Really atmospheric. For a movie about walking, the film was able to keep my attention for the entire run length. This can attributed to both the wonderful cinematography and the powerful performance by Mia Wasikowska. I’ve enjoyed her in pretty much everything she’s ever done and films like this only go to prove she’s one of the best young actresses working today. The film was heartbreaking as well as inspiring. It’s on Netflix and well worth it.

Noah
Directed By Darren Aronofsky

I’m not really sure why I didn’t watch this in theaters. I’ve never really been attracted to biblical films, but I’ve enjoyed Aronofsky’s last two films in Black Swan and The Wrestler. I guess the world’s oldest disaster story gave off a lot of “2012” vibes, so I decided to skip it until it released on some sort of streaming service. Netflix has answered that call. The film ended up being pretty entertaining. Sure the plot and themes were heavy handed and clumsily communicated. Sure it managed to piss everybody off. It also utilized some pretty awesome special effects and was able to draw out some great performances from Crowe, Connolly, and Watson. Most of the film was shot with CGI, which is something that I can only fully enjoy every once in a while, I enjoyed it. It’s worth the watch.

Rosewater
Directed By Jon Stewart

I’ve always been a Daily Show/Jon Stewart fan. His first film behind the camera ended up being pretty forgettable. I didn’t understand why they used Gael Garcia Bernal to play an Iranian reporter. I felt they could have been a lot more realistic with the portrayal of what was going on in Iran during the time of the elections. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t wow me at all. If you have the chance, check out the documentary Burma VJ for a real look at what documenting a tyrannical regime is really like. I did however enjoy the Fort Lee joke. Although, since I’ve lived here, I have not once seen these pleasure palaces.

Game of Thrones Season 5

Two episodes in, nobody has died yet. I don’t know if that is awesome or bad. Is that weird? I don’t want anybody to die, but I also love the fact that the show does what it pleases. We’re seeing a lot of different things with Tyrion in hiding, Jon Snow becoming more of a leader, and Dany losing hold of her power. Everything seems to be setting up for a serious season of shock and awe. I love this show.

House of Cards Season 1

What can I say? I’m late to the party. I just finished season one and I’m kicking myself for not jumping on this show earlier. Yes, I know Kevin Spacey is great in this. That’s not why I love the show. The secondary characters are all fantastic. The way these characters along with the entire show is written, gives me hope for Netflix Original content. Orange is the New Black and Bloodlines are also quality television, but this show may be the patriarch. Can’t wait to start the next season.