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Non-Review Review: Mad Max – Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is a live action cartoon in the best possible sense.

It is a movie that seems like an incredible gamble. Warner Brothers essentially gave director George miller $150m and let him loose in the Namib Desert to make a belated follow-up to his cult Mad Max trilogy. There is precious little sanitation here, no sense of order. It seems like Mad Max: Fury Road was never screened in front of focus groups, as if Miller never really received any studio notes that weren’t ringing endorsements or encouragement. Mad Max: Fury Road would be a strange film under any circumstances, but it’s a particularly strange summer blockbuster.

Just deserts...

Just deserts…

But it works.

Mad Max: Fury Road is gloriously gonzo, an extended two-hour car chase across a desert wasteland where it seems like dialogue is a commodity as scarce as oil or water. The script is surprisingly light on exposition, trusting the audience to pick up everything that it needs from descriptive nouns like “the Bullet Farmer” or “the People Eater.” The film makes no real nods towards conventional popcorn film-making, but is all the more effective for it. It is a movie that is utterly unashamed of its pulpy sensibilities, offering a live action post-apocalyptic Wacky Races.

Front and centre...

Front and centre…

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Non-Review Review: Elysium

Elysium is good old-fashioned high-concept science-fiction. With production design alternately evoking the seventies (the upper class satellite that gives the movie its name) and eighties (the apocalyptic wasteland of future Los Angeles), Elysium feels like a conscious attempt to evoke classic genre films. Blomkamp builds in a healthy amount of social commentary, and there’s something quite satisfying in seeing a large-scale science-fiction film that isn’t afraid of big bold ideas.

However, the execution feels just a little bit muddled. The plotting is a little convoluted, and the third act becomes incredibly messy. The characters inhabiting the world never seem organic, with their motivations and behaviour prone to change rapidly to meet the rapidly-changing demands of a very messy script.

In a bit of a fix...

In a bit of a fix…

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Counting Your Chickens… Green Lighting Sequels Before the Original is Released

I would have thought that the mess that was caused by The Matrix Revolutions and The Matrix Reloaded would have killed the notion of greenlighting several films at once – those two movies, following up to the science-fiction phenomenon which was The Matrix, represented a jumble of ideas from the film makers, without the counterbalance or mass appeal which defined the original. The Wachowski Brothers, allowed free reign, proceeded to produce two extremely dense discourses on abstract philosophy lacking in any real heart and populated with awkwardly assembled set pieces and grand-sounding ideas. I would have assumed that the poor reception and somewhat negative impact the two films have had on their iconic predecessor would have dissuaded studios from allowing such free reign again. However, it seems that the trend might be coming back into vogue – with rumours of a green-lit Green Lantern 2 before the original is released and not one but two Mad Max reimaginings on the way.

Join me, Luke, I have a six picture deal...

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