Film #150: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

mad-max-fr-trailer-screenshot07Director: George Miller
Language: English and some gibberish I guess
Length: 120 minutes
Watched on: 20 June 2015

I was a little apprehensive about seeing this because I was worried about not having seen the previous films in the series. I was quite glad to discover that seeing them was unnecessary. This was the kind of movie that jumps into extended action sequences without much in the way of exposition. It works very well.

The story of the movie is that of Furiosa, brilliantly played by an unrecognizable Charlize Theron. She liberates the “wives” (that is, sex slaves) of a brutal dictator called Immortan Joe, and they start driving across an endless desert, a postapocalyptic wasteland. Several factions give chase, and the movie becomes basically a long chase sequence. The titular Mad Max gets caught up in the story by accident and joins Furiosa’s band – although it takes time for him to be accepted.

Perhaps coming in with some background knowledge would have been advantageous. Several of the friends, and friends of friends, that I went with had seen the originals, from the 70s and 80s, and had a more enlightened experience than I did – they knew, for instance, that the movie is set in a future Australia. But I’m glad it wasn’t strictly necessary.

I found the movie very intense, to the point where I had trouble following it at times. That said, I found that because there wasn’t a lot of choreographed fighting in the same way as, say, The Matrix, it was also easier to follow in a different way. Similarly, a lot has been made of the fact that the film mostly uses natural effects, with mostly only minor enhancements – it means the film crew were really just driving round Namibia blowing stuff up.

The film is also notable because it bucks a trend in not sexualizing its female protagonist, and together with the theme of female liberation means it has a significant feminist following. For an action film, this is almost unheard of – although because I don’t often watch action films, and I watch a lot of LGBT-themed movies, it took me a while to understand the significance of this.

It’s very quickly developed its following, though, and since the flamboyant side cast lends itself well to costumes, I’m not surprised to have been invited to a Mad Max-themed Hallowe’en party. I just have to somehow get a costume together. Anyone have a saw…?


Film #149: Big Hero 6 (2014)

big-hero-6-10.5_046.00_0107Directors: Don Hall & Chris Williams
Language: English
Length: 102 minutes
Watched on: 12 June 2015

I remember being confused when I first saw the name of this movie, in a kind of embarrassing way that also sounds like a bad pun: I thought I’d missed out on the first five movies in the series. Fortunately, the Japanese name of the movie is the name of the main character, Baymax, so about as often in casual conversation I refer to the movie by that name.

The movie is about a boy, Hiro, who is a kind of genius at robotics who’s already graduated high school at the age of 14. His life becomes directionless, and he’s persuaded by his brother to start at the same university. There he meets Baymax, a health care robot designed by his brother.

The movie is set in San Fransokyo, a mixture of San Francisco and Tokyo, with a distinct Japanese flavour too everything, but also recognizably San Francisco in the geography and landmarks. The setting is so convincingly realized that it’s difficult not to want to explore the city in real life.

The film is also effective because it explores notions of loss and depression, along with being pseudo-superhero and a kind of action movie, especially later on. I was generally impressed with its themes and found it consistently funny, so I would certainly recommend it.