Tag Archives: Nicholas Hoult

Film Review: Mad Max Fury Road

Written by: Graeme Wood
19.05.15

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You might think that you know all there is to know about cars and trucks but wait till you experience this film! The real stars of “Mad Max-Fury Road” are the array of soup’d up, pimped up metal monstrosities that tear across the desert landscape and engage in robust carnage. They are equally strangely beautiful and awkwardly ugly, there’s nothing elegant about them at all. They’re made of joined up bits of different weather beaten road hardy vehicles and soldered together to create angular modes of transport. They’re weaponised too with all manner of hidden defence and assault capabilities, the best of which are long poles rising into the air from which their assailants dangle performing an acrobatic ballet then lean across the vehicles they are pursuing dispatching death and grenades in equal measure!
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Our two stars in the battered and supercharged War-Rig may be Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron but they struggle to get a look in amidst the clanging metal, fire laden racing and dusty road battles of these vehicles. Bizarrely the pursuing bad guys even bring along their own soundtrack, with guitars, speakers and drums melded into their vehicles cleverly providing the movie’s soundtrack and their own battle anthem! This is a very loud film with incidentals and effects turned up to the max.

Thematically it is a women in prison escape movie but its also one long ‘Wacky Races’ type chase against a post-apocalyptic background!

Furiosa (a shaven headed and nearly unrecognizable Charlize Theron) is engaged on a regular trip from The Citadel, a mountain encampment where the populace is kept under the mighty thumb of Immortan Joe; by his control over their water supply. The citizens of The Citadel are a nightmarish bunch with freakish half men, albino bald-headed warriors and obese women used to farm breast milk! Furiosa leads her convoy off-road and when it turns outmad_max_charlize_theron she’s helped several of Joe’s imprisoned slave wives to escape his breeding vault the chase is on! Amongst her pursuers is Max himself – introducing the films narrative with a Bane-like (Batman) voice over Max is strapped to the front of a jeep as a living ‘blood bank’ for a young warrior – or ‘war boy’ – called Nux (an equally unrecognisable Nicholas Hoult). You have to give some credit to Hardy, taking over the iconic role of Max from Mel Gibson and who spends the first third of the film tied up with his face obscured by a metal grid while valiantly attempting to convey Max’s fury, insanity and fear on this unplanned road trip.

The action is shot with momentum and jerky reality by George Miller capturing the dusty bleakness of the landscape and providing a number of tense sequences especially during chases in the bold first half of the movie. One advantage the film has over some of this year’s other big screen offerings is that much of the action consists of real-world rather than computer generated effects. You feel the scrapping of metal and the thunder of wheels because it really happens. An army of stunt people provide some impressive work conveying a sense of real danger and excitement to the audience. In this respect it is far more captivating than the now standard superheroes demolishing public buildings and landmarks in some of those other blockbuster spectacles.

At just the moment when Miller realizes we may be tiring of tyres not to mention engines, dust and people under wheels, the film opens up with (a little) more shade. Its revealed that Furiosa is taking the escaped concubines (all beauty and white drapes) to her mystical ‘green place’ and circumstances cause Max and Nux to join them, initially under duress, but eventually as willing allies. There’s a neat twist that you may see coming which turns the film around literally for a final half hour and because the first third has been so intense it doesn’t have quite the same impact. Even so this still provides a final chase that leaves you grimacing with disbelief as one near death jeopardy after another is overcome.
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Inevitably the humans struggle as much with character as they do to stay alive; though there is a message of hope running through the film. The protagonists are all searching for some form of escape, Tom Hardy’s Max, struggling with bouts of delusion and stark images of a dead daughter is hard to relate too and could have done with a little more dialogue, meaning that Charlize Theron steals the film as the determined but practical Furiosa, channelling empowerment and looking like ‘Alien’s’ lead character Ripley. Nicholas Hoult has the only real character development, his early nihilistic Nux slowly losing faith with the god like Immortan Joe through an early attraction and the kindness of fellow escapee Capable. Hugh Keays-Byrne’s Immortan Joe looks like something H R Giger may have dreamt up and provides the necessary menace (all snarls and raging eyes) and danger as the film’s main villain. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley plays an escaped and heavily pregnant bride (the bizarrely named The Splendid Angharad) with an air of fierce determination that adds some emotion to her sacrifice and Riley Keough as Capable gives enough to make her character stand out from the other brides who provide little more than background.

This is not a subtle movie, drawing from Western and comic book iconography as well as having more than a hint of humour lifted from those old Road Runner and Wacky Races cartoons, albeit in a slightly demented form. Some may weary of its near constant motion and frenzied action but with comparatively little CGI, a terrific sound mix, thrilling stunts, breathtaking cinematography and strong direction this latest entry into the Mad Max franchise is a thoroughly exciting ride that has to be seen on the largest screen you can find to be fully appreciated!

Tom Hardy as Mad Max

Tom Hardy as Mad Max

With its early global box office success and having managed to breathe new life into a series of memorable 80s movies it will be interesting to see where Miller takes our road weary anti-hero Max next on his travels.

 

Film Review: X Men Days of Future Past

Written by Michael Dequina
23/05/14

 

 

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Days of Future Past is based on, but fairly liberally adapts, one of the most famous and beloved of storylines on the X-Men comics pages.

The botched third installment of the film series, The Last Stand, and this one provide a classic compare-and-contrast case study in how one can effectively take necessary liberties with the source material while still respecting and retaining the core arcs and themes–and Bryan Singer, returning to the X director’s chair after a decade-plus absence, not only gets the balance right but also further enriches the material and the ongoing film franchise with his own unique spin.

The basic scenario remains the same. Sometime in the future, humanity’s prejudices against super-powered mutants have escalated not only to outright war but genocide, with mutants being hunted down and exterminated by giant robot executioners known as Sentinels. With the free mutant population, much less the X-Men team, reduced a rapidly dwindling few, a desperate, last-minute plan to save the race is enacted: send the consciousness of one remaining X-Man back in time to prevent an assassination that serves as the literal and figurative trigger point for the chain of events directly leading up to that point.

Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg then adjust the details, both to keep in line with the films’ own unique continuity and, to be frank, satisfy certain commercial interests. Here, instead of that of a fear-mongering senator, the assassination that must be thwarted is that of the very creator of the Sentinels themselves, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage); but the biggest change is that the X-Man being sent back in time is, of course, Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) rather than the comics’ Kitty Pryde.

x men trioWith the fate of the very world, much less the entirety of mutantkind, at stake, this is one of the most epically scaled of X-Men comics stories, and the film version reflects that size and ambition in its large ensemble encompassing actors from both the First Class prequel and the original three films in the franchise. But even with an even larger cast than usual, this turns out to be the most intimately focused of the series to date, zeroing in not on Logan but rather Professor Charles Xavier.

While Kitty and the future Professor X (Patrick Stewart) send Logan back to the First Class era of 1973, the Charles he finds there is far from the battered-yet-not-broken one we last saw at the end of that film. Unkempt and living in near-seclusion, his vast telepathic powers suppressed by drugs that enable him to walk (developed by his one remaining young charge, Hank McCoy/Beast, again played by Nicholas Hoult), the 1973 Charles (James McAvoy) *is* broken, and rather bitterly so. A confluence of events and circumstances have drained all hope for and belief in his idealistic dream of mutant and human harmony. And so beyond the concrete physical particulars of reaching Mystique before she can fire her fateful bullet, the greatest task in Logan’s mission to save Xavier’s dream, is to resurrect the dream within the dreamer himself.

And so unlike both the previous films and the source story, Days of Future Past rather boldly plays strongest, not as a typical superhero action extravaganza, but as a truly character-driven drama.

The great irony in pushing Wolverine to the forefront in this version is that he doesn’t have a lot of big fight scenes, which, while possibly disappointing to fans of his trademark berserker rages, effectively reinforces that this is an older, wiser, and (slightly) more mature version of Logan than we’ve seen before.  Jackman does a terrific job conveying the subtler, differing nuances while still maintaining the familiar, devil-may-care core personality, and he and McAvoy have a great rapport with the Logan/Charles role reversal relationship here.

x-men-days-of-future-past - duoBut while Logan is the entry point into the story and concept, the heart is lies with Charles, Erik, and Raven, and Singer takes advantage of the embarrassment of acting riches that is the central trio of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence.  All three are at their most movie star charismatic here, with their formidable dramatic chops lending real gravitas and palpable emotional stakes as they continue their struggles and conflicts with each other and within in order to act for the greater benefit of their kind.

While the film could have used more glimpses of the post-apocalyptic future world Singer makes the scenes set there count as both action beats and solid support for the main story thread in set in the past.

But the biggest support Days of Future Past gives is to the X-film franchise’s future, building on and advancing the renewed fan and general audience goodwill generated by First Class and last summer’s The Wolverine.

Singer and company leave this film with a myriad of promising plot possibilities and directions on where to go next, but what most intrigues is how and where the *characters* progress from this point–a reflection of how well he has captured the true essence of what has made and will make the X-Men’s popularity survive and thrive in days of future and past.

Michael Dequina
http://themoviereport.com

watch the trailer here