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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

vehiclesDIRECTOR: George Miller

CAST: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Riley Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton

REVIEW:

In 1979, an Australian doctor-turned-director named George Miller made a low-budget movie called Mad Max that went on to make a star out of a then-unknown Mel Gibson and virtually launch the post-apocalyptic film genre, as well as serve as inspiration for any number of post-apocalyptic and road chase movies in the decades since.  Miller followed up with 1981’s The Road Warrior and 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.   In the interim, he directed such far more family-friendly fare as Babe and Happy Feet, but Mad Max was always his baby.  During the hiatus, Miller tried various times starting in 1998 to make the film which would eventually become Fury Road, but after several mis-starts, star Mel Gibson dropped out in 2003, feeling he was too old for the part but giving Miller his blessing to forge ahead without him.  In 2009, after several Australian actors (including the late Heath Ledger) unsuccessfully pursued or were considered for the title role, British actor Tom Hardy, at the time still a virtual unknown on this side of the Atlantic, officially stepped into Max’s boots.  Filming commenced in November 2011 but was forced to move from the Australian Outback (the filming location of every previous installment) when unexpected heavy rains transformed the desert into lush fields of wildflowers inappropriate for the look of the movie, relocating instead to Africa’s Namib Desert.  And now, after an arduous shoot and lengthy post-production, Fury Road has finally brought the long-dormant action franchise roaring back onto the big screen.  For many, the thirty-year gap between Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road will be worth the wait.  By Miller’s own admission, this is the movie he would have made all along if he’d been able, and it is clear that this long-gestating project has been a labor of love.  Armed with a budget he could once only have dreamed of (reportedly approximately $150 million), Miller has given us a new adventure that is recognizably a Mad Max movie but also does its own thing.  Mad Max has returned with a bang. Continue reading

The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (2015)

avengers-age-of-ultron-trailer-2DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon

CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Thomas Kretschmann, James Spader (voice)

REVIEW:

As a second “all hands on deck” assembling of the historic all-star team-up of 2012’s The Avengers, Age of Ultron underwhelms.  While Captain America: The Winter Soldier managed to be a worthy adventure in its own right, other chapters like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World felt like obligatory filler, something to pass the time in between Avengers films that you could skip without missing much, but unfortunately Age of Ultron lacks the freshness and giddy sense of glee that made the first Avengers such an infectiously enjoyable spectacle.  Seeing Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, and company all united onscreen isn’t as novel an experience as it was three years ago, and their adventure here feels more obligatory than epic. Continue reading

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