Monday, June 1, 2015

"Mad Max": The New Dark Ages Are Here

By Manifesto Joe

I went to the new "Mad Max: Fury Road" movie expecting a masterpiece. It got a 98% "fresh" rating from the Rotten Tomatoes critics, and was shot by the same director who popularized the franchise, the same Australian director (George Miller) who directed "The Road Warrior (1981)," which was indeed a masterpiece.

I have never been more disappointed by a film in my entire life, and I've seen one hell of a lot of movies. It was a mediocre action film, very light on story and very heavy on fiery crashes and vehicle chases.

When a movie like this can get that kind of rating from Rotten Tomatoes and have the word-of-mouth endorsements it had (everybody I know who's under 35 talked about how good it was), we have, I'd say, finally arrived at The New Dark Ages that have been discussed here and there.

This was a two-hour video game, with barely enough story to give it an excuse for being a movie. The stars were attractive enough, but there was virtually no script.

I honestly can't remember when I've seen anything that one could dignify by calling it a movie. "Danny Collins" left theaters here after one scant week -- I've heard that it might have qualified. Didn't get a chance to see it. Would have to have driven 146 miles to see it after it closed here after one short week.

Not that this is anything new -- I was one of very few people who seemed less than enamored of the 1977 "Star Wars" movie, and yet everyone carried on about it as though it were "Citizen Kane." That one movie seemed to usher in the Lucas-Spielberg "whiz bang" school of filmmaking, in which having a credible story and characters took a clear back seat to car chases and stunts.

And yes, I've seen the "Mad Max" reviews that talk about the film's empowerment of women. Having Charlize Theron look intense, get her head shaved and flex her muscles (well, the ones she had left -- the character was a bit of an amputee) doesn't compensate for the lack of a script. I've also seen the comparisons of "Star Wars" with those silly Joseph Campbell mythology arguments in its favor, and that didn't make it seem any less like a Buck Rogers show to me. (Where was Buster Crabbe?) Fun, yes, but a great film?

Ever notice how many movies nowadays are made with comic books as their source material? "Funny-book movies?" I've certainly noticed this, and it seems no accident.

I've long had a cocaine theory about corporate backing of movies. When you get enough middle-aged men in a room with enough cocaine to get everyone high, well ... you get this kind of decision-making.

Standards -- of any kind -- have been undermined so badly that The New Dark Ages are upon us. No wonder there are so many Republicans roaming about.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Anomalous Propagation said...

Joe -
I just can't agree with you. I thought the original MadMax trilogy was second rate at best. I doubt I'll waste any time at all with any cinema that is derivative of comic books. I'm not being a snob, but comic books are not literature, so no derivative can rise above the original work. I share your disdain for comic book heroes, even heroes in general. They provide unreasonable images with unrealistic values and unattainable goals for mature adults.

Anonymous said...

"The government is full of Jews. Second, most Jews are disloyal....generally speaking, you can't trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?"
----Richard Nixon, 1971.

Manifesto Joe said...

Propagation: You can't agree? -- fine. Obviously, judging from what I saw on Rotten Tomatoes and from the loot at the box office, most people don't.

I did think the 1981 film "The Road Warrior" was a great film, as good as it gets in this particular genre. It had just the right amount of story and character development to sustain the chase-and-explosion sequences. But I was led to expect that this film would be something comparable. It definitely was not.

Anonymous II: Don't understand what you're getting at. Nixon was, in hindsight, a bright guy, definitely smarter than Il Doofus or his dad. Also much smarter than Reagan. But he was also, sadly, a boozy right-winger with the morals of pond scum. It's an American tragedy that this is what he'll be mainly remembered for.

Anomalous Propagation said...

Aww Joe I agree about the remake. I merely couldn't stand the original.

Anonymous said...

>>I did think the 1981 film "The Road Warrior" was a great film

I agree. It was an amazing action film and an astonishing technical accomplishment. Mind-blowing stunts, done in an era before CGI effects.
I'm also partial to the Australian film, "Wolf Creek." Scary as hell. Much more frightening than any recent Hollywood horror film. Hollywood tends to have set rules in horror films, which makes them predictable.
When it comes to horror, I don't care if a film is politically incorrect. I don't care if it's deeply offensive. All I want it to do is to scare the hell out of me. "Wolf Creek" did the job. Roger Ebert gave it zero stars (no doubt because he was offended), so I guess others don't agree with me.
Actually, I had thought about seeing the new "Road Warrior" film myself. But now I have doubts. I'm sick of blowing money on lousy films at the theater. I had heard good things about "Birdman," but I wasn't too impressed.