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.