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Triple Whammy Review! – Mad Max: Fury Road – SPOILERS

Dan –Mad Max 2

In a time where remakes and sequels are in constant supply, regardless of the demand, it would be fair to say that George Miller has fully deserved the chance to release another addition into the world of Max Rockatansky, with 30 years passing since the the release of Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome, where back then Mel Gibson was still slightly sane, Everton and Liverpool were the dominant footballing sides in England, and Queen were blowing minds during their performance at Live Aid. So now, in 2015, we have Mad Max: Fury Road, with the wonderful Tom Hardy replacing Gibson in the titular role, as well as Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult in supporting roles. With Miller himself stating in an interview with Empire Magazine that Fury Road was set to be “big on action and low on dialogue,” it would be foolish to believe that this latest addition to the Mad Max saga was going to be anything other than spectacle. And boy, is it. And some.

Still suffering heavily from the loss of his wife and daughter from the first film, our titular hero Max (Hardy) is captured by the War Boys, the violent army spawn of King Immortan Joe, whose teachings and tyranny have forced the people of the Citadel into poverty and sickness. Once captured, Max becomes a blood bank for illness-strapped War Boy, Nux (Hoult) who follows Joe and the rest of the War Boys into battle with Imperator Furiosa (Theron) after hijacking a war rig secretly containing King’s Joe’s “wives”, each of whom are used for the purpose of breeding. First off, as you can tell from my very short plot synopsis, to say Fury Road is mad would be doing it a huge injustice. It is a film wrapped in a straight jacket whilst shock-therapy treatment is being applied to it throughout. Seriously, what other film includes a guitar-yielding mad man playing heavy metal riffs on top of a truck whilst his equally mad colleagues set about causing endless destruction, all at the speed of 100mph? That’s right, none. The sheer madness of Fury Road is one that shouldn’t alienate the audience at all and instead, should be admired for the sheer bravery of it to not just be another quirky action movie and instead, stick to its’ guns and be something completely different, much like the original was more than thirty years ago.

If ever there was a cult/B-movie hidden in the form of a summer blockbuster, Fury Road would undoubtedly be it, with the violence turned up way past eleven, and the post-apocalyptic view of the Earth being one totally lost in the face of craziness, of which, is worse than any vision of the future that has ever been seen before in Mad Max universe where ironically, Hardy’s portrayal as the slight-spoken titular character is the calmest thing within it. Hardy has always had a knack of brilliantly portraying characters in films that focus on the physical aspect of their demeanour, whether it be Charles Bronson in Bronson or even Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and it is no surprise that such a gift is fully formed within Fury Road where although there is little in terms of dialogue from Hardy, the sheer physical demands he adheres to from Millers’ 21st century take on Max is more than enough to warrant standing up and applauding.  Applause is needed too for the overall look of the film, with the colour palette ranging from the gorgeously vast sand-induced emptiness of the day to the dark, moonlit shadow of the night, whilst the CGI and stunts seemingly outdoing themselves as the film progressed throughout its’ more than satisfactory two-hour runtime.

There was a personal fear of Mad Max: Fury Road being just another action film before I had watched it, but this potential downfall was put to bed as soon as the film started. What Miller has created here is not just another action film, it is one of the greatest, yet strangest and completely bonkers, action movies of recent times and is easily the best yet in the Mad Max canon. If this is the result of a thirty year wait for a sequel, then I am more than happy to wait just as long for the next. Simply brilliant.

9/10

Josh –

I have to say I made a huge mistake before watching Fury road and that is not watching any of the previous Mad Max movies. I would have enjoyed this film so much more if I knew about the earlier Films in the series. So keep in mind that this review is based solely on what I have seen in Fury Road. Fury Road threw me into detailed apocalyptic baron wasteland, Our protagonist, Max has been captured By a group known as the “War Boys” which serve the Warlord “Immorton Joe”. Immorton Joe is somewhat the god of the citadel and controls the only water source in a vast desert wasteland.

Fury Road shouldn’t be labelled as an action film, it should be “THE” action film. This is exactly what action should be a Chaotic symphony of destruction with cars, flames and blood! Despite most of the action taking place around what is initially a truck the fight choreography is amazing and brutal especially to old ladies. What really makes the action shine is the creativity of the vehicle designs and how they use some of the unique design features to fight on.

Mad Max 5Something I really enjoyed about this film, was the detail in the culture of the War Boys and their Valhalla worshipping towards Immorton Joe. It seemed that every action that one of the war boys took whether that be my Nux or other War Boys added more to the insanity and brainwashing by Immorton Joe for example spraying their teeth silver to look “shiny and chrome” before trying to become suicidal martyrs in the hopes they will be carried through the gates of Valhalla.

Though Max was intended to be the main character, there seemed to be very little character development throughout the film with Max being a man of very little words however definitely made up for it with thrilling action scenes. However in my opinion he was out-shined by Furiosa mainly because she is what starts the events throughout the film with her stealing Immorton Joe’s wives in the hope of taking them to the “Green Place”.

The only negative I had when I was watching the film was the CGI. Luckily there was very little of it apart from the enormous dust storm which did look amazing, however near the end of the film they used a CGI steering wheel that was coming towards the camera as a transition between shots and it really broke my immersion not only because the CGI looked awful but it just wasn’t necessary they could have just faded to black or had rock cover the screen and it would have been perfect.

As you can tell I loved this film yes there was little character development for Max, apart from what we assume is the death of his daughter however nothing else was needed. All we needed to know was that he is awesome and bad ass. The action is amazing creative with raw destruction and apart from a few CGI issues there was nothing wrong with this film and I look forward to watching the previous films and new ones to come.

9/10

Drake –

I’m in the same sinking boat as Josh. A member of the audience with no experience of the original trilogy and I’m ashamed that I never got around to watching it. I’d call it excusable but now, I’m excited to get my teeth in. Aware of the story and basic points of its predecessors, the reveal trailer for this monster had me excited (wink wink). Tom Hardy, explosions, gore, violence and incredible vehicles had me drooling from the start and if you’re reading this and have yet to see this movie, you should probably have left half way through Dan’s introduction.

Rather than babble on, lets get down to business. Fury Road brought a soap box to the convention of movie goers, threw it as Sylvester Stallon and his loaf of bread, pissed on his foot all while making him their little bitch. Expendables? Pffft. Rambo? Pfffft. George Miller isn’t afraid of you. He’s got Mad Max. A crazy SOB with a predisposition to kill shit.

The movie rocks. It rocks harder than Dwayne Johnson. The action is like nothing I’ve seen before. The practical effects were incredible and it must be said, the stunt crew must drag their nuts around in wheelbarrows because the shit they were pulling is next level. Often the difference between CGI and practical is difficult to distinguish which is incredible work by the department, apart from the 80’s transitional effects of Max’s daughter. That stuff was a little weird and outdated in context. I can’t actually pick a favourite between any of the visual effects. The microsecond glimpse of someone’s ribcage opening, the crazy costumes, the big balled stunt crew or the astonishing selection of vehicles. Its a V8 ratters wet dream and I want to be part of it, so much so, I’m going to buy myself one…So click that big Razer sign to the right and fund my new hobby!

Ahem, enough of this plug. The guys have given you a stellar report of the movie. I’m tagging in merely to extenuate their points. Visual effects were top gear, the acting was perfect and the characters were just insane, in a good/bad kinda way. A man with elephantiasis repping a dapper waistcoat with nip holes for his blinging nipple tassel hip-hop chain and dude who should really be DC’s newest Joker what’s not great about that!? But lets be honest, those milk udder women were just plain freaky.

Sure, there are a couple things I have issues with. Its suffered from the Hobbit 2 syndrome where it went from Ultra Mega 8 Billion K cameras to a crappy 10MP compact with dust on the lens and a scene where Max tells the crew to move on while he goes Hulk only to return to the exact spot a cut later. Otherwise, what else can I complain at? Well, apart from the fact that it ended.

In an unpredictable story of survival, Mad Max: Fury Road is a movie that won’t last for just a year. It’ll drop into the books as one of the biggest and best movies of our generation and cement Mad Max at the top of the food chain. BRING ON THE SEQUELS!

Overall Score – 9/10

 

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Dracula Untold – No sparkly shit for Luke Evans today! – Review – SPOILERS

Dracula UntoldConsidering that pretty much every film that involves vampires recently has been dominated by the gay, teen angst, sparkly shit, it is a blessing that Dracula Untold got funding. Something that portrays the king of vampires as a real monster rather than a sex symbol is a good start in my book and hell, I’d hope it would be in everyone else’s. Rather than drag on about how much I hate modern vampire culture in media of recent, I shall simply sum it up in a small little section. Twilight is the scourge of modern media and its butchering of vampires actions infuriates me. As for True Blood, I find it piss poor. With some rather shocking motion blur and the constant barrage of sex, it leaves me begging for the return of Buffy and Angel.

Now to the real question. Is Dracula Untold good? Yes, in fact it is brilliant. Origin stories can go drastically wrong, especially when the history behind it from decades of film and TV appearances have shaped generations of media. Dracula Untold is the origin story of the one and only Vlad The Impaler who was turned into Count Dracula by author Bram Stoker. In the movie, much like the described events of his life, Vlad was enslaved at a young age by the Ottoman empire who he later fought against when he regained his power. Although what happens in Dracula Untold is not exactly what happened according to the history records, the simplified “Ottomans stole him, used him for war and Vlad killing a load of them” was actually true. This time around, Vlad was given 2 options, give up 1000 children or face the wrath of the Ottoman empire. Vlad had no choice considering the fact that he had no army to fight alongside, he agrees but soon retaliates once they threaten to take his son along with the other 1000. This eventually leads to Vlad becoming the vampire we all know and love in his attempt to save his people and more importantly, his family. Many writers tend to simply ignore history when the create a story but this way its refreshing to see someone consider the history behind the man but also tweak it a little to bring in the element of fantasy.

So we have a good story. Do we have good acting? Meeeh. Its alright. As per usual we get a unrecognisable child with the likeability Kim Jong Un to his republic. Vlad’s wife spends more time looking clueless and vacant with absolutely no stage presence among the rest of the cast. As for the rest of the cast, it felt like they just didn’t exist. We didn’t particularly meet any of these but towards the end we are meeting a lot of people who are so anonymous, not even the NSA know who they are. I guess in reality, the movie wasn’t about these people. After all it is named after him. I’ve been waiting for a good Dracula since Blade 3 (Also the reason I like to go by the name Drake!). Luke Evans isn’t a man of incredible talent. Its safe to say that he is good, just good. In this, I feel he has actually managed to fill the role of a character that has a lot of heritage and actually make a character I would like to follow further. Now once again we meet Dominic Cooper. An actor who has appeared in many movies as of recently and typically plays the bad guy. Funnily enough, he still is playing the bad guy but now as the Ottoman leader. There’s not a lot to really say about Cooper. He just about suffices as an evil doer but I want someone I can really hate or someone who can scare the audience. The one that was actually able to do so was the one who gifts his power unto Dracula; Charles Dance.

Visually the movie had a lot of work to do to create good scenes look even better. Unfortunately a lo of the screen had very little depth and it was obvious that most of it, if not all of it was recorded on a green screen. Apart from that, the action was great fun. A lot of the time it didn’t appear very clear but it was very well choreographed considering some of the movements that would take place when Dracula would morph into different states to travel the battlefield. If you’re an action junkie, you will love it. The general action is an almost constant state of brutality which has me giggling with glee from the get-go.

Sure, we didn’t know many characters, those we did weren’t particularly well acted and the real villain wasn’t scary by any means. A little of the story didn’t mean anything and some things didn’t exactly work out correctly. However, its ending was something enjoyed. It left on a note that meant that we could be seeing a return of Luke Evans’ Dracula with the Master Vampire, Charles Dance. If real vampires are your thing, you will get jiggy with this. Many complain about Dracula not needing an origin, but in reality, what’s the point in just refreshing him without exploring something about him with a bit of history. I guess that’s what you get from the Daily Mail and its ilk. Its a movie of good fun, violence and real vampires. 7.5/10!

Dracula Untold 1

300: Rise of an Empire – Review – SPOILERS

300 Rise of an Empire 2300: Rise of an Empire has quite the challenge to stand upon the shoulders of it’s predecessor. 8 years after the original, Zack Snyder is back at the helm with an ensemble of shredded men and a puny teen. This time around, we take a different angle on the war, initially set up 10 years prior drifting through the events of 300 and the death of Leonidas all the way to the final navel battle of the conflict. So, yeah, expect news of a third 300 movie as the way it ends sets up so much more. Let’s hope its not another 8 years from now and that Zack Snyder pulls his finger out to get it done for next year!

To begin, we enter the fray in battle that leads to Themistokles’ (Sullivan Stapleton) killing of Xerxes father 10 years prior to the events of 300. With the narrative moving from this and Xerxes’ move from human to God-king we drop into a political debate on the action needed by Greece to fend off the Persian forces. Upon trying to recruit the Spartans into the battle, we are notified that a squad of 300 has already left and Leonidas is among them. While this conflict rages, Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) naval commander and right hand lady Artemisia (Eva Green) is launching an attack on Themistokles’ limited ships and it is brutal. Themistokles’ tactics are ingenious and his forces exact brutal skill upon the enemy. In terms of acting, the movie was actually very strong (Another crazy thing to see from an action film), Stapleton’s voice sent ripples with every word. His huge build, powerful voice and commanding presence on screen makes him perfect for the role, never slipping up and managed the pressure of the main role without letting it get to him. Eva Green on the other hand is an actor I’ve never been drawn too but she’s always been able to play the bitch without a hitch. She played the role convincingly enough but she still lacks presence when she’s supposed to be this power house.

The flow of the story is great, although it is obvious how the outcome will be, everything feels like a surprise. For an action movie, it does create genuine bonds between characters and seeing them shattered really eggs you on for some revenge. Speaking of revenge, let’s look at the violence and gore. Although I have never read the comic or seen it’s art style, the blood looks incredibly glossy, almost paint-like and that really destroys the illusion when pitted with the actual ferocity of the combat. Albeit, the choreography of the fight scenes is perfect, it’s fluid movement blended with slow motion shots exacerbate the extent of each hit and I couldn’t stop giggling every time I saw someone get a Gladius blade to the face.

Probably one of the biggest and most violent blockbuster this year, Rise of an Empire stands as quite a triumph in my book. A bloody gorefest with a story that answers so many questions. I’m a little peeved with some of the visuals, the blood being one but a giant dog that looked like it had come from Ghostbusters and didn’t even fit into place, nor was it even addressed. A sex scene that looks more like rape and a script that throws back to 300 in the cheesiest of fashion. Finally, I would have loved it to have been a bit longer but this desperate need to make a trilogy for something can stretch it very thin and it’s removed all of the battles on land and replaced them with only naval scenes. Because of all this, I feel I should rate it more on my entertainment factor and 8/10 stands well with me. It’s blood-pumping fun for almost all of the family.

300 Rise of an Empire

Hannibal TV Show Episode 1 S1 – Quicky review!

With a varied cast and a few big stars. Most notably, Mads Mikkelsen with his portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the scariest, darkest and most thrilling character I have seen for quite some time.

Yet, let’s start with our main protagonist. Will Graham, the psychoanalyst with a mind so complex, with dark twists and an explosive imagination. Will is called in by Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to help with some cases. Eventually we come across Hannibal who is also a psychoanalyst and psychologist. His role is to analyse Will and see if he is fit to do the job efficiently and see if he is compromised. Other than this, he tries to befriend him.

The acting throughout was brilliant. With well written lines and the actors ability to show the emotion perfectly, it almost becomes real. Mixed with the dark tints that cover the screen, the sharp cuts and extensive use of shots, scenes become gritty and fill you with tension. After finding that Hannibal is eating body parts, we see him cook it and then serve it to an unsuspecting Will Graham as breakfast. The moment made me wince and swallow the vomit that was slowly trying to work its way out of me.

I strongly recommend this to everyone who reads this. It’s a little gruesome, but its a work of art and is probably one of the best shows I have seen in a while. 8.5/10!