Mad Max: Fury Road

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Mad Max: Fury Road  (B).  Does anybody else find it remarkable (or strange) that Mad Max director George Miller also wrote Babe and directed Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet 2?  Anyhoo, I haven’t seen any of the other Mad Max films, but I was all geared up for a two-hour-long car chase through the Australian desert.  The movie did not disappoint.  It is visually stunning (even in the 2D incarnation I saw), and stuffed to the gills with insane flourishes that I found very entertaining.  There’s not much plot.  In a post-apocalyptic desert, a hideous tyrant named Immortan Joe keeps a largish population in thrall by controlling the water, the food, and an army of albino-mutant “war boys.”  Max (Tom Hardy, The Dark Knight Rises) is a lost soul who gets captured by Joe’s goons, but he gets a chance to escape when one of Joe’s top lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, Prometheus) makes a break for freedom with Joe’s five beautiful and lightly clothed “breeders” in tow.  The rest of the movie is a car chase involving the most ridiculously tricked-out, armed, and armored cars and trucks you can imagine.  My special favorite was the giant truck that seemed to carry nothing but giant bongo drums (and drummers) and a heavy metal guitarist whose double-necked guitar doubled as a flamethrower.  For a delirious, demented ride, Fury Road is this year’s movie to beat.  (But be advised, it is rated R for “intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.  It’s not for the kiddies!)

Snow White and the Huntsman

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Snow White and the Huntsman  (D).  I never in a million years dreamed I would see this movie and look back fondly on Mirror, Mirror, but there it is.  In this version of the fairy tale, a beautiful witch named Ravenna (Charlize Theron, Prometheus) grabs a kingdom by killing its king and locking his daughter, Snow White (Kristen Stewart, Zathura), away in a dungeon.  I’m not sure why she doesn’t just have Snow White killed right then, but some years later Ravenna finds out she can use Snow White and become immortal somehow.  Then Snow White escapes into the Dark Forest, and Ravenna persuades a drunken brute known only as the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, The Cabin in the Woods) to track her and bring her back.  After that, it’s a long, boring slog through all sorts of hooey to get to the long, boring climactic battle.  The dialogue is terrible, the romantic angle is virtually nonexistent (even though a superfluous second suitor for Snow is eventually thrown into the mix), and nothing makes much sense.  I was also sad to see some real actors wasted playing the dwarfs, like Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Toby Jones (City of Ember).  Stewart continues to be a not very good actress, and she’s really not the fairest of them all.  Skip both this movie and Mirror, Mirror, and go see a decent fantasy movie like Brave or the recent live-action Alice in Wonderland.

P.S.  Yikes!  IMDB.com reports that Snow White and the Huntsman II may be in the works!

Prometheus

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Prometheus  (B+).  I barely managed to see this new sci-fi/horror flick before it leaves the theaters, and I’m glad I made the effort.  Director Ridley Scott returns to the universe of his 1979 classic Alien for the tale of a space expedition to a remote world that may hold the secret to the origins of life on Earth.  Once the astronauts arrive, they discover huge alien structures full of dead humanoid aliens, not to mention weirder and slimier artifacts of disturbing import.  I found plenty to like about the movie–the acting was good, and Scott had no trouble ratcheting up the suspense and dread.  There is plenty of gruesome stuff, which will surprise no one who saw Alien or its sequel Aliens.  On the down side, it seemed like an awful lot of stuff was left unexplained, and some of the characters did some things that made very little sense, or that seemed physically impossible.  And I thought Charlize Theron (Young Adult) was sadly underused as the icy corporate representative on the mission.  But in the end, I enjoyed the movie and left the theater hoping there will be a sequel.  If you’re one of the few folks who hasn’t seen the original Alien, I do think you will enjoy Prometheus more if you take the trouble to screen a DVD of Alien first.

Young Adult

A new review from The Movie Snob

Young Adult (B).  The writer-director team behind Juno (Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman) reteam for this dramedy starring the lovely Charlize Theron (Hancock) as Mavis Gary, a 37-year-old divorcee who lives in Minneapolis and has been making a living ghost-writing a series of novels for young adults.  She drinks way too much, her books have stopped selling, and she is generally dissatisfied with her life.  Then she gets an email announcing that her high-school boyfriend, Buddy Slade, and his wife Beth have had their first child.  Although she apparently hasn’t seen Buddy much if at all since high school, Mavis decides that getting Buddy back would be just the cure for her blues, so she packs her Mini Cooper and returns to her small hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, with the avowed goal of wrecking his marriage.  Mavis is both monstrous and pathetic, but Theron invests her with enough humanity to keep me feeling a shred of sympathy for her.  The reliable Patrick Wilson (Little Children) turns in a nice performance as the thoroughly unremarkable object of Mavis’s attention.  Patton Oswalt (The Informant!) plays Mavis’s unlikely confidante, a classmate who was left crippled by a horrific hate crime–because some jocks mistakenly thought he was gay.  Not many laughs, but the movie definitely held my attention and didn’t always go where I thought it was going.  I liked it.

Arrested Development (Season 3)

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Arrested Development (Season 3) (B). Although the abbreviated final season of Arrested Development doesn’t quite hit the delirious highs of the earlier ones, it still packs quite a few laughs into just 13 episodes. The first half of the season is probably the funnier half, featuring a story arc in which Michael (Jason Bateman, Juno) investigates George, Sr.’s claim that some sinister Brits set him up to take the fall for the Iraqi building project. Charlize Theron (Prometheus) has a recurring guest role, and other notable guest stars include Scott Baio (who replaces Henry Winkler as the family’s new lawyer Bob Loblaw), Judge Reinhold, and Justine Bateman in a memorable turn as someone who just might be Michael’s long-lost sister. I hear that there is a movie in the works, and I will definitely turn out for it. Well, if the reviews are good.

Hancock

New movie review from The Movie Snob

Hancock (B). This is a different sort of superhero movie. Hancock (Will Smith, Hitch) is pretty much the equivalent of Superman, except he’s a boozy bum whose heroics tend to cause catastrophic levels of collateral damage while he’s catching the bad guys or saving the imperiled good citizen. (And there are apparently enough bad guys in L.A. to make Gotham City look like Mayberry.) After Hancock gives a helping hand to p.r. man Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, Juno), Ray wants to repay the favor by giving Hancock some free public-relations advice. The movie takes some unpredictable zigs and zags after that, which puts it a notch above your average summer popcorn movie, but I’m not sure that all the zags make sense, so that takes it back down a notch. “B” seems like a fair grade.  Charlize Theron (Young Adult) also stars.

Potpourri from The Movie Snob

New reviews from The Movie Snob:

Roving Mars (C+). This new IMAX production is a tribute to the NASA Mars mission that successfully put two robotic rovers on the surface of the Red Planet. Once there, Spirit and Opportunity met and exceeded their builder’s hopes and expectations, successfully carrying out their experiments and lasting much longer than they had been designed to. This movie successfully conveys the monumental feat NASA’s engineers accomplished by safely landing these amazingly complicated machines on Mars after a seven-month journey traveling 60,000 miles per hour. Unfortunately, though, the visuals just aren’t that striking, and I couldn’t help being conscious most of the time that the views of the rovers on Mars and the Martian surface were digital creations and not actually movie footage. (It didn’t help that the kid next to me kept asking his dad, “Is this real? Is this trick photography?”)

Beautiful babes kick butt: A Movie Snob double feature.

Aeon Flux (C-). No, “Aeon Flux” is not some sort of digestive ailment that afflicts time-travelers. It is the name of Charlize Theron’s character in this post-apocalypse sci-fi shoot-em-up. Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has reverted to uninhabitable wilderness except for humanity’s last enclave, the city of Regna. Most of the Regnites seem reasonably content despite being ruled by a fairly repressive government, but a band of rebels (led by an embarrassed-looking Frances McDormand) is out to topple the regime. Theron is a top rebel assassin, and she is assigned the mission of killing the Chairman himself. Naturally, nothing goes as planned. Despite the acrobatic fight scenes and thousands of rounds of ammo expended in the big finale, this is basically a yawner. Theron won’t be taking any Oscars home for this exercise in banality, although her futuristic pajamas definitely deserve some sort of special achievement award.

Bloodrayne (D). If you’re like me, you’ve been asking yourself one question ever since Terminator 3 came out: When is that babe who played the evil female Terminator going to make another movie? The wait is now over; Kristanna Loken is back! And this time she’s out for blood, as the damfir (that means half-human, half-vampire) character Rayne. She obviously chose this project with some care. First, it’s based on a video game, so she can take as much license with characterization as she likes (she goes with a flat, expressionless approach). Second, she has surrounded herself with talent: the Michael Madsen-Ben Kingsley team you loved in Species, Geraldine Chaplin (Doctor Zhivago) for the older crowd, Michelle Rodriguez for Lost fans, Meat Loaf for I don’t know who. There’s even a “special appearance” by Billy Zane, the fiancee you loved to hate in Titanic! Third, she found costumers who understand that midriff tops have been popular throughout history, even in the Middle Ages. Throw in a sex scene that’s as embarrassing as it is gratuitous, plus buckets—no, geysers—of fake blood, and you’ve got yourself a movie. Okay, this turkey has virtually nothing to recommend it. But it was kind of funny when pretty-boy vampire-hunter Sebastian introduces Rayne to the art of human love-making and has to explain that we generally start by kissing on the mouth, not by going straight for the jugular.