The following Mad Max: Fury Road capsule review was rejected by Time Out Chicago since they informed me they already have a “network wide” review (i.e., one that appears in each of Time Out’s city guides), which they also informed me is usually the case with “big box films.” So I’m posting it here instead. Enjoy.
Forget The Avengers, Mad Max: Fury Road is the Summer Popcorn Movie You Need to See
Even if it weren’t any good, I would probably recommend Mad Max: Fury Road just because, as an R-rated “tent pole” movie, it’s something of an anomaly. I’m happy to report, however, that it’s more than good — it’s flat-out amazing from beginning to end, one of the leanest and purest pieces of action cinema I’ve ever seen. The film it reminds me of most is, believe it or not, Buster Keaton’s The General; the entire first half is basically one long heart-stopping chase from west to east and the second half one long heart-stopping chase from east to west. Exposition and the illusion of “character psychology” are refreshingly absent but it’s also full of the kind of highly idiosyncratic, occasionally surreal production-design touches that have always been director George Miller’s specialty (a combination electric guitar/flamethrower, chastity belts with metal teeth, etc.) and it’s all beautifully cut together (the shots match!) by his wife Margaret Sixel who had never edited an action movie before.
While Tom Hardy is credible as the laconic Max (a role originated by a then-unknown Mel Gibson), don’t let the title fool you: Charlize Theron, playing a kickass heroine with the irresistible name of “Imperator Furiosa,” is co-lead with Hardy and arguably the more important of the two characters. She’s the one on a specific mission — the details of which I won’t give away — while he’s more or less just along for the ride. Furiosa is also but one of several intriguing female characters in a movie that should satisfy fans of the earlier Max films while also offering surprises at every turn; the more I think about it, the more this action movie strikes me as genuinely subversive in its feminist bent — yet another reason why this is the one summer “popcorn movie” that everyone needs to see.
This Saturday, May 16, I’m introducing a screening of E.A. Dupont’s silent German masterpiece Variete at Transistor Chicago. I’ll be screening my German Blu-ray of the 2015 F.W. Murnau Foundation restoration, which runs 20 minutes longer than all previous home video releases (and one should note there are no plans for a North American release). The event is BYOB and admission is free. Here is the description I wrote for the Transistor website:
A major masterpiece of Germany’s silent film era, E.A. Dupont’s tragic, darkly ironic tale concerns a love triangle between trapeze artists that ends in betrayal and murder. Emil Jannings is at his best as the cuckolded husband but it’s the brilliant cinematography of Karl Freund (‘Metropolis’) that really makes ‘Varieté’ fly. Only released in the U.S. in truncated form, this 2015 restoration by the F.W. Murnau Foundation magnificently revivifies Dupont’s film to its original glory. (1925, R, 94 minutes)
More info here: http://www.transistorchicago.com/51615
May 11th, 2015 at 8:41 pm
I would love to see you introduce Variety. I have not seen it since film school, and you will do an amazing job.
May 11th, 2015 at 8:41 pm
Of course, I can’t because I am in Florida.
May 11th, 2015 at 9:25 pm
Thank you for giving the new Mad Max film a very positive review:) I am totally looking forward to seeing this:) Not only because it is a Summer movie that goes for an R rating giving it an edge, but I personally think that superhero movies have entered a kind of stale faze that they need to get out of (we need more Paul Verhoevens). Also, I am a big fan of Australian filmmaker George Miller and he seems to really care about the film itself and how it will entertain and captivate the audience. I think Time Out Chicago should have posted your review because that would have been cool:) You are awesome 🙂 Keep up the great work as always:)
May 12th, 2015 at 7:33 am
May 12th, 2015 at 1:23 am
Nice review sir…
May 12th, 2015 at 7:32 am
July 6th, 2015 at 7:06 am
[…] “Mad Max: Fury Road is flat-out amazing from beginning to end, one of the leanest and purest pieces of action cinema I’ve ever seen.” https://whitecitycinema.com/2015/05/10/mad-max-fury-road-e-a-duponts-variete/ […]
December 30th, 2015 at 10:19 am
[…] Capsule review here. […]
June 4th, 2016 at 11:51 pm
I really enjoyed the Mad Max movies, and I was already planning to see this new one, but after reading your reveiw, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Thanks
June 5th, 2016 at 7:11 pm
Thanks for reading!