Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Mad Max: Fury Road
After decades in development hell and a four-year journey from pre-production to final product, Mad Max: Fury Road manages the impossible feat of being worth the wait. Director George Miller, who helmed all previous Mad Max installments, has clearly spent the interim between Max films planning out his fourth movie, because you can tell while watching Fury Road that an insane amount of planning has gone into every shot, every detail. Part of the genius of Fury Road is in the fact that the plot is deceptively simple: in a post-apocalyptic future, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is captured by the evil Immortan Joe and his army of warboys. Meanwhile, Immortan Joe is ordering that Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), his trusted driver, make a supply run to get more bullets and gas. Furiosa has other plans, though, as she steers the convoy into uncharted desert territory hoping to escape Joe’s clutches…smuggling his many brides with her to freedom. All of this is wrapped in some of the most spectacular, visually astonishing, mind-blowing, face-meltingly awesome car chases in all of cinema history. I have never seen action like Fury Road’s anywhere else, it is truly incredible to watch. But this isn’t a film about style over substance. Fury Road breaks down a number of gender dynamic cliches, giving us a terrific ass-kicking female protagonist in Furiosa who DOES NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH MAX. That alone is unusual, but Miller and company go even further by populating the film with solid female characters who all have agency. Apparently Miller consulted with The Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler to make sure that the women in the film were portrayed accurately and respectfully without them feeling declawed. The detail work in Fury Road is likewise astonishing, and each time I watch it I see something new – some piece of the present reappropriated in this rusted, dusty, dystopic future. And the soundtrack is amazing! I could go on and on, but to boil it all down: this is a movie that fires on all cylinders. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a film in theatres. Mad Max: Fury Road is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. Highly quotable, top-notch action, perfectly executed. WITNESS ME!
5 out of 5

The biggest problem that I had with Tomorrowland is that it asks a lot of questions and only teases the answers without offering proper explanations for anything. The film follows a young girl – who I think is supposed to be in high school – as she comes into possession of a mysterious pin which transports her to a futuristic world when she touches it. With the help of a weird girl-robot, also from the futuristic world, she tracks down George Clooney, who used to live in Tomorrowland but was banished years ago. As all of this investigation is taking place, our heroes are pursued by perpetually grinning, black-suited robot men. Of course, everyone finally makes it to Tomorrowland by the time the third act rolls around, and sadly it’s very clearly 100% CGI. Nothing in Tomorrowland has weight, it all just looks phony. The final message of the film is about how the world needs hope instead of despair, and that we should all look happily towards the potential that the future holds. Unfortunately, Tomorrowland never really gives us a reason to do any of that. The retro-futuristic Tomorrowland in the movie doesn’t look especially appealing – it looks like the world as designed by Apple. In the end, there are a couple of good action scenes and nice special effects, but it’s a mystery box with no mystery inside. Tomorrowland tells us to smile and be happy, but never tells us why we should listen.
2.5 out of 5

Room 237
Documentarian Rodney Ascher has a very appealing visual style throughout his body of work. I love the way he presents information, overlaying audio recordings of peoples’ experiences over footage of recreations, diagrams, and text. This style of presentation is what sells Room 237 for me, as the construction of this film is terrific. At any moment you’re being presented with something interesting to engage with, and for a fan of The Shining like me, it was a treat to tour through Stanley Kubrick’s film and really take the time to examine it. However, the testimonies from the subjects of this documentary – the conspiracy theorists and film analysts who think they’ve uncovered weird underlying messages in The Shining – come off as total kooks a lot of the time. Too often, they point out something factual from the film that is undeniably true, but then follow it up by completely misinterpreting these facts in some truly bizarre ways. For example, in one segment, the voiceover testimony points out that the Overlook Hotel has a poster advertising skiing in its lounge, and yet the hotel owner specifically stated that there is no skiing at the Overlook. That’s weird! When a fact like that is presented, my ears perk up. But then the voiceover continues on to say that the skier on the poster is actually a minotaur, and then proceeds to describe how Jack Nicholson kind of looks like a minotaur, kinda. The whole movie is like this: interesting facts that you may never have noticed, followed by too-often looney-sounding analysis. No, I don’t think that can of sauce with a Native American head on the logo in the background of that one scene is indicative of Stanley Kubrick’s fascination with the genocide of Native Americans. No, I don’t think that Stanley Kubrick’s face appears airbrushed on the clouds during the opening credits in just one frame. So Room 237 is a mixed bag. Great presentation, interesting facts, bizarro interpretations. But overall, an entertaining documentary.
3.25 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

This entry was posted in Movies, Sunday Short Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.