Saturday, May 16, 2015
Peeved Medium. A review of "Mad Max: Fury Road"
If you're disappointed in that gag, rest assured you're not as disappointed as I was in the film itself.
Here's where a reviewer has to make sure that you understand that s/he's not a film snob. Because if you don't like an actiony-packed-edy movie like this, that's the first reason people might think. Establishing my b-movie bona fides should only take one sentence for y'all:
I've seen all the "The Fast and the Furious" movies.
Now that that's out of the way...
I wanted to like this movie. I wanted to love it, actually. I'd heard from a couple people online that it was an amazing, action-packed ride through a post-apocalyptic hellscape. I read one review snippet that said it was "ballsy," one said it would leave you "speechless." One called it "surprisingly tender." As I look on Metacritic, I see that it has an average score of 89/100 and only one neutral review opposed to 42 positive ones.
Which might lead someone to think... did you miss it, Andy? Did you miss the allegories? The metaphor? The deep layers of meaning? The artistic flourishes? The various homages? The culture war references? The mash-ups?
This is where most reviewers won't, but I will, remind you that I'm a poet and have a degree in English Lit.
I didn't miss that stuff. It's just that it's all thrown in so randomly and heavy-handedly that I can't tell if it's meant to be a tapestry of chaos or just chaos. It's energy and craft masquerading as art. It's volume masquerading as depth. It's verbs masquerading as action.
There are a lot of verbs, to be sure. So booms. Very stunts. And much of the film is beautiful and haunting in terms of the cinematography.There is *artistry* in there aplenty, from the stunts to the backdrops to the costume and make-up design. Lots of individual parts where I thought, "That's very nicely done."
But a movie is supposed to have a story. At least one. And characters you care about. Again... at least one. We have no idea why Max is where he is now. I get it, I know. Right. He's the Wanderer. Right. So... We care about him why? He gave up on... what? He has these weird flashbacks to little girls whom he let down and... nothin'. Same for Charlize's character. I get it. She's saving some few of the people whom the bad guy is being Very Bad to.
Even the action, after awhile, stopped being interesting. Because it was, essentially, the same. Car/truck/cycle with spikes goes fast, shoots things, blows up. The first 15 minutes of that was spectacular. The 2nd 15 minutes of that was interesting. Minutes 31-90 of that were... not.
The audio? There is nothing like dialogue in this movie. The few times there are lines that aren't there for exposition it is almost impossible to hear what they're saying over the ambient booms, bangs and roars and the score, which I found very heavy handed.
I read a lot of sci-fi. I read a lot of weird fiction. I've written some weird fiction and some very weird poetry. I like weird. I like it a lot. And I wanted this to be some kind of super-action-flick-meets-high-art-extravaganza. The trailer gave me goose-bumps.
The movie itself didn't.
I'm sorry. Again... I wanted to love this movie. But while spectacular visuals and action can enhance a good story and decent characters and make an otherwise decent film incredible, they can't fill the void left by no story and flat characters.
Gotta give this one a D+
Because if you go to all that effort on the frosting, the lack of cake seems even more appalling.
Posted by Andy Havens