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Mad Max: Fury Road Review


Extraordinary

Leave it to a veteran to show the young sparks how to do it: it's been 30 years since George Miller last visited his post-apocalyptic hero Max Rockatansky, and now he's back with the best-staged action thriller of the year, a blockbuster that dares to have meaningful themes and complex characters. He also recreates Mad Max as a kind of James Bond franchise with a story that sits alongside the earlier films, not before or after, and an actor who brings a new energy to the role.

In a desert wasteland where people trade water and oil to survive, Max (Tom Hardy) is a loner haunted by the death of his family. Then he's captured by a gang from the Citadel, a towering rock city run by the tyrant Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who has positioned himself as a god who keeps his enslaved people on a short leash. On a mission to collect oil, Joe's top imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) veers her war-rig off into the desert. So Joe sends a gang after her. Leading the charge is the gung-ho Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who uses Max, strapped to his car like a grille ornament, as a blood-bag to supply energy. But after a series of clashes involving three other gangs of desert marauders, Max and Nux end up on board Furiosa's rig, in which she is hoping to smuggle Joe's five young wives to safety.

The plot itself is fairly blunt, which means that the film requires very little dialogue (Max doesn't speak at all for the first 45 minutes, mainly because his houth is actually bolted shut). Even so, Miller fills every shot with telling details that strengthen the characters and provide insight into what they are doing, building more intriguing relationships with suspicious glances than most filmmakers do with endless conversation.

Continue reading: Mad Max: Fury Road Review

Happy Feet Review


Good
Hollywood is led by followers, and whenever a studio comes up with an unexpected left-field hit, other studios tend to rush out imitations, following blindly like lemmings (or penguins) over a cliff.

So when the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins became a surprise hit and ahem, broke the ice, more penguin movies became a possibility. Luckily, one was already in the works, and even more luckily, Happy Feet is the project of Aussie auteur George Miller (best known for Babe), who does not follow anyone's lead. It takes only a few seconds -- the time it takes one of the penguins to sing the first verse of Prince's "Kiss," while another sings "Heartbreak Hotel" -- for Miller's film to qualify as the weirdest movie of the year. (Not having seen March of the Penguins, I wasn't aware coming into this film that each emperor penguin has its own "song." Knowing that fact could have helped me to grasp the concept sooner. Or not.)

Continue reading: Happy Feet Review

Happy Feet Review


Good
Hollywood is led by followers, and whenever a studio comes up with an unexpected left-field hit, other studios tend to rush out imitations, following blindly like lemmings (or penguins) over a cliff.

So when the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins became a surprise hit and ahem, broke the ice, more penguin movies became a possibility. Luckily, one was already in the works, and even more luckily, Happy Feet is the project of Aussie auteur George Miller (best known for Babe), who does not follow anyone's lead. It takes only a few seconds -- the time it takes one of the penguins to sing the first verse of Prince's "Kiss," while another sings "Heartbreak Hotel" -- for Miller's film to qualify as the weirdest movie of the year. (Not having seen March of the Penguins, I wasn't aware coming into this film that each emperor penguin has its own "song." Knowing that fact could have helped me to grasp the concept sooner. Or not.)

Continue reading: Happy Feet Review

Babe Review


Excellent
Baa ram ewe. The already-classic kiddie flick wins raves for its groundbreaking animation and a theme that is both child-accessible while not insulting to adults. Plus, that little pig is so darn cute.

Babe: Pig In The City Review


Unbearable
The problem with sequels is that they try too much to be like the original. Sure, there are a few exceptions. I can't think of any right off the top of my head, but rule #665 in The Critic's Bible: there are exceptions to every rule. Babe, by all accounts, was an intelligent, thought out movie. Babe II: Pig in the City, tries and tries but can't quiet do it.

Sure, the humor is moderately intelligent and the narration includes things like a mention of the chaos theory, but when it boils down to it, Babe II was just like every other sequel: an attempt to carbon copy the original. But, friends, the great copy machine known as Hollywood is broken, and has never gotten a repairman, so we are doomed to watch screwed up attempts at copying, remakes gone wrong, and things screwed up.

Continue reading: Babe: Pig In The City Review

The Year My Voice Broke Review


Good
Interesting and pretty, but not altogether satisfying story of the coming of age of a young Australian boy and the slightly older girl he adores (and who turns out to be a bit of a slut). Nice effort from Duigan, and a smashing introduction by Noah Taylor, who would fly so high in Shine.
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