Tag Archives: Mad Max

Welcome to wild, wild ‘Wyrmwood’

In the spoiler-heavy trailer above, one of the review blurbs calls Wyrmwood: Road of the DeadMad Max meets Dawn of the Dead.” Honestly, that sums it up pretty well.

It’s the zombie apocalypse, in Australia at least. If you don’t have the right blood type, then you turn into the walking dead. Cars are of no use because, it turns out, fuel no longer burns. There’s nowhere to run, few places to hide, and the last of humanity is drastically outnumbered. It’s pretty bleak. Hence, Dawn of the Dead.

Quirky characters abound, from The Doctor – a dancing madman doing experiments on those who haven’t succumb to the plague – to Benny, a goofy dude without seemingly much to offer other than his own special brand of foolish bravery. Toss in the unique armor, the altered vehicles (turns out, zombies belch fuel), the sped-up road scenes and more, and the Mad Max comparison is apt, as well.

But what saves Wyrmood from being completely derivative is the humor and the twist. Not only is the film funny, it’s not afraid to inject humor in truly dark moments, seemingly out of left field. The scene shown in the above trailer where our hero tries to shoot himself in the head, only to be out of nails in his nailgun, is not funny, at all. Until that happens, and then you’re laughing when you know you shouldn’t be. The twist I won’t spoil, but it’s a game-changer and not something I’ve seen used in a zombie flick, at least not the way it’s handled here. It is a tribute to director Kiah Roche-Turner and his co-writer Tristan Roche-Turner that it doesn’t just become a Mad Max knockoff with zombies, but is its own unique entity, and a fun one, at that.

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On second thought: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road”

Skulls everywhere ...

Skulls everywhere …

Had the opportunity to catch Mad Max: Fury Road for the second time in theaters. It’s not something I do often. In fact, it’s probably been since Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty in the late 1990s that I’ve seen a movie a second time on the big screen. Two takeaways from George Miller’s latest Mad Max frenzy:

1. The amount of detail is incredible. Skulls everywhere, on steering wheels, on grills, on shifters, on the girls’ chastity belts, on Immortan Joe’s get-up and so on. The variety and variance among the vehicles – from the drum-and-guitar deathmobile to the unique war rig of Imperator Furiosa – isn’t new to the Mad Max franchise, but taken to a new level here. Hill even uses that to remind us what’s been lost in all this war and terror. There’s a moment between attacks where one of the girls is looking at the ceiling of Furiosa’s truck, and there’s this simple, beautiful pattern covering it. In the days before, that pattern would have likely included birds or cats, but here, more skulls. I can’t wait to watch it on DVD so I can pause to get a better look at those little but visually and stylistically important things that are hard to catch in a movie that moves at the pace Fury Road does.

I live, I die, I live again.

I live, I die, I live again.

2. A new creation story. Miller toyed with that some in Beyond Thunderdome with the story told by the kids who lived isolated from the terror of the world in their own little oasis. Here, the merging of pseudo-Viking religion as well as the worship of good, ol’ Detroit steel and chrome create a blind, unquestioning, suicidal warrior culture not unlike the Islamic extremism seen in pockets of the world we live in today. Immortan Joe is both a priest who preaches about the rewards of virtue and faith as well as god on Earth, controlling the most vital of resources: water. His cult insulates him from the rabble and wholeheartedly seeks to do whatever will most redeem them in Joe’s eyes. Joe promises them that their loyalty will be rewarded when they have left this hard, wretched place and live again in the afterlife. It’s a bit … Margaret Atwood-esque. In the Oryx & Crake/Year of the Flood/MaddAddam trilogy, Atwood shows that a creation story and the religion that develop from it are part truth, part fantasy shaped by necessity and part off-the-cuff bullshit, a mix that helps believers buy in. Miller’s Immortan cult has that feel to it. Brilliantly done.

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5 reasons why 30 some years was worth the wait

Big scary dudes? Check. Crazy weapons? Check. Welcome to the apocalypse.

Big scary dudes? Check. Crazy weapons? Check. Using what appears to be someone else’s skin as a mask? Check. Welcome to the Max-pocalypse.

1. A new Max for a new era. Mel Gibson is one of those guys, like Tom Cruise or Will Smith, who sort of screams “movie star” no matter what role he is inhabiting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is what it is. In Road Warrior and Thunderdome in particular, you never get the feeling Max is in all that much trouble, at least not enough trouble that he can’t get himself out of it with his dope hairstyle intact, whether or not his allies survive. In Fury Road, we get a full on PTSD- and depression-ridden Max who seems as if he might do himself in before any of the wacked out psychopaths in his post-apocalyptic world ever get the chance. Tom Hardy has a vulnerability Gibson lacked – particularly after the original Mad Max – and it plays well within the story. Hardy’s Max is damaged goods, unreliable, unstable, unpredictable. As he should be.

Imortan Joe

Imortan Joe is not a fella who takes being betrayed lightly.

2. A worthy opponent. With very little in the way of character development, Fury Road gets a heckuva lot of villain out of Imortan Joe. He controls the water, and with his allies, the ammo and fuel as well. He has two sons, one a shrunken, mutated man who is wheelchair bound, the other a hulking brute of minimal intelligence. Imortan knows neither has what it takes to rule his empire when he’s gone, so he’s desperate for a non-mutant heir. Yes, Imortan is very much a power-hungry cult figure eager to cement his mortality. But he also wants offspring who more closely resemble him, his abilities, just a dad who wants a son he has something in common with, like pretty much every dad on the planet. There is some genuine grief when he loses his child, as well as an immediate thirst for vengeance. In a movie where every villain is an over-the-top comic-book character – including ol’ Imortan Joe himself – that desire for a “normal” child helps round out what might otherwise be a flat character.

Let's hear it for the girls.

Let’s hear it for the girls.

3. Grrrl power. Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is every bit Max’s equal, possibly even his superior, considering she’s not operating from a place of fear, delusion and shock. The other women of Fury Road, whether they be from Imortan Joe’s harem – the young ladies pictured above – or the rebels from the “green place,” all play key roles. This isn’t a “save the damsel” flick in any traditional sense, and a whole lotta those damsels don’t make it. The fact that the women are part of the chaos and conflict and not just scenery or objects to be protected from harm makes them, and the film, far more interesting than what most American action flicks offer with regards to their leading ladies.

Flying high

As you can see, there’s a whole lotta fury for just one little road.

4. Flying through the air with the greatest of ease. When possible, director George Miller eschewed CGI and went with the real deal. Lots of live stuntmen, lots of shit actually being blown up. It really cranks up the intensity in the action scenes, and there are very few “Whoa that looks fake” moments that plague other big-budget, FX-heavy films. I’ve always wondered why directors went fake when real was a possibility – although some of that probably has to do with safety/insurance concerns – and I suspect that Miller’s new gem will influence other directors to head in that direction in the future.

I can't believe Gwar's touring van is in the movie.

I can’t believe Gwar never thought of this..

5. That crazy guitar-shredding mofo. It’s a dude hung from rubber bands in front of a wall of amps while playing a guitar that shoots flames. Because Wagner blaring from approaching helicopters is so 1969. What’s not to love?

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