22 May 2015

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

The film industry is currently going through a spout of regurgitating franchises based on books or plots that are part of a trilogy; usually drawn out to an unbearable degree. 

Interestingly, Disney's latest feature, which unashamedly flags environmental issues, comes in the form of an original narrative. An inspiring tale emerges bringing together both fresh and inventive ideas from the twisted mind of writer Damon Lindelof and the trademark heartfelt magic that the studio does so well.
Tomorrowland teleports us directly into an alternative universe based on the theme park attraction of the same name. Driven to invent a better habitat for humanity, the world's most ingenious inventors and top creative minds joined forces and created a place beyond your wildest dreams. A place free from war, religion and destruction, a place that actually has a future. A sci-fi, fantasy reality, concealed neatly in a badge pin that triggers the door to this Utopian realm. 

We are introduced to inquisitive boy genius Frank Miller who gets recruited by robot agent Athena and allowed access to the wonders of this other world. Latest recruit, rebellious tom-boy Casey is constantly challenging the way the world works. Worried sick that her NASA space engineer of a father will be put out of a job,  this girl will do anything including breaking into a government base in order to stop the inevitable from happening. Once she finds herself in a world where all her problems would cease to exist, it is her strong sense of determination that drives the latter part of the film forward. 

A cranky Clooney lends sarcasm and rationalism against the energetic and at times infantile newcomers Brit Robertson (Casey) and Raffey Cassidy (Athena).  Explosive CGI, vibrant wardrobes and spectacular landscapes come together creating an on screen sensory extravaganza. What really makes this film tick is it's strong inner message. Ultimately, this was made with children in mind, but one simply can't ignore the blatant dig at humanity for destroying our precious planet in a similar fashion to that of previous 2008 animation WALL-E. The inescapable dystopian destiny the human race has planned for itself is highlighted, albeit Casey has one thing that can save it all - hope. In fact, hope is the glue of Tomorrowland, except not much else is explained. After all this is the writer who brought us Lost, yet overloading us with various sub-plots and information, to then force out a resolution in a lightening speed rant by Casey seemed a rather easy way out. 

Above all, Tomorrowland is a visually stunning, crowd pleaser that is sure to be a success with it's target audience. Minus the lack of explanation and a few niggles when it came to the script, Bird and Lindelof, just like the creators of this universe make an unstoppable team when it comes to capturing your imagination. An inspiring and generally bewildering experience, not to mention the fun that is to be had watching a royal punch up in a collectors store and a perfectly timed one-liner from Brit baddie Nix played by no other than the plum Hugh Laurie. 

Now, who want's a jetpack?!

Tomorrowland is released in cinemas today, Friday 22nd May. 

Directed by Brad Bird 
130mins, 12A (2015)

19 May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

It has been nearly 30 years since writer, director George Miller has blessed our screens with the cult, post-apocalyptic tale of Mad Max. In all it's awesomeness, Mad Max: Fury Road is an eccentric, kinetically charged car chase that will have you gasping for breath as you witness this sensory explosion of blood, revenge and exhilaration.

Miller has undoubtedly maintained his passion and zest when it comes to this quite frankly 'mad' character residing in this demented universe. Clearly stating that this is neither a prequel or a sequel in a very Scott Prometheus fashion, we still follow the famous Max Rockatansky, albeit this is a very different Max compared to the one we have already met. Mel Gibson's Max was in charge, calculating and clever. Tom Hardy's new age Max may be clever but admittedly erratic, full of spontaneity and rather irrational. Yet, this type of Max needs to be all of the above plus more to survive this dystopian wasteland of a landscape that takes them on one high voltage, non-stop race that is Fury Road.

Minimal dialogue lends it self to this barren desert, vibrantly coloured with dazzling blues and oranges. Stylistically this film is so superior that invariably words simply wouldn't enhance what we see. The sheer grandeur of this production (make-up, costume, vehicles - where to begin?) distracts you from thinking you are virtually witnessing a fetishistic, primal take on silent cinema, that replaces light piano playing with glam-rock electric guitar and booming percussion. Leading man Hardy brings so much complexity and depth to his barely speaking, awkward Max with only facial expressions and periodic grunts to signal his emotions. Naturally, there are aspects that we are only given snippets of and delving into them would have pleased the story-lover inside of us all, yet this obviously wasn't Miller's main objective here. Through flashbacks and supernaturally charged visions we gain an insight into Max's fragile and broken mind supplying him with ample ammunition to aid female warrior Imperator Furiosa in getting the 5 brides away from the grotesque Immortan Joe. 

Charlize Theron is a ball of utter kinetic energy as Furiosa. With one and a half arms she makes 95% of men on screen look as weak as kittens. As it becomes apparent there is more to her story than just saving the women; it is hope that drives the latter part of this narrative. The ironic juxtaposition of placing highly sexualised, scantly clad women - one in the purest form of femininity, pregnant fighting beside their 'protector' Furiosa worked seamlessly on screen. Undoubtedly, there are elements of girl-power; how vigilant and skillful women can be (even in their last trimester), but ultimately Max and their new found blood sucking enemy come friend Nux (insanely performed by Nicolas Hoult) contributed greatly. This sun scored sand has stripped everyone normal life resources and simple pleasures that if you aren't prepared to get your hands dirty in this hell - you will die.      
This bizarre and brilliantly beautiful film will satisfy hardcore fans and indefinitely gain more from younger generations. Accelerating with such pace, Mad Max: Fury Road is a wild, over the top fun-fest, cranking up road rage to a whole new level. A wickedly entertaining film that doesn't take itself too seriously and neither should you.

Directed by George Miller
120mins, 15 (2015)