Tag Archives: mad max

Failed Critics Podcast: One MILLION Dollars! Triple Bill

everestWelcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast. As promised, Steve Norman is back in the host’s chair this week as the award winning duo of Jack and Phil from Wikishuffle depart to be replaced by Matt Lambourne from the award winning video-game podcast Retro Asylum, such is the quality of guest on our shows these days!

As ever, they are both joined by Owen Hughes for this week’s triple bill episode, where each member of the team pick three films made for one million dollars or less in a bid to prove that the quality of a movie is not always dependent on its budget.

Before all of that, the guys also take a look at the Primetime Emmy Award winners announced this past weekend and indulge themselves with the final round of our ongoing quiz – which, for once, isn’t as shambolic as you might expect! There’s also time for:  Steve to tackle Everest, starring Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin amongst others;  Matt blows the dust out of his Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie cartridge;  and Owen joins him in continuing the video-game adaptation conversation by listing everything wrong with Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Join us again next week for reviews of Sicario, The Intern, and The Martian.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT LINK

Adultimation – Fist of The North Star (1986)

Here at Failed Critics, we’re all attempting to regain our collective composure after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road over the last couple of weeks. But just when you thought it was safe to leave the wastelands behind, Matt Lambourne takes us back into the post-apocalyptic future with one of the most famous and entertaining Anime’s ever created.

By Matt Lambourne (@LamboMat)

fist of the north star 001If you enjoy Anime films, comics or video-games you are already probably familiar with Fist of the North Star (or Hakuto No Ken in Japan), but if you haven’t then strap yourself in for an epic assault on the senses!

I’ve wanted to discuss Fist of the North Star for a long time with my colleagues on the Failed Critics team, but we’ve lacked a relevance to feature it. However with the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, I think we have a mutual ground of interest to dip into the ultra-violent and harsh world of this film.

The world of Fist of the North Star is set amongst the post-nuclear global war, scorched Earth. Much of the world is wasteland and few survivors remain. Those that have survived, struggle to rebuild a fragile way of life and continue to fight over the limited food and water supplies that remain.

The hero of the film is Kenshiro, who is to succeed his adopted father Ryuken as the new First of the North Star, a deadly assassination style that is passed from from one Master to a chosen successor.

However Ryuken’s other adopted sons grow jealous of the rise of their youngest sibling and plot against him to remove him from the line of succession. Early in the movie, Kenshiro is confronted by his long-time friend, Shin, who has a deep love for Kenshiro’s fiancée, Julia.

This is used as bait by Kenshiro’s older brother, Jagi, who convinces Shin that only the strongest can protect the ones they love and that he should forcibly take Julia away from Kenshiro.

This results in a grizzly scene in which Kenshiro is repeatedly maimed by Shin (Fist of the South Star) and he inflicts 7 severe wounds into Kenshiro’s chest before leaving him for dead and taking Julia with him.

The story reconvenes a year after Kenshiro’s death at the hands of Shin and we are introduced to 2 children, a thief named Bat and a mute girl named Lin, who are being pursued by a biker gang (ala Mad Max). Just as the 2 are cornered by the murderous bandits a strange and dark figure is seen wondering in the barren landscape, heading towards them.

fotns“Infact, you’re already dead…”

The figure begins smashing down the crumbling skyscrapers with his fists as he casually walks towards the group. As it draws closer the bikers engage the figure who is eventually revealed as a rejuvenated Kenshiro, who easily annihilates them and rescues the 2 children.

The group eventually meet another deadly martial artist named Rei who is searching for his lost sister. She is being held captive by Jagi, who is impersonating as Fist of the North Star and reigning in terror of the local towns-people.

The group engage Jagi and he is eventually defeated, but not before he makes Kenshiro aware of his betrayal and that he encouraged Shin to take Julia. Learning that Julia is still alive, Kenshiro makes his way to Shin’s stronghold. However he is unaware that his eldest brother Roah: The Conqueror is moving there also with a huge and deadly army, which sets up a climactic battle between the 2 deadly brothers at the end of the film.

There is much to critique about Fist of the North Star, the character development is very much an after-thought to the spectacular violence and compared to the great Anime movies that come at the end of the decade (Akira for example), the animation is very ordinary.

However I think this misses the point of Fist of the North Star. It’s a movie that concentrates on how men’s sole desires influence their entire existence when the world around them falls apart. A theme that was explored to great effect in Mad Max: Fury Road, whereby Max is reduced to a single human instinct, survival. In this movie, Kenshiro’s undying love for Julia keeps him alive and is his sole reason for existence, whilst everyone else around him is power hungry and bent on domination.

Whilst these movies are explicitly different, Fist of the North Star and Mad Max share many themes, particularly the protagonists. It’s what made me instinctively think of FotNS when watching Fury Road and going back to the original Mad Max.

The film’s action is what it is most remembered for, with it’s over the top martial arts and splatterhouse death sequences being some of the most infamous in all of anime. But at the heart of the movie, is an overwhelming sense of the triumph of human-spirit, as Kenshiro wanders the wilderness in search of his true love, the only motivation he has to keep on living.

It may not rank amongst the greatest Anime movies for the purists and perhaps detracts away from the source material in the comics of the same name. But for me, Fist of the North Star is blissfully nostalgic, stylishly violent and conveys a great message behind all of the madness it shrouds itself in.

Just stay clear of the mid-90’s live action movie… we’ll just conveniently pretend that never happened!

Failed Critics Podcast: Child Performances Triple Bill

poltergeist

They’re heeeerrrrreeeee….

And by ‘they’, we of course mean ‘we’. We’re here to host another triple bill edition of the Failed Critics Podcast!

This week, Mike Shawcross and Matt Lambourne step into the fold along with regulars Steve Norman and Owen Hughes as they each pick their three favourite child performances in film. From sweary little girls, to doom-bringing seven year old boys, we’ve covered all of the best young performances that we could fit into 100 minutes of podcast.

Amongst that, we did still manage to squeeze in a quick round up of who-won-what at the Cannes Film Festival, which closed this week. In keeping with the Cannes theme, Mike even watched a film called The Beaver that was first screened at the festival a few years back, starring Mel Gibson. And, as if we’d planned it (we didn’t), Matt also watched a Mel Gibson movie as he looks back on the original 1979 Australian rampage film Mad Max. Meanwhile, Owen recounts his experience this past weekend at a Q&A with Al Pacino, whilst Steve quickly runs through 2012’s Avengers Assemble and the latest season of Game of Thrones.

Join us again next week as we look at Pacino’s latest project Danny Collins, as well as the Rock’s new disaster movie San Andreas.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

P.S. If you can’t wait a whole week to hear Steve & Owen’s voices again …… check out the second ever Quizcast, this time hosted by Tony Black of Black Hole Cinema (or listen to the original Quizcast here).

Failed Critics Podcast: Mad Critics Fury Podcast

mad maxHello and welcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast! Joining hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes this week are Andrew Brooker and Jackson Tyler, sharing their opinion on the latest installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise, as well as George Miller’s triumphant return to post-apocalyptic Australia with Mad Max: Fury Road.

Starting off the podcast as ever is our quiz – in its new revamped format! With things teetering on a knife-edge; will Steve lose and be forced to watch Kill Keith yet again; will he win and force Owen to watch Kill Keith again? Or, with a bit of luck, will the cursed video-tape that is Keith Chegwin’s magnum opus finally be passed on to somebody else so we never have to darken our DVD player with it ever again?

We also chat about the 68th Cannes (with an ‘s’) Film Festival, from the end of the McConaissance to institutional sexism. There’s even room for Owen to revisit a film talked about exactly 150 episodes ago; Jackson shares his love for Alexander Payne’s high-school political-satire Election; Steve puts his geo-gea-jolly-ologist expertise to good use when reviewing The Day After Tomorrow; and Brooker delves into the twisted mind of James Cullen Bressack with Pernicious ahead of its UK release next month.

Join us again next week for reviews of the Poltergeist remake (why?), Disney’s Tomorrowland and the latest CGI-laden disaster movie San Andreas.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE


DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

Mad Max: Fury Road

Following his recent Mad Max retrospective, Andrew Brooker returns to take a look at George Miller’s latest entry to the series. Spoiler: he bloody loves it.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

mad max fury road“It’s a lovely day.”

It’s been 36 years since George Miller changed the face of action movies and defined the post-apocalyptic genre for decades to come with his original vision of the future, Mad Max.  It’s been 34 years since he made one of the most iconic action films to ever grace the cinema, paving the way for a sea of imitators that lasted more than three decades and it’s been 30 years since the slight misfire that was Beyond Thunderdome.  With the kind of pedigree the Mad Max franchise has, you could be forgiven for being a little skeptical at a reimagining of the title a few decades after the last one has been and gone.

Mad Max: Fury Road has had a turbulent time getting to us. Green lit 15 years ago once a script was completed and returning helmer George Miller was ready to shoot. Cast changes, a complete location shift from the Australian outback to the African desert and a huge delay to reshoot large portions of the film had us wondering if we would ever see the film.  Coming dangerously close to becoming the stuff of myth and legend, Fury Road seemed destined to find a permanent home in development hell, never to see the light of day.

Thankfully, today the world can see the film that nearly wasn’t. The film that looked like it had been canned more than once over the years and frankly, the film that everyone needs to see.

Now bear with me, because I’m going to start with a negative.  My one and only problem with Mad Max: Fury Road is that I simply don’t know what I can and can’t talk about. I usually base those decisions solely on what’s been shown in a film’s trailer but even the ads are a bit spoiler-ish and as such I avoided them all.  Every scene should be experienced unspoiled and fresh on that big screen without having ever seen it before.  On top of that, it’s a Mad Max film. These films have very little story to them and are instead all about the visuals and the feelings those visuals emote in its audience.  With that in mind, and I hope I’m allowed to do this, If you want to see the film unspoiled as I suggest, skip straight down to the last paragraph for my wrap-up and come back when you’ve seen the film. I promise there will be no spoilers, I will keep to what has been shown in the marketing for the most part, with an occasional bit added for context and elaboration, but I’ll be talking about a few details I was very appreciative of not knowing much about on my first viewing.

Still with me? Right.

Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially a reboot of the series that forgoes the world building of the first film. So instead of being a complete restart to the story, we first meet Max an unspecified amount of time after he’s lost his family to the brutal gangs that run amok across the post-nuclear wasteland of Australia. Having already spent years foraging for food and gas, The ever brilliant Tom Hardy takes on the title character, replacing Mel Gibson and making the role his own.  Hardy’s Max comes to us a broken shell, near feral, being chased across the sand by the ferocious War Boys, a savage tribe of warriors led by the terrifying Immortan Joe (brilliantly played by Hugh Keays-Byrne – the original Mad Max’s “Toecutter”). Within a minute of the opening shot, former cop Max Rockatansy’s iconic Pursuit Special is destroyed and Max is taken prisoner, branded and stuck in a cage in Joe’s Citadel, a fortress built into the rocks of the outback, and left to rot.

While this is happening, Joe’s best rig driver, Imperator Furiosa, played wonderfully by the amazing Charlize Theron, has taken a detour on a routine transport run prompting suspicions from the War Boys and their leader.  It quickly transpires that Furiosa has helped Immortan Joe’s wives escape their captivity, running from their lives of forced breeding for the self-appointed king and desperately searching for a safe place to continue their lives free of servitude. The War Boys give chase, and so begins the greatest 110 minute chase scene in the history of film.

For reasons best left alone for fear of ruining way too much, Max finds himself joining Imperator Furiosa on her war rig, fighting against King Joe and his tribe battling to get his prized harem back from the traitor that took them from him. Cutting a path through the wasteland in their heavily armoured tanker truck, Max and Furiosa find themselves in a frantic, constantly moving vehicular skirmish as the tribe calls for backup from the outlying gangs and tribes that hunt in the desert. As the numbers against them increase, the odds seem to get ever more hopeless for the road warriors who are in just as much danger from the road ahead of them as they are from the crazed animals in cars behind them.

As was the way all those years ago, Mad Max: Fury Road‘s genius isn’t so much in its story as it is in its design. Not one detail is missed and not one thing you’ll see is an accident. The cars have been meticulously built to be functional but look menacing.  From one tribes bug looking vehicles that have been covered in spikes to the huge truck that has only one purpose; to house every speaker known to man, four guys on drums and one guy playing an insane guitar that spits fire from its neck at random intervals. I kid you not, no matter how I describe it, you won’t believe it when you see it and you won’t be able to keep from laughing at it when it appears. It’s spectacularly stupid and hilariously brilliant. If any other film done that, you’d up and walk out of the theatre shaking your head in disgust, but George Miller has weaved a world so good, so colourful and so absolutely bonkers that a dude playing fiery guitar on a sand truck not only makes absolute sense, but it fits right in!

The vehicular carnage in Fury Road will be a yard stick for years to come. All action scenes will be compared to these for the next few years as the film turns everything up to eleven as it crushes, rips apart and blows up enough cars and trucks to fill a decent sized service station. The first big chase alone, the chase that introduces Furiosa and Max was a 20 minute spectacle that when it ended, when the screen was filled with light and silence, I discovered I’d been holding my breath and was literally on the edge of my seat. I was relieved it was over so I could relax, have a swig of my drink and take a couple of breaths.  Almost as soon as I had relaxed and my heart had returned to its normal rate, Mad Max: Fury Road pushes yet another adrenaline fuelled skirmish onto the screen and makes you sit in awe as Miller find more spectacularly twisted ways of destroying cars, trucks and people as Max, Furiosa and the Wives try to get to their destination in one piece.

Now don’t be fooled. This isn’t The Road Warrior and Max isn’t protecting a fragile group of people that don’t know how to defend themselves.  Here, Max is simply along for the ride and has found himself in the middle of an escape plan hatched and executed by Imperator Furiosa and the women she is helping escape. Almost surplus to requirements, Max has met a group that can be just as ferocious as he is and are just as determined to survive the harsh landscape on their own.  Charlize Theron does an amazing job of bringing Furiosa to the screen and in the illustrious tradition of Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor before her, the deadly war rig driver stands proud as one of the greatest, strongest female characters ever to grace our screens.  Holding her own against the biggest and baddest of Immortan Joe’s army, Furiosa and the wives are more than capable of standing up for themselves and keeping themselves alive when the odds are seemingly against them.

Last generation, almost every action film was influenced, some more than others, by George Miller’s original Mad Max films.  The director had created the epitome of on-screen action and everybody needed to take their cues from him to be taken seriously.  Now, a new generation of films and filmmakers are coming. And every single one of them will be turning to Fury Road for guidance and inspiration.  Redefining a genre Miller himself created almost four decades ago, Mad Max: Fury Road is nothing short of a masterpiece. Amazingly filmed, beautifully visceral combat; stunning visuals and an amazing score all added to the near flawless acting and the direction that makes you want to get up and cheer throughout the film; they all combine to make one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve had in quite some time.  I can’t recommend this film enough.  It is, in a word, perfect.

Mad Max: A Retrospective

Ahead of next week’s release of Mad Max: Fury Road, we’re taking a retrospective look back over George Miller’s original trilogy of post-apocalyptic action films.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)


mad maxI’m scared, Fif. You know why? It’s that rat circus out there. I’m beginning to enjoy it.

Back in 1979, George Miller exploded onto the scene with low budget action film Mad Max. Having only previously made a short with his buddy, Mad Max producer Byron Kennedy, Miller brought a vision of the future to the screen rarely seen before. Wrapped in a real life fear with an unmistakable prediction for our future, Max’s world was one of chaos. A world shaped by the population’s relentless desire to keep their vehicles running on the increasingly rare petrol that we took for granted before the oil wells dried.

Casting a then unknown Mel Gibson, a man with only one theatrical film credit at the time (and honestly, do you remember the Australian “thriller” Summer City? Rated a spectacular 4/10 on IMDB? Me neither) with no money, a star no one had heard of and with nothing to lose, George Miller put his heart and soul into a film that, if it had gone badly, could have ended his film making career before it had even had a chance to splutter into life.

Now this was the late seventies. A time long before just the hint of a film idea had studios clambering to find room on their lots to film a trilogy, or more. A time before people would be walking out of the cinema already talking about a sequel and a time before franchises were churned out into multiplexes no matter how successful, or unsuccessful, they were. So when you see that Mad Max spawned a trilogy in a time where trilogy meant Star Wars and The Godfather, NOT the Alvin and the Chipmunks or the bloody Transformers, you know it was something special.

On what amounts to a shoestring budget, George Miller created a dystopian world to simultaneously amaze and depress us. And with Miller returning to the desert soon with Mad Max: Fury Road, now seems as good a time as any to revisit the trilogy that launched Gibson to superstardom and gave Miller a directorial career that spans more than 35 years. I wanted the franchise fresh in my mind ready for the fourth instalment, I wanted to return to the world I first visited as a kid and most importantly, I wanted to see if the trilogy still held up today as one of the greats and it isn’t, as so many things are nowadays, simply being held together with fond, rose-tinted nostalgia.


1] Mad Max (1979)

Budget: $350,000

Gross: $8,750,000

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Law and order is beginning to collapse as fuel, the worlds most replied upon resource, becomes it’s most precious. Set “a few years from now”, Mad Max is the story of Mel Gibson’s Max Rockatansky. Policeman, and top pursuit driver for Australia’s Highway Patrol, the MFP.

The thing that makes Mad Max stand out amongst a lot of other films, is that at less than 90 minutes, it wastes very little time on action scenes and set-pieces that it doesn’t need. Opting instead to spend the majority of its run time building the world and letting the audience become a part of it. After a spectacular 10 minute car chase, ok, not The French Connection or Ronin kind of spectacular, but it was pretty great, the film spends an hour with very little going on as it elects to instead flesh out its characters and tell the story that Miller wants– no, needs to tell.

You see, Mad Max‘s concept came from an international crisis just a few years earlier. For many and varied political reasons the Arab nations that control the vast majority of oil in the world declared an embargo against the U.S. and their allies in a show of strength against them. Knowing they couldn’t combat them in a traditional, military sense, these nations hit the Americans where it hurt the most. Their wallets. By cutting off the main supply of oil, the import cost for the U.S. went through the roof and made the price of a barrel of oil nigh on unbearable. Anyways…

This was the basis for Mad Max; a world where fuel is a rarity and people will do anything to get heir hands on more. A world that grows ever more dark and violent as gangs carve their way through the country and terrify the general population. The gangs and the Main Force Patrol clash on the roads, bringing mayhem and destruction with them and only offering a passing glance to the safety of the people anywhere near these vehicular skirmishes.

Maxs madness comes when his friends and his family are caught in the crossfire of this long running war. Maniacal gang leader “Toecutter” (played by the terrifyingly brilliant Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his band of ultra-violent misfits gradually feel the wrath of a man who tried very hard to do the right thing by his family, his friends and the law and instead becomes the thing he feared the most. One of them. In an effort to be the good guy, Max had to become the thing he has spent his life trying to protect others from and to make sure that no one else has to go through what he has, he must do the despicable and wipe these animals off the face of the earth.

Max spends the last 20 minutes or so systematically pulling apart Toecutter’s gang in some fun and imaginative ways. Taking all of his rage out on the bikers that ruined his life, making sure they can’t do it to anyone else, Rockatansky becomes wrath incarnate as the final, maybe the film’s most famous, scene comes to an end and the credits roll we all take a breath and know we’ve just watched something special.

Made on a modest $350,000, Mad Max made millions of dollars back and not only rocketed its star and its director straight into the limelight, but made a sequel an all-but-guaranteed thing.


2] Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Budget: $4,000,000

Gross: $23,667,907

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

The turnaround from the first Mad Max making a tremendous profit to us getting a sequel wasn’t long at all. Only a couple of years after we saw Max become a one man army, we are reunited with the “Road Warrior” as he lives a lone wolf kind of life, moving across the ruined countryside searching for his next meal or his car’s next fill-up. One man alone has become one man and his dog as the world goes from a slightly recognisable dystopia to a full-on, no more law left post-apocalyptic wasteland. And with a bigger budget and some studio confidence, George Miller spent a lot of time and attention (along with his production crew, of course) crafting a world that not only looked menacing and hopeless, but one that also become the benchmark for post-apocalyptic settings for years to come. Influencing media across all forms. You can see Mad Max 2‘s DNA still seeping through as recently as films like Book of Eli and even in video games like Rage.

If Mad Max was the story of a man losing his humanity, Mad Max 2, sometimes subtitled “The Road Warrior” is the story of how that same jaded soul finds a reason to dig deep and find some compassion as the film takes a page or two from almost every western ever made and has Mel Gibson’s leading man protecting a settlement from leather and rubber clad marauders intent on stealing supplies.

The bad guys definitely get to see the majority of the film’s increased production value. There is a notable change in the aesthetic of anything that isn’t a good guy. Cars aren’t just cars, they are all heavily modified death machines with a Death Race look about them with gang members all leather-clad and using old tyres to make those awesome 80’s shoulder pads. The film’s critically acclaimed costume design begins with lead baddie, “The Humungus”, a terrifying individual who wears a hockey mask, an uncomfortable looking pair of pants and a bizarre S&M harness and it pretty much ends with his lieutenant, Wez. Wez is a mohawked psychopath who terrifies the populace in arseless chaps! Ok, so maybe it’s not the greatest costume design ever, but for its time it’s a spectacular vision of the near future and more than 30 years later it still holds up as one of the best original post-apocalyptic films ever made.

Widely lauded as the best of the trilogy, Mad Max 2 still holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has a thoroughly well deserved cult status amongst film lovers across the world. An amazing sequel that turns the original’s formula on its head by switching tension building drama for telling it’s story through its action sequences. If Road Warrior has a flaw, it’s that one of the greatest action films ever made somehow spawned…


3] Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Budget: $12,000,000

Gross: $36,230,219

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

The problem with Mad Max 3 isn’t that it’s bad. It kind of is, but that’s not its biggest issue. Beyond Thunderdome‘s main issues come from the fact that it simply tried too damn hard. It tried to be bigger and better than Road Warrior and not only falls short, it stumbles almost immediately and never quite picks itself up.

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome can only really be described as silly. Its premise is a good one but it’s poorly executed. The idea that 25 years after the events of the second film society would have learned to build themselves into little communities that have learn to NOT kill each other is a great one. Power struggles and the fight for the fuel that must have surely run out by now should add nothing but tension but it just plays out as daft. Ok, so they worked out how to get fuel into their film and added a pig crap methane factory thing that produces the energy for the Tina Turner controlled “Bartertown”, but it doesn’t explain how a dude that lives in a little area in the desert that’s surprisingly reminiscent of the house Luke Skywalker lives in on Tatooine has a plane that never runs out of fuel.

Even the film’s titular battle arena disappoints. Thunderdome is a giant cage, built to house two people who fight to the death. But it comes off as ridiculous when the men are attached to giant elastic ropes and forced to bounce around the giant birdcage like a pair of rubbish Cirque Du Soleil performers who have had one too many alco-pops!

Everything from production to story has gone down the tubes! Costumes have gone from looking like they were actually scavenged by the people wearing them to looking far too clean and precisely cut (I’m of course forgetting the buttless trousers) and the story forgoes the brutality of its predecessors and instead somehow turns into a slightly more violent version of Hook, right down to the silly looking Lost Boys.

Mad Max 3 falls into the same pit as so many third instalments. It tries way too hard to prove itself relevant and simply falls flat. If Mad Max 2 is the film that all the post-apocalyptic movies since have tried to be, Beyond Thunderdome is the film they have tried hard not to be compared to. Not only is it the poorest of the trilogy, it’s easily the one to have fared the worst against the test of time.

And that can only leave us with…


4] Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Budget: $150,000,000

Gross: –

Rotten Tomatoes Score: –

30 years since the last film and 15 years since the movie was officially green lit by Warner Brothers, George Miller returns to the wasteland with Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy will be taking the title role, joined by Charlize Theron as we return to the desolate world that has been influencing Hollywood for almost four decades.
Only time will tell if Miller and his new star can relight the fire that Thunderdome kicked sand all over.


Fury Road will be released in UK cinemas on 14th May 2015. Brooker will be back to review it for the site soon after, and you’ll be able to hear our podcast review some days later.

EDIT: AND YOU CAN NOW READ BROOKER’S REVIEW OF MAD MAX: FURY ROAD ON THE WEBSITE!

US Box Office Report: 24/04/15 – 26/04/15

The Age of Adeline is not upon us, Little Boy makes child-sized money… basically, filmgoers opted to not see the crap that came out this week, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

…look, nothing came out this week.  It’s the weekend before The Avengers, or it is the weekend of The Avengers if you live in the specially designated half of the world, and every movie studio worth their salt knows that you release jack in the week before and after that Galactus-sized money-hoover.  After all, what’s the point when The Avengers will just swallow up any and all potential revenue for your film near-immediately?  This does make me question why Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 are opening two weeks after instead of three to make absolutely certain that they can bank a nice amount of cash… but, then, I’m not the guy who has to deal with the utterly ridiculous Summer 2015 release schedule, so what do I know?

In fact, side note: can 2015 just end after the weekend of May 15th?  Like, just stop and move onto 2016?  I’m seeing Mad Max: Fury Road and, more importantly, Pitch Perfect 2 on the same day with the bestest and closest friend I have, who’s also staying for the weekend.  The year’s not going to get any better than that, it may as well just pack up and go home.  Anyways…

So, since nothing came out, audiences decided to take one last ride with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and the whole gang before The Avengers supplants the “surrogate family”-driven film fix that we all so desperately crave.  Furious 7 held onto the top spot for the 4th weekend in a row with $18 million in ticket sales.  Close behind it – OK, about $2.5 million behind it, but that’s still way too close for me – was the excretable Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 which somehow retained 65% of its opening weekend audience and came away with $15.5 million in ticket sales.  It’s still trailing how the first Paul Blart was doing at this time by about $20 million, but that still doesn’t guarantee that we are safe from a sequel just yet.  I mean, we already got one!  I now have to go through my life in constant fear that Kevin James might force another one of these upon me!  I don’t like living in fear, you guys!

In any case, some films did come out this week.  It’s just that, like Paul Blart, they all stank to high heaven.  Widest-releasing, and therefore the one that actually charted, was The Age of Adeline, a film so confident in its construction and qualities that it actually lists one of its two screenwriters twice on its poster.  (EDIT: my good friend Jackson Tyler has informed me that it’s a WGA thing.  Still seems weird and ridiculous, mind.)  It actually beat Furious 7 on Friday, until everybody collectively realised that they could be watching good movies instead, where upon it finished the weekend in third with about $13 million in ticket sales.  Next up was Little Boy, a film that… you know what, how about I just post the Wikipedia synopsis and see how long it takes for you to realise why this film has not exactly won over the critical press…

The story centers on a 7-year-old boy, Pepper Flynt Busbee, who uses magic powers produced by his faith to end World War II and bring his father home.

yeah.  It only managed $2.8 million from 1,045 screens for a pathetic $2,708 per-screen average.  Then we have Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner.  Despite, according to himself, being a much more talented movie director than any other movie director alive today, because he’s been in 41 movies which means he knows more about directing than someone like Ridley Scott, nobody much seemed to care about his movie.  The film managed a meh $1.25 million from 320 screens and a sub-$4,000 per-screen average.  But, hey, at least it wasn’t Child 44!  Poor, poor Child 44.  I’d feel kinda bad for both of these films if they weren’t so uninterestingly rubbish.


furious 7 2

The age of this Full List is none of your business, you rude young man!

Box Office Results: Friday 24th April 2015 – Sunday 26th April 2015

1] Furious 7

$18,259,000 / $320,536,000

This will close having out-grossed 2014’s actual Highest Grossing Film Domestically, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and what is technically its Highest Grossing Film Domestically, American Sniper.  More importantly, this week, and this is even with Age of Ultron coming in hot, it will become the 4th highest grossing film worldwide of all-time and has a good shot of closing extremely close to The Avengers’ $1.5 billion.  Once again, if I see ANY “The Box Office Is DYING!” think-pieces this year… words have not yet been invented that can convey the strength of my response.

2] Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

$15,500,000 / $43,950,000

Now, I realise that I didn’t provide an actual professional or traditional review of this film when I subjected myself to it a few weeks back.  Some of you may wish for a second review, one that actually discusses the movie and properly conveys its various qualities and failings.  Well, you are in luck, cos I’ve got one right here for you!  Are you ready?

(*hits head on desk repeatedly for about 5 minutes*)

That’s your professional review of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

3] The Age of Adeline

$13,375,000 / NEW

Age of Ultron has already banked $201 million at the countries it managed to roll out to this past weekend.  Think it has any chance of breaking $2 billion?  Think it has any chance of breaking the $200 million opening weekend the first Avengers had in America?  All of this, I feel, depends on whether everybody agrees with Owen – who really doesn’t like it and is wrong – or myself – who finds it great but doesn’t love it like he did the first one, and is right.  Time will tell soon enough, folks.  Time will tell.

4] Home

$8,300,000 / $153,784,000

Despite being a legitimate success, Home has only just now been able to double its production budget worldwide.  Goddamn, even when they have a success, DreamWorks are still constantly teetering on the verge of oblivion!  Kung Fu Panda 3 was moved to late-January, recently, and I’m still worried that that’s going to crash and burn!  Do you see what you’re doing to me, DreamWorks?  DO YOU?!  Don’t you dare go dying on me now, ya hear!

5] Unfriended

$6,244,000 / $25,158,000

So this is apparently actually good?  Well, not if you believe the public – this has plummeted 60% between weekends – but the public wouldn’t know a good horror movie if it appeared out of nowhere and inflicted some kind of blender-based violence upon them; they mostly rejected It Follows, after all.  According to critics and horror fans, this is apparently rather good.  Huh, colour me surprised.  I’ll know for certain, in any case, when I subject Lucy to it this coming Friday.

6] Ex Machina

$5,441,000 / $6,920,000

Oh, yeah, this movie!  This actually expanded nationwide after a string of strong reviews and a fantastic pair of limited release weekends, so for a hard sci-fi with next-to-no real advertising behind it and only critical and art-house buzz this is a really good performance!  Yay for Alex Garland!  I don’t love this film like everyone else – mainly because, in typical Alex Garland fashion, he drops the ball on the ending, and there are a few structural choices that undermine its strongest thematic through-line – but I’m happy to see him do well.

7] The Longest Ride

$4,365,000 / $30,398,000

This has now done better than The Best (THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST) of Me, but is still one of the lowest-grossing Nicholas Sparks adaptations ever.  Can we finally put this guy’s brand/schtick out to pasture now?  Please?

8] Get Hard

$3,905,000 / $84,066,000

Because I know that some of you are curious: “Lucy” is Lucy Meer, my co-host of Screen 1, Monday nights at 9PM BST on Hullfire Radio.  The fact that you don’t know that means that you don’t listen, and that fact hurts my feelings.

9] Monkey Kingdom

$3,551,000 / $10,258,000

Monkeys are amazing.  That is all.

10] Woman In Gold

$3,501,000 / $21,635,000

The Voices is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from all good video shops on July 27th.

Dropped Out: Insurgent, Cinderella

Callum Petch can’t read about it, burns the skin from his eyes.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

The Expendables 3: The Indispensables

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

expendables 3 5It’s fair to say that I’m a self-confessed action film nut. Give me a free 90 minutes and any Jean-Claude Van Damme movie and I’ll smile and say “thanks very much”. It may be no surprise to learn then that I am also a Stallone fan; and with that, a fan of the Expendables franchise. Simon West’s light-hearted but immensely fun sequel to the more serious original (which was written by, directed by and starred Sylvester Stallone) is one of my favourite modern popcorn munching action movies.

Thursday saw the release of the third entry into Sylvester Stallone’s modern action franchise, the succinctly named, The Expendables 3. Whilst overall it’s perhaps not as impressive – in terms of critical success and box office success – as either of his Rambo or Rocky films of decades past, they do feature an impressive cast of 80’s and 90’s heroes as long as the protruding big blue veins in his large muscular arms. Amongst whom returning to Stallone’s side as he stops the latest megalomaniac (an incredibly intense Mel Gibson), are familiar faces such as the arse-kicking Jason Statham, knife-sharpening giant Dolph Lundgren and cigar-chomping Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus, a load of other recognisable members such as Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Jet Li pop up here and there.

Joining them are a bunch of young whippersnappers (Glen Powell, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz) whose careers are only just beginning. Whilst at the other end of the experience scale sees notable newcomers Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford and Kelsey Grammer join the crew. If nothing else, it shows how far the series has come when it can attract stars such as Gibson and Ford, as opposed to the early incarnations with the likes of Steve Austin and Mickey Rourke taking top billing.

However, a review of The Expendables 3 this is not. For that, check out Callum’s review from this weekend! Instead, I’m pitting the original Expendables cast against the latest big name additions. One film each, best of 5, let’s see who’s indispensable to the series and who is expendable.

expendables 3 4


1. Jason Statham vs Wesley Snipes – Crank vs Demolition Man

Often seen throughout this second sequel squaring up to each other with their knife skills (and knife puns) on display, they are arguably the two actors who have the most on-screen chemistry with our chief protagonist, ol’ Sly Stallone. But who has been in  the best action movie? Crank is an exhilarating non-stop self-aware adrenaline-junkie of a movie. The entire cast appear to be pumping energy drinks directly into their bloodstream. None more so of course than The Stath, spending the duration of the movie keeping his adrenaline flowing in every possible way you can think of. But what about Snipes? Demolition Man, released at a transitional time for action movies from the over-the-top kill-em-all era of the 80’s to the smarter, cooler 90’s, is everything Expendables wants to homage. Snipes’ charisma may be mostly responsible for why this movie is still so enjoyable, but let’s face it, it’s no Crank.

Originals 1 – 0 Newcomers

predator2. Arnold Schwarzenegger vs Mel Gibson – Predator vs Mad Max

To many, this won’t even be a debate. Arnie is arguably the greatest action hero we have ever seen. A genre is defined by his mere presence thanks to movies such as Terminator 2, True Lies, Total Recall and indeed the Vietnam jungle survivalist sci-fi horror, Predator. If the debate was “who is better in The Expendables 3“, then sugar-tits himself Mel Gibson would walk that contest. Unfortunately for the fresh-faced post-apocalyptic Australian Max, there is no comparison. Schwarzenegger can quite literally become an elected member of the Republican party and I’ll still turn up in the cinema to see whatever film he’s starring in these days. There’s still so much good will towards him thanks to films such as this all time classic of the genre. The man is a legend. Sorry, Mel.

Originals 2 – 0 Newcomers

3. Dolph Lundgren vs Antonio Banderas – Showdown in Little Tokyo vs Desperado

Yes, yes. OK. I am aware that Rocky IV is Dolph’s most iconic film and quite possibly his best – I won’t even entertain suggestions of Masters of the Universe or The Punisher. But we all know Rocky IV isn’t an action movie, don’t we. Never mind that, Showdown in Little Tokyo is massively underrated. Lundgren is as wooden as he ever was in these early roles of his, but there are some brilliant stunts, one liners and his final showdown lives up to expectations. Is it better than anything in Desperado? Well, no. That would be silly. Banderas is the epitome of cool in the film that really propelled him into the English-speaking public’s conscious. The direction from Robert Rodriguez is excessive, unrelenting and fantastic; Banderas is absolutely perfect as the sexy, dark and mysterious mariachi. Not only does he steal the show in the third act of The Expendables 3, he’s stealing a point for the newcomers.

Originals 2 – 1 Newcomers

4. Randy Couture vs Kelsey Grammer – Hijacked vs Transformers: Age of Extinction

Oh, boy. This is a close one for all the wrong reasons. Whilst you’d think the odds would be stacked against Grammer given the best action films he’s featured in outside of The Expendables 3 are directed by Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand) and Michael Bay (Trans4mers), it should be a cake-walk for his opposite number. But looking at the best films Couture has starred in, one appalling The Mummy spin-off (The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior) and a straight to video revenge movie where he’s out-shined by a 5 minute Vinnie Jones cameo (Hijacked), it’s not all that straight-forward. At least Grammer was entertaining in some rather average movies. The comeback is on!

Originals 2 – 2 Newcomersindiana jones

5. Sylvester Stallone vs Harrison Ford – First Blood vs Raiders of the Lost Ark

Oh, boy. This is a close one for all the right reasons. Saving the best ’til last was meant to make this challenge easier. Instead what I’m looking at is two of Hollywood’s legends, famed more for what they bring to the screen besides what is traditionally considered “great acting”, both duking it out until the 12th round. They have a swagger, a deserved arrogance, something unquantifiable that makes them both the iconic and charismatic performers we know them as today. Comparing First Blood (the beginning of the Rambo franchise and an action movie with real emotional depth) with Raiders of the Lost Ark (the beginning of the Indiana Jones franchise and an action movie with sophistication and undeniable amusement) is just as tough. Of the two, just edging it for me would probably be First Blood. I make no apologies for this either. As good as Indy is, he’s stilla nerd isn’t he? Rambo is just.. better.

Originals 3 – 2 Newcomers


And that’s the end of that! It seems the newcomers made a valiant effort but it’s the originals that have come out on top. We can only hope that if Jackie Chan, Nic Cage, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kurt Russell and Vin Diesel turn up in The Expendables 4, things might go a bit differently in the rematch!

Do you agree? Are you outraged by this outcome? Leave a comment below and wind Owen up.