Mad Max: Fury Road (3D)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) by George Miller

madmax1

I had no intention of watching this movie. It interested me about as much as watching snails mate before someone dropped the f-word. And by f-word I mean feminist, a feminist Mad Max-movie.

madmax2But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s what it’s about:

Mad Max (Tom Hardy) lives in a post-apocalyptic world and every day’s a struggle. He’s captured and used as blood donor for the cancer-ridden Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a warrior for the great Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). When Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) escapes with his whole harem of breeders (among them Zoe Kravitz), Immortan Joe and his posse take to the Fury Road to get back his property. A mad battle over freedom and hope begins.

And suddenly Mad Max is not the most insane character on this odd-yssey. But I liked it. I know that I have at least watched one of the original Mad Max-movies (the third), I’m not sure about the others. I don’t remember it being so… wild, but then I only remember Tina Turner being in it, so.

I thought this was going to be just another one of those dick flicks, male heroism-laden, totally FURY ROADboring and interchangeable movies that we all have watched a million times. It was not, at least not on all these counts. But we should be real here, it’s not anything great or surprisingly innovative. It’s very good entertainment, you’ll not be bored. You’ll see stuff explode, and car chases, and disgustingly violent things happening, all the things you would expect from a movie like this. There’s some humor randomly added, a little love story that doesn’t take up too much time or space.

Is it a feminist film, though? I would agree with Charlize Theron that it is not, but for different reasons. Post-apocalyptic worlds usually mean that there’s need for offspring. Thus women are being held captive, forced to breed. Oftentimes they’re being raped, or make that all the time since their autonomy over their bodies is taken, period. And this is where Miller starts his tale and tries to right this wrong. This is surprising. The story follows a couple of women who try to escape their circumstances and get unexpected help from a stranger who is on his path to redemption.

madmax3While the focus on the women is surprising, there is no way Miller could make them equal to Max. He needed a female hero as well, and this is Imperator Furiosa. A woman who has gone through the same hardship as the girls she’s trying to save. And she is presented as an equal to Max. While his (mental) disability isn’t visible, hers is: she’s missing part of her left arm. But she’s a fighter and a no-nonsense hero. She does what is necessary to get the women to where she came from, to where she was taken from. As this is post-apocalyptic, this home away from male domination isn’t all it was supposed to be.

Furiosa is equal to Max, in this you could say it’s actually feminist. If you look at any other characters, though, you see that it does not extend beyond the heroes. The matriarchal clan Furiosa came from is down to a handful of women who resort to killing men because they can’t trust them. The women at the citadel are used as breeders or as providers of milk and care takers. And if you look at mere numbers, well, men everywhere, fighting, dying, rocking FURY ROADout to the sound of their own deaths. Male dominance is very much alive.

Still, some men complain over the female-centric plot, over the fact that Max is not the single hero. Check you priviledge, guys. If you don’t like it, watch one of the gazillion films that’s been made about your entitlement and shut the fuck up.

Divergent

 

Divergent (2014) by Neil Burger

divergent-ticket

Let me start by saying: I haven’t read the books (yet). They’re somewhere on that long list of want-to-read books I hope to get to in the future and watching the movie certainly pushed them up quite a bit.

divergent1

I’m intrigued by the concept of the story. But I’m also a little confused. Let’s look at the plot:

In a not too distant future in post-war Chicago, society is being sorted into five factions. When Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is tested for the special virtue that will decide which faction she might best fit in, she finds out that she’s divergent – she possesses multiple virtues which means she might not fit in anywhere.

Divergents are considered dangerous in the society she lives in and changes within the government lead to the systematic prosecution of divergents. Beatrice must learn to hide in her chosen faction to avoid detection. But hiding ceases to be an option when her parents’ faction becomes the target of a vicious attack.

divergent3

I guess it’s a little like getting into Hogwarts and being sorted into houses by virtue but then, of course, it’s not like the Harry Potter-series at all. There’s no magic, there’s technology. Nobody has a super power and having multiple virtues can actually paralyze the bearer.

As I said, the concept is certainly intriguing, but having only watched the movie, I feel that it was not able to convey the layers of the complex social system that lies beneath the story – at least I hope that something like this exists in the books.  Thus the movie left me a little restless to find out more – which is not bad in itself, it just makes the movie a bit dissatisfying.

divergent4

Something that cannot be said about the acting. To be sure, I watched the movie because of Kate Winslet. She is a singular reason that never fails to attract me and she’s amazing, and amazingly evil. I love her character, I love how she protrays her – and I love that I can usually trust Kate to star in watchable movies that rarely disappoint. The star of the movie, Shailene Woodley, doesn’t either. She’s vibrant, she’s a good actress, and it’s actually a little disconcerting how much she reminds me of a younger Kate Winslet. It was good to see Ashley Judd again – even in a rather small role, she certainly made an impression. The same goes for Zoe Kravitz and Mekhi Phifer.

I liked this movie, and not just because of the great casting choices. It’s interesting, smart, has great pacing. Beside the fact that I felt a little left out of the loop where background was concerned (I’m aware that the medium does not allow for delving into it too much or the pace would suffer), I feel that I could have done with less of the love story between Tris (Beatrice changes her name to Tris after chosing a new faction) and Four (Theo James). Some of the dialogue in these scenes was also rather corny. But apart from that it’s certainy watchable and I’m looking forward to reading the books and then (maybe) come back for the second film of the series.

divergent-poster

X-Men: First Class – a coming-out story

X-Men: First Class (2011) by Matthew Vaughn

It has probably the worst title addition ever (surprisingly enough the additional title of First Class and the German one, Erste Entscheidung, are equally silly, that is a first… usually the German title and addition are much worse than the English ones), but that is no reason not to watch it. I think in my life there is actually only one reason I would not watch a film for: if I don’t like any actor/acress in it. What can I say, I am a judgemental bitch (I actually would like to propose boycots on some actors but that would call for actual active and political engagement on my part and I am not that interested, really).

Luckily for me, you don’t need much background information. Since I had watched the first two movies and the Wolverine-movie, I had some of that which means, I remembered Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s characters and that was enough preparation (for those, who hope for an in-depth comparison of comic and film or anything like it: sorry, haven’t read the comics, never will).

Well, it is not a new story: there are mutants, they are different, they are hiding but then the world needs them to prevent a nuclear war (same old, same old). After they have done that the former allies turn on the mutants because they are different. They want to destroy them but that backfires, because… hello!.. THEY ARE MUTANTS! So much for the plot.

Yeah, okay, I oversimplified because there are actually bad mutants and good mutants and there’s also another fight going on between them but, hey, I am a simple kinda… person. So, what with all that hiding and being discriminated against-stuff that is going on, people have suggested that X-Men is really a coming-out story. And, yeah, I mean, great metaphor and all. Do I believe that the mutants are actually all gay? No, but wouldn’t it be fun if they were? Also, I do believe that homos are more evolved than heteros (you just have to look at hetero couples on the street to know that)… we are the next step, people, no wonder everybody is freaking out. So, this part of the story hit home.

Am I being a little sarcastic, here? Yes, so put the stakes away again. I don’t think that any human being is particularly evolved. We are all f**ked up. But I do think that we should all have the same opportunities and rights – but that is just not happening, so it is nice to IMAGINE that we could be better than y’all folks…

And I do think that Emma Frost would be a wonderful addition to our team… Kevin Bacon, well, I love his wife but that’s another story. In all, there is not much to talk about. It is not extraordinary movie-making we are meeting here. I enjoyed the movie, yes, but it falls in line with other forgettable movies. In fact, I have already moved on from watching it last week and can hardly remember anything now. What I remember, is this: it looked good! I love the 60s look of the whole thing and that we get to experience on different continents and to different nationalities. Very nice. Yet, with the 60s looks comes the 60s sexism and no matter how evolved even mutants indulge in that one. Ouch!

Then, I remember the silliest one gesture that a character has accomplished since Picard:

And… Rose Byrne. I don’t even remember where I know her from but has she ever been this hot before?

Also, the German that was being spoken was without grammatical errors which is a rare occasion but everybody supposedly German had a thick accent of some kind… in their German. Just cast German actors next time, maybe?