It’s been a very long time since my last Cinema Landscape and it’ll probably be a while until the next. However, I’m going to take the same approach I’ve been taking with my Gaming Landscape series and just write about the movies I’ve seen that I actually have something to write about and post one of these when I have enough material. So with this bit of house cleaning done, here is my Cinema Landscape as of February 16th, 2016: Hotel Transylvania 2, Sicario, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Hotel Transylvania 2 took me a bit off guard. I don’t like Adam Sandler or his films and I didn’t see the first one, but heard good things and found out Mel Brooks was in this movie. So I took a chance and watched it. The plot involves Dracula trying to prove his grandson is a vampire so his daughter and her husband will stay in the hotel. This might be my favorite Adam Sandler movie since it avoids a lot of the trappings his movies tend to have. However, as a result, this isn’t really Sandler’s film despite him being the lead. The animation and jokes are the lead and I think we can point to director Genny Tartakovsky for that. I loved his work with Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls back in the 90s but I hadn’t kept up with him. So I’m glad to see that he’s making movies now.
The movie itself has a lot of quick jokes involving either puns or physical comedy and it’s a fun time. I enjoy how all these classic monsters co-exist with each other and how they’re portrayed as being older and known by the general public to exist. All the actors give good performances and it has some great comedians such as Nick Offerman, Rob Riggle, and Andy Samberg. Mel Brooks is here too but he barely shows up first in the third act, which is disappointing. After I saw the movie, I walked away with a positive feeling. However, since then, I’ve rarely thought of the movie and I don’t remember much from it. The movie lacked any kind of lasting story or moral so I think it’s mostly nothing but unsubstantial fluff. However, it’s worth a rent as the ride is fun while it last, especially for kids.
Sicario left a lasting impression on me but not really for the right reasons. The movie is about the means in which America uses to track down drug lords in Mexico trying to spread their influence and trade across the border. The movie is mostly from the perspective of Emily Blunt’s character, Kate, who is mostly kept in the dark with what the task force she’s part of is really doing. As the movie goes on, she and the viewer slowly unveil the truth. This is one of the key problems I have with the movie. I understand that keeping the viewer in the dark is an intentional decision so that you feel as confused as she is. However, I think it’s done too well and not enough info is given to keep the viewer engaged. By the time I started to get a hold on what was going on, the movie was more than halfway over. Kate towards the end is intrigued enough to continue on and see it through, but as the viewer, I can’t say I felt the same.
Another issue I have is while I understand the message the film is conveying, I don’t think it actually has anything to contribute to the conversation. The movie shows the dirty means our country uses to stop the drug trade but it doesn’t really do anything else. The good and bad guys are fairly clear in that they are both the same shade of gray. There’s no ambiguity to the movie by the end. In fact, there’s one scene with Kate that just felt out of character for her. It actually stops the movie cold and had me wondering why this character is doing this now. I’m not saying there’s no value in just portraying what potentially goes on in situations like these and what’s shown here is depicted well. I’m just saying that this movie isn’t saying as much as it thinks it is. It’s not a bad movie but I was disappointed.
I started watching the Mad Max movies last year for the first time. I wrote about the first movie in a previous Cinema Landscape and I saw the second movie since then which I liked. However, I finally got around to the last two movies, which were Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Mad Max: Fury Road. Beyond Thunderdome has Max helping the leader of Bartertown keep the boss of the city’s power supply in check in return for his stolen belongings. Events transpire and he winds up helping a tribe of children he runs into who believe he’s a heroic captain returning to take them to a faraway land.
I couldn’t take Beyond Thunderdome seriously. Especially when I saw what the thunderdome consisted of, I was laughing out loud. It looks like they wanted to make stuntman harnesses look cool and this is what they came up with. The world as a whole feels goofier than in the previous movies. And there’s nothing wrong with that but I was less invested in the movie as a result. It doesn’t help that the second half felt like another movie that was taped onto this one. Maybe the original premise wasn’t long enough to be a full movie and they had to come up with something else in a hurry. Overall, it’s an alright movie but uneven.
Fury Road on the other hand is easily the best movie in the series and the one movie in the franchise I can say I really liked. In this movie, Max is a prisoner of the War Boys, a mega maniacal group under the rule of Immortan Joe. One of the lieutenants of the gang, Furiosa, turns on them and escapes with Joe’s wives, who were to be used for breeding. The two eventually meet, and Max agrees to help Furiosa and the girls escape. This movie is so action packed, it can be exhausting. Luckily, the intensity is shot so well, you’ll never feel lost in the chaos. Furthermore, the story, while simple, is concise and consistent and helps add levity to the action as well as provide meaningful stakes to the tension.
This is a Mad Max film in tone, action, and setting. However, the real star of this film is Charlize Theron as Furiosa. She’s a complete badass and is also the driving force for the plot. This is really a Furiosa film with Max as a side character that gives them that little extra edge they need to succeed. Don’t get me wrong. Tom Hardy does a great job as Max. It’s just that Max has like 10 lines in the whole movie. Not to say he doesn’t do anything but that’s a very small amount for a character that’s meant to be the lead. However, Nux might be my favorite character though. He switches sides rather quickly but I like his arc. Regardless, it’s an amazing film and is the best action flick in recent memory. WITNESS ME!
Aside from those films, I also saw Sleeping With Other People but just found it to be another romantic comedy with nothing to offer but its R-rating. If you’d like my immediate impressions of movies, as well as other nonsensical thoughts, follow my Twitter @Colorwind. That was my Cinema Landscape but what’s yours? What have you been watching recently? Let me know in the comment section. Peace and Love, cinephiles and movie goers. Colorwind out.