Tag Archive: Mad Max: Fury Road

There have been a number of video game adaptations over the years, but no film has truly embraced the first-person gaming experience quite like Hardcore Henry. This may technically be classified as a film, but this is essentially a video game through and through, with the only difference being that you don’t need a controller to experience it. Shot entirely in the first-person perspective using mounted GoPro cameras, the audience sees everything through the eyes of our protagonist Henry. It’s a unique way to shoot an entire action movie and director Ilya Naishuller is sporadically successful with his gimmicky premise. It may have its problems, but this is ultimately a rollercoaster ride that you can experience at your local multiplex.

The film begins with Henry waking up inside a high-tech laboratory, having survived a terrible accident. His wife (Haley Bennett) is a scientist who brought him back from the brink of death, giving Henry a robotic arm and leg. But shortly after Henry awakens, the laboratory is attacked by Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a villain with telekinetic powers who hopes to create an army of mercenaries similar to Henry. Henry is able to escape from Akan’s clutches, but his wife is taken prisoner. With the help of a mysterious individual named Jmmy (Sharlto Copley), Henry is on a mission to find his wife and he’ll destroy anything and anyone who gets in his way.

Similar to last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Hardcore Henry is essentially nonstop action from start to finish. Its first-person perspective creates a unique twist on the genre and it’s often interesting to see how it’s used. It works best when Henry is engaging in gunfights, particularly in one sequence where Henry is attempting to sneak through a building. These moments where Henry is utilizing firearms truly feel like a first-person shooter videogame and it’s fun to see how these elements translate to a motion picture. A parkour chase scene is also pretty well done, as is an awesome sequence involving Henry jumping from a motorcycle onto a mercenary’s van. But it’s the hand-to-hand combat where the first-person perspective falls apart. The camera moves around way too hectically, making the action difficult to follow and giving viewers a headache in the process.

This might be a nonstop action thrill ride, but don’t for a second think that I’m putting this on the same level as Mad Max: Fury Road. While that film had characters and a story that worked well alongside the action, the characters and story here are pretty terrible. Henry’s wife works as plot motivation and nothing more, while Akan is a lame villain with telekinetic powers which are used so sparingly that it’s a wonder why they were included at all. The only character that stands out is Sharlto Copley’s Jimmy, who is both funny and intriguing. Copley’s performance is actually pretty good and it’s a joy whenever Jimmy appears on screen. The story is pretty barebones as well, but all of these problems do seem to match the videogame aesthetic that the film is trying to achieve.

If Hardcore Henry wanted to be really ambitious, it could have tried to appear to play out in real time, with all of its cuts hidden from the audience. This would have made sense considering how the normal person doesn’t experience lapses in time throughout their day. It probably would have been nearly impossible to achieve this with the amount of action in the film, but the film could have been a new action classic if they somehow managed to pull it off. As it stands, Naishuller does an adequate job turning this premise into a feature, although perhaps a short film would have been more effective. But even though it might feel a little too long, this is still a crazy ride, filled with ridiculous action and over-the-top levels of violence. Buckle up.

Hardcore Henry receives 2.5/4


My 2016 Oscar Predictions

Oscars 2016 Collage

I love Oscar season. Even though these awards really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a lot of fun following the race and trying to predict who will win. Most years have a clear front-runner for best picture, but this year’s Oscar race actually have three films leading the pack. The Revenant won the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and the DGA award, Spotlight won the Critic’s Choice and SAG awards and The Big Short won the Producer’s Guild award. This is all leading up to an exciting ceremony that could actually surprise for once. But if there aren’t a lot of surprises, I have to say that I’m pretty confident in my predictions. Don’t forget to watches the Oscars this Sunday and check out my predictions after the jump!

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The Film Hound’s 2015 Year End Awards

Best of 2015 Collage

The Oscars are this Sunday, which means another night of me yelling at my television when the Academy inevitably awards the wrong movies. But this blog gives me the perfect opportunity to honor those that I believe are truly worthy of a gold statue. While this may not be quite as prestigious as the Academy Awards, it’s a great way for me to honor the best in film from 2015. This year even features the new category of Best New Character! So without further ado, I present to you the 3rd annual Film Hound Year End Awards! Check them out after the jump and let me know what you think!

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My Top Ten Films of 2015

My Top Ten Films of 2015 Collage

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Carol, The End of the Tour, Ex-Machina, The Gift, Love & Mercy, Macbeth, Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Peanuts Movie, Queen of Earth, The Revenant, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Spring, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Tangerine


  1. It Follows – Not only is David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore feature the best horror film of the year, it’s also the best horror film of the decade so far. John Carpenter influences abound, from the sneakily sinister score to the frightening portrayal of Midwest suburbia, but this is still very much its own thing. This unique premise of a supernatural virus that can only be passed through intercourse is not only a cautionary warning for young teenagers, but it’s also a clever examination of the loss of youth. Mitchell has crafted something truly refreshing that stands out from typical horror fare that we’re usually subjected to throughout the year.


  1. Creed – Sylvester Stallone is the heart and soul of the Rocky franchise, but having another film with him in the ring would have been pretty ridiculous. But by having Rocky act as the trainer to Apollo Creed’s son, they’ve effectively passed the franchise off to an entirely new generation of film fans. For some younger viewers, this could very well be their first Rockyfilm, so it’s a good thing that Creedis a fantastic addition to the franchise. The basic story here is pretty formulaic stuff, but it’s the strong direction from Ryan Coogler and fantastic performances from Stallone and Michael B. Jordan that elevates this above typical boxing fare. Even casual fans of the Rocky franchise will find themselves tearing up at this truly inspiring film.


  1. Spotlight – Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is a thorough and realistic portrayal of how the Boston Globe uncovered the Catholic priest child molestation scandal. A great screenplay and understated direction keep you truly engaged in the investigation, but it’s the incredible performances that really elevate the material. And the final seconds of the film are absolutely phenomenal, ending on such a dark note that will have audiences shaking as they leave the theater. People may tell you that this is an important film and while that sounds cliché, it’s absolutely true. When we read about stories like this one in the paper, we rarely hear about the extensive amount of reporting and research that brought out the truth. You may think you know the story, but Spotlight places this scandal in a whole new light.


  1. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence – If there’s one film on this list that you’ve never heard of before, it has to be this one. This Swedish film from director Roy Anderson is a darkly funny look at the bizarre mundanity of life. Told through a series of loosely connected vignettes, Anderson gives us a look at how painfully ordinary life can be. A pair salesman unsuccessfully try to sell a string of lame products, a man dies trying to open a bottle of wine, a Captain arrives to a meeting at the wrong time etc. etc. When the film dips into the absurd and the profound, it feels completely earned and will resonate long after the final credits have rolled. With a camera that remains almost completely static throughout the entire film, unique blocking and intentionally dull set design, this probably the most unique film to come out in 2015. If you watch in the right mood, it’ll work wonders on you.


  1. The Martian – Space films have lately seen a resurgence and The Martian stands as one of the best examples in recent years. This story of stranded astronaut Mark Watney is a hugely entertaining and uplifting crowd-pleaser that shows how the fate of a single man can bring so many people together. Matt Damon is great in the lead role and he gives Watney a playful and cocky personality that perfectly fits with the film’s light tone. But what I loved most about the film was its overwhelming optimism. Entire countries put aside their differences in order to work together and bring one man home. There’s not an ounce of cynicism or hatred anywhere to be found, just the entire world uniting around the universal will to survive. Director Ridley Scott has made some sci-fi films that exist solely for genre fans, but The Martianis a sci-fi film for everyone.


  1. Mistress America – In the last five years alone, Noah Baumbach has made three films with Greta Gerwig and they just seem to get better and better. Mistress America might just be their best film to date. It’s a zany, screwball comedy with an eclectic cast of characters and a warm heart at its center. Consistent laughs abound and the third act of its fantastic screenplay culminates in one of the best comedic set pieces in ages. And while it may come in at a disappointingly short 84 minutes, it’s better to leave audiences wanting more than to have a film overstay its welcome. Easily the funniest film of the year.


  1. Sicario – From its opening sequence all the way to its stunning conclusion, Sicariois packed to the brim with tension. Director Denis Villeneuve stacks fantastic sequence upon fantastic sequence and somehow the film continually manages to top itself. Whether it’s the opening house raid, the terrifying trek across the Mexican border or the climactic moments in a drug-smuggling tunnel, it’s clear that the war on drugs has danger lurking around every corner. Here the Mexican border is presented as sheer chaos, with bad people on both sides of the line who are fighting for their own selfish needs. With an intriguing script from first-time writer Taylor Sheridan and absolutely stunning cinematography from industry veteran Roger Deakins, this is another homerun for Villeneuve.


  1. The Hateful Eight – I know that this is a bit of a cliché, but I really think that Quentin Tarantino is one of our greatest living filmmakers.  I love his characters, his trademark dialogue and his over-the-top violence. If I had to pick one director today whose sensibilities seemingly fall right in line with mine, Mr. Tarantino would be very close to the top of that list. And while The Hateful Eight is certainly not his best film, it still works as an excellent showcase for all of Tarantino’s classic trademarks. With the majority of the film’s runtime taking place inside a small lodge, this feels more like a single location stage play than most of Tarantino’s past works. But this works to the film’s benefit because we get to spend more time with the characters, learning about their personalities and further enhancing the mystery that permeates the film. Even if the film provides viewers with a  harsh outlook on humanity, its final moments optimistically suggest that even the most absolute of enemies can one day peacefully find some common ground.


  1. Steve Jobs – Since his death in 2011, a number of films have been released chronicling the life of Steve Jobs, but this year’s Steve Jobswill surely be viewed as the de facto Jobs biopic. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has cooked up one of the best screenplays in years, managing to showcase the tech guru at his best and worst. The screenplay takes a risky, but wholly original structure, only giving us glimpses into three distinct moments in Jobs’s life. Adding to the exhilaration is director Danny Boyle, who brings his usual energy and flair to pump up the film. One of the most interesting directorial choices that Boyle made was the decision to shoot each time period on a different format (16mm for 1984, 35mm for 1988 and digital for 1998). This feels like the kind of perfectionist decision that Jobs would have approved of and it only further helps to emphasize the development of Jobs and Apple throughout the film. Playing the often maligned CEO, Michael Fassbender hits a homerun, as do his supporting cast which includes Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. From the visuals, to the kinetic energy, to the unique structure, Steve Jobsscores in every department. This is truly one of the greatest biopics in recent memory.


  1. Mad Max: Fury Road – When I saw the fourth entry in the Mad Max franchise back in May, I would have never predicted that it would end up being my favorite film of 2015, but yet here we are. This is the action movie to end all action movies. At 70 years old, director George Miller puts to shame every action movie that’s attempted to recreate the aesthetic that he created back in 1979 with the original Mad Max. This is such a brutal, breathless and beautiful film that it’s hard to imagine it came from the same guy behind Babe and Happy Feet. During a time when action films constantly feel the need to overly complicate things with too much plot and too many characters, Fury Roadis refreshingly simple. The entire plot – beginning to end – could be summed up and written on the back of a napkin and I mean that in the best possible way. Here’s a film that trims the fat, leaving in the only thing that truly matters: the action. It’s not often that a nihilistic genre film can stand head and shoulders above all the prestige pictures that studios release throughout the year, but when I think of 2015 in film, only two words come to mind: Fury Road. The best film of the year.

The Mad Max franchise is a strange beast. The name is recognizable to most, but it seems like the original trilogy of films never received the widespread popularity of other franchises. Part of this could be due to the fact that there hasn’t been a new entry in the franchise for exactly 30 years. It’s certainly been a long wait for a sequel, but maybe now George Miller’s franchise will receive more recognition with mainstream audiences. The franchise certainly deserves it because not only is Mad Max: Fury Road the best entry in the series yet, it’s also one of the best action films to come out in quite some time. With his fourth entry in the Mad Max saga, George Miller has created the post-apocalyptic film to end all post-apocalyptic films. It’s brutal, breathless, beautiful and the breath of fresh air that recent summer blockbusters so desperately needed.

Max (Tom Hardy) is surviving on his own in the desolate wasteland of the future. One day, he is abducted by a group of goons who work for King Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the ruthless leader of a desolate civilization. Max is used as a human blood bag for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of Joe’s sick soldiers. As Max is hooked up to an IV, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads a convoy away from Joe’s compound in search of gasoline. But Furiosa diverges from her scheduled course and Joe soon realizes that Furiosa has stolen every single one of his wives that he uses for breeding. Joe sends out a party to retrieve them, including Nux and his human blood bag.

This quickly establishes a chase after Furiosa that lasts throughout the entire film and sets up the first major action sequence in a film filled with major action sequences. As Nux barrels down the desert landscape with a convoy of Joe’s henchmen, he has Max tied to the front of his vehicle with an IV connecting the two. It’s a striking visual that’s complemented by John Seale’s gorgeously bleak cinematography and the out-of-this-world production design by Colin Gibson. In fact, the production design, makeup and costuming might be some of the greatest aspects of the film. Every character, every vehicle and every prop looks completely unique but manages to fit perfectly into the nihilistic aesthetic.

But it’s the action that’s bound to get people excited and, oh baby, this is what I call action. Other than a few brief moments of calm amongst the insanity, this is non-stop action from start to finish. George Miller may be 70, but he’s proven that directing two Happy Feet films hasn’t softened him in the slightest. From the intense and extended opening chase, to the three way fight between Max, Furiosa and Nux, to nighttime race to get unstuck from a wetland, to the final climactic moments, Fury Road is visceral and incredibly well directed. In essence, every action sequence in the film is essentially the same (they’re all car chases through the desert), but Miller puts just enough finesse on each scene to make it feel unique and prevent the bombastic chaos from ever becoming mind numbing. Even more amazing is how real all the effects look. CGI is used minimally and this provides a far more realistic experience than computers ever could. You know that when there is car crash, Miller and company actually crashed a car.

This is the first Mad Max film without Mel Gibson in the title role, but thankfully Tom Hardy makes an awesome replacement. Hardy captures the essence of the silent hero that Gibson perfected in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and he also manages to look awesome in the role while doing so. Hardy has continued to churn out great work ever since his breakout role in Inception, but he’s yet to become a household name. His performance here proves that he deserves to be the next great action star. As the film’s main villain, Hugh Keays-Byrne takes what could have been a somewhat underwhelming character and transforms him into an intimidating, over-the-top antagonist. Nicholas Hoult is fine as Nux, but a decision that his character makes halfway through the film feels very underdeveloped and doesn’t make a lot of sense given everything that was established about his character previously. It’s the only major misstep that this film takes, but from a storytelling aspect, it’s a problem that can’t be ignored. Finally, Charlize Theron truly surprises as Furiosa, a new character who manages to hold her own right alongside Max. In fact, she’s given even more to do than our title character and proves that she’s just as much of an action hero as Max.

During a time when action films constantly feel the need to overly complicate things with too much plot and too many characters, Fury Road is refreshingly simple. The entire plot – beginning to end – could be summed up and written on the back of a napkin and I mean that in the best possible way. Here’s a film that trims the fat, leaving in the only thing that truly matters in this type of film: the action. This franchise may not have the popularity among young people that is usually needed to generate a hit, but hopefully positive word of mouth will spread, because anyone who misses this movie is sure to miss out on one of the highlights of the summer. Max may be mad, but I’m certainly happy to have him back.

Mad Max: Fury Road receives 3.5/4