The Watchers

The Watchers

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (UK Cert 15)

Thirty years after Mel Gibson left the Thunderdome, Mad Max is back on screen, once again directed and written by franchise creator George Miller.

The apocalypse has hit. Max (Tom Hardy) is left in the wilderness and is captured by the War Boys, servants of the warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and is used as a 'blood-bag' for the weaker War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Joe rules the wastelands, even controlling the water supply for his embattled subjects. Everything is based on trade and Joe sends a convoy of fuel out to another township. However, the convoy leader Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has other ideas... with the War Boys in hot pursuit of Furiosa and her contraband cargo, Max is dragged into the chase.

What is essentially a two-hour car chase becomes something so much more thanks to some sumptuous visuals, some brilliant performances and a good dose of downright insanity. 

Furiosa is a brilliant character and played brilliantly by the ever-dependable Theron. She's not a damsel in distress (this is the kind of film where even the damsels in distress are not exactly your typical swooning female ciphers), she is the catalyst for the entire story and she certainly doesn't need Max to help her or save her. If anything, at the start, he's more of a hindrance. It's also refreshing that it doesn't lapse into a romantic relationship either. Furiosa is her own woman, from start to finish. The film has been accused of trying to sneak feminism in by the back door but, frankly, after the paper-thin insults that are the usual popcorn fodder idea of female characters (Michael Bay, I'm looking directly at you) I'm all for it. 

Hardy's performance as Max is decent enough, although his accent wanders something dreadful. Max is a solid, laconic figure, acted upon rather than acting. Hoult gives a great turn as War Boy Nux, desperate for Immortan Joe to notice him and praise him. He also forms a bond with one of Furiosa's associates that is oddly sweet. Keays-Byrne makes for a formidable enemy and it's not his first time at the rodeo- he played the villainouse Toecutter in the original Mad Max

The Namibian desert doubles for the apocalyptic wastelands of Australia and the visuals are just stunning. It's definitely worth seeing on the big screen (although not necessarily in 3D) as the desert vistas really have some scale from bleached white sunburnt sands to the cooler bluer shades of night. The convoy heading after Furiosa and her is immense and there's a really inspired (and crazy) decision to have a rig covered in drums with a guitarist- known as the Doof Warrior- to act as a kind of pace-keeper. Not only does it give rise to some of the best visuals in the entire film, it also adds a nice amount of diegetic music as the rig gets closer.

Whilst I enjoyed it a damn sight more than I expected to, I just wonder whether it needed to be a 'Mad Max' film. Max is such a peripheral character, almost a supporting character in his own film. It could have been any dystopic post-apocalyptic setting, put in a generic action hero in place of Max, retained the War Boys and the kick-ass Furiosa and had the same effect. Hell, it could have just been called 'George Miller's Fury Road'.

Despite this, it's a decent slice of entertainment with enough to satisfy the petrolheads as well as those in search of something a bit more substantial.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Monday, 4 May 2015

Comic-Book Round-Up: May 2015

So it's been a while since we did this and there's been a lot of comic book news out recently, so it's only right we have a quick (well, not so quick) round-up of the news.


A leaked trailer of the hotly-anticipated DC Universe movie precipitated an acceleration of the official version being released. The trailer does a good job of setting the scene whilst telling you virtually nothing about the film's plot. You can make out the voices of Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor) and Jeremy Irons (Alfred) in the trailer:

First look photos of Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Eisenberg as Luthor have also been released:


David Ayer's Suicide Squad movie has had its first readthrough with the director releasing this cast picture:

Alongside previously announced cast members Will Smith, Jai Courtney, Margot Robbie and Cara Delevigne, the film will feature Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (rumoured to be playing Killer Croc), Jim Parrack and Ike Barinholtz. Joel Kinnanan will take the role of Rick Flagg as Tom Hardy has had to withdraw from the movie, whilst Viola Davis is confirmed as Amanda Waller. Rapper Common has also been cast in an unspecified role.

There's one noticeable omission from this cast line-up: Jared Leto (who may have been taking the picture). However, the first picture of Leto in his Joker make-up has been released and it's pretty bloody terrifying:

Ayer has also released a full shot of Task Force X in costume:

From left to right, you have Adam Beach (Slipknot), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), Cara Delevingne (Enchantress), Karen Fukuhara (Katana), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flagg), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Will Smith (Deadshot), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Croc) and Jay Hernandez (El Diablo).

Here's a better look at Will Smith's Deadshot costume:


Sony and Marvel Studios have struck a deal to allow Spider-Man to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sony will still finance, distribute, own and have creative control of the films. Spider-Man will appear in an unspecified movie (rumoured to have been Avengers: Age Of Ultron but now likely to now be Captain America: Civil War) whilst he will get his own solo film in 2017. Kevin Feige has confirmed that this solo film will not be another origin story (thankfully) although it does look as if the role will be recast as the character will be in 'the high school years'. This is a shame because Andrew Garfield was pretty good as Spidey. Let feverish speculation over casting commence!


There's been a change of director for Gal Gadot's solo Wonder Woman film, due in 2017, as Patty Jenkins has replaced Michelle MacLaren. MacLaren left the project in mid-April citing 'creative disagreements'. Jenkins was originally due to direct Thor: The Dark World but withdrew due to 'creative differences' and was replaced by Alan Taylor.


Directors Joe and Anthony Russo will be in the driving seat(s) for Avengers: Infinity War. Joss Whedon will not be returning for the third and fourth Avengers movies, handing over the reins to the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Chris Evans has dropped a hint that he will appear in both films which will be filmed back-to-back over a period of around nine months.


Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Lana Condor and Ben Turner have all been cast as younger versions of mutants in Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse. Sheridan will play a young version of Cyclops whilst Game Of Thrones' Turner will be Jean Grey. Shipp is Storm, Smit-McPhee is taking on the role of Nightcrawler, Condor is Jubilee, and Eastenders' Turner is Angel. Lucas Till is returning as Havok and Olivia Munn will also join the cast as Psylocke.

Pictures of Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler have been released:

James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters and Nicholas Hoult will reprise their roles from X-Men: Days Of Future Past whilst Rose Byrne will also appear as Moira MacTaggert.

Producer Simon Kinberg has stated that the events of X-Men: Apocalypse will have an impact on spin-off films Gambit and Deadpool.


Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish's contribution to Ant-Man will be recognised as a dispute over screenwriting credits has now been solved. Wright was originally due to direct but left over 'creative differences' to be replaced by Peyton Reed. Adam McKay and Paul Rudd rewrote Wright and Cornish's screenplay and all four will share screenplay credit, with Wright and Cornish also receiving a 'story by' credit.


It's going to be another star-studded Marvel film as there are several cast members returning from previous films. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo and Scarlett Johansson will star opposite Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans. Elizabeth Olsen will reprise her role as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch from Avengers: Age Of Ultron while Daniel Bruhl joins the cast as Baron Zemo and Chadwick Boseman makes his first MCU appearance as Black Panther.It is widely expected that Marvel's Spider-Man will make his appearance in this film, with a casting decision due by the end of May.


Josh Brolin will return as Thanos and Karen Gillan will return as Nebula, but Lee Pace won't as Ronan is very much dead. James Gunn returns to direct with the main cast- Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista- also returning. The film is due for 2017.


Ryan Reynolds has posted a picture of himself in Deadpool's costume:

Reynolds will reprise his role from X-Men Origins: Wolverine alongside Gina Carano as Angel Dust, Morena Baccarin as Copycat, TJ Miller as Weasel, Ed Skrein as Ajax and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead (yes, really!)

The film is expected in early 2016.


Nicole Perlman (Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) have been confirmed as screenwriters for the project which is intriguingly billed as Carol Danvers' 'first solo cinematic appearance' (suggesting she may appear in an earlier Marvel film). Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain have been linked to the lead role of Carol Danvers but no official casting has been announced. 

Interestingly, both Blunt and Chastain have previously been cast in MCU films but had to withdraw. Chastain was due to play Dr. Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3 (but the role was then taken by Rebecca Hall) whilst Blunt was previously offered the roles of Black Widow and then Peggy Carter but had to turn them down due to scheduling.