With the start of another month comes yet another set of films ready to be released on DVD and Blu-ray. Among October’s selections are some truly exhilirating thrill rides as well as a heartwarming tale or two.
Mad Max: Fury Road
As far as post-apocalyptic nightmare scenarios go, being held captive in a desert wasteland by a tribe of psychotic, Valhalla-aspiring zealots – led by a tyrannical and equally psychotic warlord –is a pretty nasty one. For a group of five women, claimed as Immortan Joe’s ‘wives’, escape is the only option; and when that escape is offered in the form of hard-bitten lieutenant Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), tortured drifter Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), and an eighteen-wheel war rig laden with spikes, skulls and battering rams, you’d be wise to take it. Ostensibly an extended chase sequence spanning hundreds of miles of sand and vehicular carnage, Mad Max: Fury Road is nonetheless something far more remarkable than its surface stylings of ultra-masculine thrill and destruction. Not only is this film lightning in a bottle, but it is also – believe it or not – the closest that Hollywood cinema has gotten in this day and age to producing a female-led, entirely feminist blockbuster.
Despite the film sharing his name/general outlook in its title, Mad Max is not about Max. Rather, Max – a grieving soul about as broken as any other male character in the film – is used as a conduit for Theron’s Furiosa, a towering personality who drives the narrative of the film single-handedly (again, quite-literally), and who is faster, tougher, and entirely more sane than the male hordes she escapes from. Her strength is fierce and impressive – she flouts the tenets of this crazed male society in staging a prison break, before going on to outmanoeuvre the legions of gear-head zealots that pursue her and, ultimately, acceding to a position of leadership that she was always destined for. Max, on the other hand, is more of a tool at Furiosa’s disposal. On top of this narrative excellence, Fury Road is a spectacle like no other. As immaculate as its formal aspects are – the score and cinematography alone are enough to propel this film into outer space – they pale in comparison to the sheer presence of the world in Max. The wasteland is alive, and it throws endless torrents of metal, sand and fire in Furiosa’s way, a celebration of physical stunt work with a view to maximum visceral impact. As such, the film is a staggering example of blockbuster cinema, not only in the precision of its formal and physical aspects, but also as a piece of cinema genuinely subversive of the norm in its characterisation of women. Oh, what a lovely day!
Mad Max: Fury Road is available to buy from 5th October 2015* | Words: TG | Read the full review here.
San Andreas is another film to add the increasingly long list of disaster films, but in fact fails from separating itself from any of the others. While it’s visual effects are sometimes awe inspiring, it suffers from a lack of character and genuinely touching moments. We follow a helicopter pilot named ‘Ray’ played by Dwayne Johnson, (who is as charismatic as he usually is) try and reunite with his daughter during an incredible number of earthquakes and natural disasters hitting San Andreas.
As I distinctively pointed out, sometimes the visual effects are something to behold, other times…it’s scrapes the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality or even sheer effort. Obviously the artists seemed to concentrate on some moments more than others. As a disaster movie though, San Andreas is okay. If you’re a fan of this genre you’d enjoy it for sure as it delivers in aspects such as spectacle and mindless chaos. Though the film still falls down on things every film needs to have to manifest an interesting experience for the audience, meaningful characters and an embracing plot are both nowhere to be found and are completely engulfed in the consistent earthquakes and tsunamis. Then again I don’t think San Andreas was really aiming to be compelling in that sense, it’s does what it’s trying to do okay enough, which is deliver a shockingly seismic summer disaster movie with a likable main star leading you out of the rubble.
San Andreas is available to buy from 12th October 2015* | Words: LEM
Jurassic World was one of the most anticipated movies not just of the summer but of the entire year, however it’s ridiculously high gross of over 1.6 billion (one of the highest grossing films of all time) is still a shock to everyone. Jurassic World picks up 20 years after the first film, Jurassic Park has become what it was meant to be, a place of wonder with a slight change to the title name (now dubbed Jurassic World). The park is open, but it also needs new attractions every now and again to gain growth, enter the Indominus Rex, a genetically modified hybrid that escapes it’s cell. While it in no way rivals the quality of the first, definitely serves as a good addition to the franchise. What the film does well is create something new for a younger generation of audience while still keeping some nostalgic nods to the original.
The movie is sold as a full on studio blockbuster however, and lacks any real depth even though it delivers on general entertainment value. While the sparse use of practical effects was disappointing for film buffs, the CGI is more than adequate for most of the film. The I-Rex serves as an excellent ‘monster’ of a villain and isn’t really a dinosaur at all, an inspired creation nonetheless. Chris Pratt yet again shows he’s a hollywood leading man and the performances from the rest of the cast are passable at least. It’s the pay off at the end of the movie that really elevates it’s overall quality, Jurassic World serves as an enjoyable time at the cinema for the whole family but is hardly as memorable as the original.
Jurassic World is available to buy from 19th October 2015* | Words: LEM | Read the full review here.
Bill Condon’s latest movie, Mr Holmes, features a story inspired by Arthur Conan-Doyle’s infamous literary character and sees Sir Ian McKellen star as a version of Sherlock Holmes that we’ve never really seen before. Based on Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, the film depicts an aged Holmes (McKellen), who has long retired from detective work and now lives in a remote country house in Sussex. What makes the film unique in comparison to the many other Conan-Doyle inspired works currently out there, is that this Holmes is without his Watson, and instead lives with a housekeeper, Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) and her precocious young son, Roger (Milo Parker). Aged 93 and battling against the deterioration of his once brilliant mind, Holmes attempts to reflect upon his life, and in particular, the mysterious final case that somehow lead him to doubt his incredible abilities and flee from his life at Baker Street forever.
Despite Laura Linney’s god-awful attempts at an English accent, the heart of this film is shared between Holmes and Roger. The relationship that blooms between these two characters -separated by age, experience and background – is wholly heartwarming to see and shows a kindly side to Holmes that, in other adaptations, is perhaps overlooked in favour of his obstinate brilliance. McKellen also proves to be a more than apt iteration of Conan-Doyle’s infamous detective and the amount of Sherlockian easter eggs that can be found in this movie will no doubt thrill enthusiasts. It’s by no means as perfect or picturesque as it looks, and the story gets a bit lost towards the climax, but as the nights get colder, there are far worse films to sit down and get lost into.
Mr Holmes is available to buy from 26th October 2015* | Words: AH | Read the full review here.
Also out on DVD and Blu-ray this month*: Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (5th), Disney’s Descendants (5th) and Insidious: Chapter 3 (12th).
*Please note that all release dates referenced are UK only. International release dates may differ.
Words by Annie Honeyball, Tom Grantham and Levi Eddie Michael.
Feature compiled by Annie Honeyball