Check the IMDB page for Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. You’ll learn that Tom Cruise clung to the outside of an Airbus A400M at an elevation of 5000 feet, held his breath for six minutes underwater and performed dangerous driving scenes all without the aid of an on-camerahttps://metronewsca.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php stuntperson.
It’s not that he is trying to break the stunt union or put anyone out of work. Instead it is Cruise’s commitment to making sure the stunts in his films have a true, palpable sense of danger to them.
Much of what we see on screen these days is computer generated, illusions made up of bits and bytes, but many of the truly eye catching images we’ve seen in movies this summer were created the old fashioned way.
Remember the “car drop” scene from Furious 7? Stunt co-ordinator (and former Knight Rider stunt driver) Jack Gill actually arranged for autos to be launched out of a C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. They shot the scene twice. First aerial photographers in parachutes followed the cars as they dove from an altitude of 12,000 feet and then again from 8000 feet to get helicopter shots. The result is a wild sequence that feels like a rollercoaster ride with real cars.
After years of “following the CG evolution,” using computer generated images to create beautiful animated films like Happy Feet and Babe: A Pig in the City, Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller says he was keen to go back to “old school” filmmaking “with real cars and real people and real desert.”
That means, unlike the Avengers and their ilk, respecting the laws of physics by using practical effects and keeping the action earthbound. In other words, in a call back to the original Max films — Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome — when a car blows up it doesn’t rocket into space. Instead it explodes spectacularly but organically. The wild action you see in Fury Road are actual stunts performed by stunt men and women and not generated by a clever computer operator in a studio. “It was like going back to your old home town and looking at it anew,” Miller says.
Nicholas Hoult, who plays Nux in Fury Road, says having the stunts performed for real added to his performance.
“Because it was all real it actually makes your job a lot easier,” he said. “Rather than being on a stage and having to pretend that things are happening around you and react to nothing, things are actually happening and your reactions are real.”
Carla Gugino says there was quite a bit of greenscreen action in her earthquake movie San Andreas, but adds director Brad Peyton “wanted to do as much in camera as possible.”
In one pivotal scene she and Dwayne Johnson are in a helicopter flying above the carnage.
“The helicopter was in a stage, on a greenscreen,” she says, “but was on a gimbal many, many feet up that literally dropped, dove and spun. We were twenty-five feet off the ground.”
“I think it makes a difference in watching the movie too. It feels much more viscerally connected.”
So filmmakers and actors love giving audiences the real deal thrill of practical effects, but how did Tom Cruise, what feel about hanging on to the side of an aircraft in full flight?
George Miller has made pigs talk and penguins tap dance. He’s been a doctor and a film director. Among the bold faced names on his resume are the titles Babe: A Pig in the City, The Witches of Eastwood, Happy Feet 1 and 2 and Lorenzo’s Oil. One name, however, looms larger than the rest.
Mad Max. Over the course of three films—Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome—he introduced the world to post apocalyptic warrior Max Rockatansky, made Mel Gibson a superstar, defined dystopian cinema for a generation or two and created the phrase, “Two men enter, one man leaves.”
This weekend, thirty years after the release of the last Mad Max movie, Miller revisits the character in Mad Max: Fury Road, a reboot starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
The seventy-year-old director, who raised money to make the first film by working as an Emergency Room Doctor, says the goal of the new movie was to make it “uniquely familiar.”
After years of “following the CG evolution,” using computer generated images to create beautiful animated films, he was keen to go back to “old school” filmmaking “with real cars and real people and real desert.” That means, unlike the Avengers and their ilk, respecting the laws of physics by using practical effects and keeping the action earthbound. In other words, in a call back to the original films, when a car blows up it doesn’t rocket into space. Instead it explodes spectacularly but organically. The wild action you see in Fury Road are actual stunts performed by stunt men and women and not generated by a clever computer operator in a studio.
“It was like going back to your old home town and looking at it anew,” he says.
Miller reveals he originally created Max’s wasteland world while practising medicine.
“I worked for two and half years in a big city hospital. I stayed registered right up past Mad Max 2: Road Warrior. I never even thought there’d be a career. I stayed as a doctor on the first Mad Max because we kept running out of money in postproduction. Then I stayed through to the second Mad Max because if you are doing stunts you are obliged to have a doctor on set. There weren’t big budgets so I ended up running a clinic during lunch time tending to cuts, sunburns, scrapes and all that.”
His two careers have much in common, he says, adding he was “was privileged with a unique point of view as a doctor.”
“I don’t think I’d be the filmmaker I am unless I had that medical education, in two very direct ways. Both of them have a lot of problem solving in there. But the most important way is that as a doctor you are looking at people in extremis from many points of view. You look inside of people. You see people during birth and death and so on. Through microscopes; a lens. So you’re looking from many, many points of view. That’s exactly what you do in cinema. Huge wide shots with massive crowds or you’re looking right down inside someone’s brain, someone’s head.”
As for plans to make another Mad Max right away, he says, “That’s a bit like asking a woman who’s just given birth if she’s going to have another baby.”
The ghostly War Boys of “Mad Max: Fury Road” have a catchy mantra they recite as they go into battle. “I live. I die. I live again!” In some ways it could be the refrain for the series. Begun as a down-and-dirty punk rock vision of a post-apocalyptic Australia, the 1979 no-budget movie made a star out of Mel Gibson and spawned a mini-franchise of two more films, “The Road Warrior” and “Beyond Thunderdome.”
The George Miller films lived, died and now live again courtesy of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” an out-of-control reboot that recreates Max Rockatansky’s dystopian world and then races like hell through it, laying rubber all the way.
Set in an arid, inhospitable world where a snack of raw lizard constitutes a meal, Max (Tom Hardy) is a man who has lost everything, Haunted by “those he could not protect” he is now “a man reduced to a single instinct—survival.” Captured by henchmen of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toecutter in the original “Mad Max”), a despot who hoards precious natural resources and only sparingly shares water with his subjects—Don’t take too much water, he says, you will only come to resent it when it isn’t there.—Max is turned into a blood bank for an ailing war boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Subjected to a life of confinement and drained of his own natural resources, Max sees a chance for freedom when Nux and others do battle against Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a former warrior turned rogue. She’s driving the imposing War Rig—imagine a Monster Truck with an attitude—across the wasteland. With her are Immortan Joe’s five wives—Splendid (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), Capable (Riley Keough), Toast (Zoë Kravitz), The Dag (Abbey Lee Kershaw) and Fragile (Courtney Eaton)—a natural resource he desperately wants back. Max and Furiosa form an uncomfortable alliance to battle the forces of evil and make it across the desert to Furiosa’s childhood home, a green oasis.
It’s been thirty years since there was a new “Mad Max” movie but “Fury Road” was worth the wait. The years have not stilled Miller’s restless camera or his outrageous way with steampunk influenced design or character names. If Imperator Furiosa isn’t the best character name of the year, I don’t know what is. Her title, however, might as well have been Mad Maxine as she is more the focus of the story than the titular character.
It is a chase movie where characters chase immortality, a new life in a better place, love and one another across a vivid landscape. Gone are the grey tones of dystopian movies like “The Road.” In its place is a dusty but vibrant backdrop that frames the non-stop action. Miller keeps the pedal to the metal but unlike the recent “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which had a similar angle of attack, he keeps the action earthbound. The laws of physics are respected—when a car blows up it doesn’t rocket into space for instance—by the director’s use of practical effects. Most everything you see on screen are actual stunts performed by real people and not generated by a clever computer operator in a studio later on. The organic nature of most of (but not quite all) the visuals gives the movie extra torque, adding a sense of danger and realism (no matter how unreal the situation) to the large set pieces that make up the bulk of the film.
Hardy pulls his weight as Max. His powerful physicality mixed with a haunted look—maybe we should call him Passive Aggressive Max—and gearbox permanently shifted to survival makes him an imposing center of the film, but it is Theron who dominates.
As Furiosa she lives up to her name as a force to be reckoned with. She’s a one-armed bandit (literally) who not only provides much of the action in the film, but its heart as well.
The real star, however, is Miller. Thirty years after he last played in Mad Max’s world he revisits it with a film that doesn’t feel like a sequel or a reboot, but a fresh look at an familiar character. His off-the-wall sensibility and demented Hot Wheels style designs give the movie a look and feel that no other director could replicate.
Richard talks with George Miller regarding his film “Mad Max: Fury Road”
George Miller on his life as a doctor before taking up film making full time: “I worked for two and half years in a big city hospital. I stayed registered right up past Mad Max 2: Road Warrior. I never even thought there’d be a career. I was still interested in medicine. I went through medical school with my twin brother. I stayed as a doctor on the first Mad Max because we kept running out of money in post production. I was working and it took over a year to cut that film. Then I stayed through to the second Mad Max because if you are doing stunts you are obliged to have a doctor on set. There weren’t big budgets son I ended up running a clinic during lunch time tending to cuts, sunburns, scrapes and all that. The, as time went on, I realized from my twin brother that… I kept losing the knowledge and not keeping up with it. You can’t do both.”
Near the beginning of “The Rover” there is what can only be described as an Anti-Michael Bay car chase. Slow speed with lots of brake action, it plays more like the OJ Bronco chase than anything we’ve come to expect from Hollywood. Like the rest of the movie it’s not pedal-to-the-metal, but it packs a primal punch.
The story of Eric (Guy Pearce), the proverbial man with nothing left to lose, plays like a recently discovered Michelangelo Antonioni 1970’s nihilistic thriller. Or maybe like the love child of “Mad Max” and “Dude, Where’s My Car.”
Eric makes Clint’s Man With No Name seem like an open book. He’s a dangerous man, a crack shot set into motion when three thieves steal his car. Determined to get it back he is relentless in his efforts as he combs the Australian outback. Along the way he picks up Rey (Robert Pattinson) the only person who knows the whereabouts of the thieves’ hideout and presumably the stolen car.
“The Rover” seems to take its narrative thrust from a single line of dialogue. “Not everything has to be about something.” It’s an action movie punctuated by occasional bursts of violence, but where most of the action is internal. Holy Antonioni! The real turmoil here is inside the heads of the leads, Pearce and Pattinson.
The edgy non-narrative works for most of the film, it’s only when the action becomes slightly more external that the bleak, existentialist atmosphere is broken. The more standard the movie becomes, the less interesting it becomes. Eric is searching for his car, but the last forty minutes of the film feels like director David “Animal Kingdom” Michod is searching for an end to the story. When it does come it feels tacked on, as though Michod felt compelled to provide some sort of reason for Eric’s violent behavior. Stopping the film about a minute before he actually wraps the story would have been more in line with the bleak approach established in the first hour instead of the lame coda provided here. Sometimes it’s best not to know why characters do the things they do.
Pearce underplays Eric, allowing the menace of the character to grow with every unanswered question and steely glare. It’s a terrific performance that allows him to use his considerable on-screen charisma to get the audience inside Eric’s coldblooded behavior.
Pattinson takes the route of many pretty boy actors before him and uglifies Rey as much as possible. With blackened teeth, sweat stains on his clothes and “Sling Blade-esque” accent, he’s moving away from heartthrobdom into the next phase of his career. Nothing about this movie or his performance will appeal to the teenage Twihards who crammed theatres to see him as Edward Cullen. And that’s a good thing. Leaves more room for the rest of us.
“The Rover” is a frustrating movie, and not because of its glacial pacing or taciturn characters, but because it fails to push its desolate, neo-noir Western themes all the way.