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**** stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

There is no other way to say it, Mad Max: Fury Road is ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWING! This film is EVERYTHING you have been wanting and SO MUCH MORE! If you are like me and have been eagerly awaiting another installment of the iconic Mad Max franchise with baited breath, you can now rest easy because George Miller’s long-in-development opus has finally arrived for us to consume with glee.

Let me first just begin by saying that all the waiting and false starts on the road to this film’s completion have been totally worth it. George Miller has outdone himself with this incredible piece of cinema. He has orchestrated one of the GREATEST ACTION FILMS I HAVE EVER SEEN in my life! This movie is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride from the first scene to the very last. Stunts are pulled off on this film that I was jaw-dropped to witness. How people did not perish while making this movie is beyond me. The choreography and precision that must have been instituted to capture Miller’s grand vision must have been incredible. I would wager that each day’s safety meeting was comprehensive to say the least.

I imagine that during the pre-production meetings of the film, Miller was telling his creative team that no costume is too absurd, no vehicle too excessively impractical and no touch of oddity is off the table. ANYTHING goes in this wild vision of the worst future you can imagine. No director has had more fun executing his vision and who could blame him. This is the kind of movie director’s dream of making and the kind every actor wants to be a part of. George Miller has assembled all the right people and ingredients to bring his dream to life. The cast is spectacular, the cinematography breathtaking and the production design, costumes and vehicles SO OVER THE TOP that you will be salivating over your shirt through the biggest smile you have ever experienced. I found myself in awe whilst watching this movie and marveled at the amount of work that went into making such an extravaganza of excessive adrenaline. I wouldn’t even know where to begin such a process.

Miller is a genius and a true maestro of tension; having planned out every shot of this masterpiece over many years in his head and pasted together a moving freight train that keeps you glued to the screen for two hours. At one point I was ready to chew on my belt to get me through the intensity on screen.
THIS IS WHAT MOVIES ARE ALL ABOUT. Forget the “cause” films, the romantic dramas, the historical epics and the Merchant Ivory period pieces. THIS is why we happily allow theaters to extort our money from within our pockets. All those other genres are well and good, but this action-packed bonanza is why we go to the movies. Mad Max: Fury Road is ENTERTAINMENT in its purest form, and I have never been happier to shell out some greens.  I walked out of the theater feeling more energized, more entertained and more pleased than I can ever recall. And that is saying A LOT. Hours have passed since I left the screening and I can’t stop thinking about this movie.

Narrow Margin


DVD Review:

Narrow Margin

*** stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

1990’s Narrow Margin stars Gene Hackman and Anne Archer. It is a tense, suspense thriller on a train with twists and turns and surprisingly funny lines along the way.

Archer is a woman who witnessed a murder and Hackman is the Los Angeles Assistant D.A. who is taking her from Canada to L.A. to testify against a mob boos who ordered the hit that she unfortunately saw firsthand. Most of the film takes place on a mountainside train along the Canadian wilderness.

As usual, Gene Hackman is great as a smart tough guy who just happens to be a lawyer. He always has a commanding presence on film and his voice is one of the most recognizable in film history. It is a shame he has retired from acting, but I hope he will at least do one more film before he passes. I am not holding my breath however, as Hackman has reportedly turned down a mountain of offers over the years since retiring from acting after making the 2004 film Welcome to Mooseport (what a sad final film for a great actor’s resume’).

Peter Hyams, who is Narrow Margin’s writer, director and cinematographer, has done a great job handling the intensity and intricacy of the action sequences while balancing the expository moments with some surprising humor. At times we are doubtful of the moments where Hackman overpowers men a lot younger than him, but his physical abilities are explained eventually and we can then, dispel our disbelief. But this genre is known for contrivances and we can happily just look the other way and allow the film to simply entertain us.

This is a good, not too famous film I have always known about but have not seen until now. It is definitely a worthy viewing, especially if you are a Gene Hackman fan as I am.