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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Mad Max: Fury Road & The Longest Ride

Dearest Blog, yesterday it was off to the cinema for the unlikely pairing of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Longest Ride.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First on my agenda: Mad Max: Fury Road.

A pair of unlikely allies flees a pack of brutal baddies across a futuristic desert wasteland.

Dear reader(s), I have long known the summer of 2015 would mean one thing for me: admitting I haven't seen the original Mad Max, Jurassic Park, or Terminator movies since their theatrical releases.

My recollection of the three franchises is limited to one (1) Tina Turner video (from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) and Izzy from Miami Vice being killed whilst sitting on the toilet (in the first Jurassic Park).

Therefore, 'twas not any residual affection for the original, nor any delight at seeing it resurrected, that led to my excitement for the new Mad Max; the credit for that can be laid solely at the feet of one of the most amazing trailers in recent memory. In fact, I frequently said if the movie were half as good as said trailer, we'd be in good shape.

Note to self: refrain from such statements in the future.

First, let's get to what Mad Max: Fury Road gets right, because there's plenty, and it's absolutely worth the price of admission. This is a magnificent-looking movie. Full marks across the board for cinematography, art direction, costumes and makeup, effects, stunts, locations, and set design.

Even the 3D is spectacular, and I assure you, dear reader(s), I generally have no love for 3D. Explosive maximum carnage--both human and vehicular--is up-close and enormous. The acting, such as it is, is far less cringeworthy than the original trilogy.

Tom Hardy makes a fair replacement for Mel Gibson, though, even as the titular good guy, he has less to do than Charlize Theron, a tough and able hero. Nicholas Hoult is surprisingly un-annoying (for Nicholas Hoult), and Jason Statham's woman is serviceable in just her second big-screen appearance, at least as far as I could tell between giving her the stinkeye. A grand score by Junkie XL perfectly complements the huge action.'s the problem: you know when you hop in the car to go on vacation? At first it's so exciting, but, after about 30 minutes, it's all, "Are we there yet?" That's this movie. It's essentially just one overlong car chase, and it is unspeakably exhausting. I was all but done by the halfway point and wishing it *were* just a Tina Turner video. There's barely enough plot for a short, and, in the end, I'd say the movie is almost exactly half as good as that trailer that raised my hopes so very high.

Mad Max: Fury Road runs two hours on the dot (but seems much longer) and is rated R for "intense sequences of violence throughout, and disturbing images."

It's a disappointment in many ways, but Mad Max: Fury Road is still more than worth seeing in 3D on the biggest screen you can find.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Mad Max: Fury Road gets six.

Next up was the most recent Nicholas Sparks gag-fest, The Longest Ride.

A young bullrider and his art-student girlfriend find valuable lessons in some old love letters.
Alrighty, in the interest of full and fair disclosure: whatever a "fair shake" is for a dog turd like The Longest Ride, you may rest assured it isn't getting one here. I'm not one to sign on for a movie I know I'm going to hate, just for the privilege of hating it, but sometimes my hand is forced by a beloved actor, so...thank Jack Huston for what follows.

The Longest Ride kicks off with more lower-lip-biting and demure-looking-through-lashes than the best 50 Shades parody.

Fifteen minutes in I'm cursing the half-dozen other patrons keeping me from getting out my phone and piddling on Facebook during the non-Jack Huston parts.

Then we're off to watch Real Men participate in the barbaric "sport" of bull riding. Cue the groupies in their short skirts and cowboy boots--our squeaky-clean hero has eyes for just one--cut to dirty looks from the other women in attendance. Is there an app that tells me when my favorite actor is onscreen? I could always go hide in the bathroom for awhile... He's come to pick her up at the sorority house for their first date. Preppy college kids giggle and whisper at his boots and hat, but when he presents flowers (my gosh, no guy has ever thought of THAT before!) the entire sorority squeals, "I want a cowboy!"

Who writes this shit? Is there money in it? Sign me up!

On their way home, the couple happens upon a car accident. Sexy Cowboy pulls a victim from the burning car, while the Damsel rescues a box about which he seems concerned, even in his gravely-injured state.

Perhaps the car will blow up? This movie would be a lot more tolerable if only something would blow up.

She elects to stay at the ER with the elderly accident victim, sneaking a peek in his precious box, which is filled with old love letters.

When he awakes, he instantly takes to her--despite being supremely grouchy to everyone else--and sadly confesses he can no longer read the letters. Thus begins an epic friendship that consists of her reading the letters aloud while he lies there looking like death-warmed-over.

Is it poor form to riff out loud at the movies? Asking for a friend. The rest of the so-called plot consists of romantic standards such as running on the beach and vanilla, rating-conscious love scenes. (Folks, if you send your women off to see this, thinking they'll come home in a lather, forget about it.

The sex is no more explicit than your average broadcast TV show, and they're more likely to come home and demand you purchase a priceless work of art to prove your undying love.) Leads Scott Eastwood (Clint's son, apparently) and Britt Robertson are about as bland and predictable as the story itself.

The terrific Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin are pitifully wasted as the younger version of the couple in the love letters. It goes without saying Alan Alda is slumming in crap like this, but feigning life-threatening injury does at least give him a little bit of acting to do. By the end I was actively pondering whether the straw from my soda could be used to perform ritual suicide.

The Longest Ride clocks in at a bloated 139 minutes and is rated PG13 for "some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action."

It won't take long before you're rooting for the bull, trust me.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Longest Ride gets two, both of which are awarded for Jack Huston's only 2015 big-screen appearance.

Until next time.

Pen name: Nicholas Sparks.

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