Editor’s Notes: Mad Max: Fury Road, Lost After Dark, and Extinction are out on their respective formats September 1st.
Mad Max: Fury Road
When we first see him, Max, bound by a metal face device and utilized as a human blood supply, is a prisoner of the War Boys of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Initially enemies, Max and Furiosa eventually become allies against a mutual foe and a grudging respect develops between them.
The first half-hour of the film is essentially a chase, with an assortment of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and crazed War Boys wildly shooting flame throwers, lobbing hand grenades, and jumping, like pirates, from one vehicle to the next. The extended sequence is beautifully filmed and exciting to watch. Director George Miller knows how to tell his simple story in visual terms, downplaying dialogue for fear of bogging down the picture’s rocket-like pace.
Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, X-Men: Days of Future Past) co-stars as a wild-eyed, maniacal War Boy who joins the cause of decency and is driven more by conscience than testosterone as one new danger after another manifests itself. Max and Furiosa are hard-as-nails fighters who hold on to their humanity in a world where savagery and rampant violence are the norm.
The 3D effects are pretty cool, with projectiles, fists, vehicles and everything else zooming toward the camera. In addition to its gimmickry, the 3D gives the road scenes a sense of depth, emphasizing the nearly endless expanse of flat, desert.
Bonus extras on the 3D Blu-ray/2D Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include several behind-the-scenes featureless. Special features are in 2D Blu-ray.
Clearly, director Ian Kessner is a fan of 80s-era horror, since he gets nearly everything right, including simulated splices, scratches, and reel changes (which occur only at the beginning). Those who know the genre will see references to Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, He Knows You’re Alone, Maniac, Mother’s Day, Prom Night, and many others. The script works as both an homage to the past and an addition to the genre.
The movie never achieves the status of a Psycho, but that’s part of the fun. These slasher films were turned out practically weekly in attempts to duplicate the impressive box office of Friday the 13th and Halloween. They were embraced by those who liked their horror bloody and graphic, and “Lost After Dark” caters to the same audience.
Unlike the characters in Scream, those in Lost After Dark are not horror-flick savvy, so they don’t comment on their predicament with references to horror films. They are unaware of potential danger and make all the wrong decisions — just like typical 80s horror movie teens.
Zombie movies are as plentiful today as slasher films were back in the 1980s. Extinction foregoes the almost requisite scenes of plague outbreak and character intros, plunking the viewer right into the midst of a caravan of two buses filled with survivors desperate to reach the perceived safety of a military base. But the hopeful survivors are besieged by zombies who tear their way through the passengers, many of the attacked soon rising and searching for victims of their own.
The movie resembles in structure both I Am Legend and 28 Days Later, but still contains some memorable sequences and gruesome images, mostly in the early part of the film. When the picture begins to explore the dynamics among the three protagonists, however, it loses considerable steam and becomes overly talky. Zombie films are at their best when the zombies are on screen. Production design reflects budget restraints with many scenes clearly filmed on sound stages rather than actual locations. The zombies themselves are blind albinos, a nice variation of the traditional depiction. Extinction avoids many zombie flick cliches and contains some thoughtfully crafted suspense. In that bus sequence, for example, there’s an escalating sense of dread and tension as the camera shows the faces of the various passengers. When the attack does occur, it’s all the more horrifying because of the lead-up to it.
The only bonus extra on the DVD release is a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette.