Blood Transfusions Don’t Work Like That: A review of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

maxresdefaultYou might be familiar with a little review I wrote for a little movie called Snowpiercer.  In fact, you’re more likely to be familiar with that piece than anything else on the site, since it’s had nearly eleven thousand hits, which is eight thousand more hits than the second most popular post I’ve ever written.  It’s the first thing you get when you Google “Snowpiercer stupid,” and it still gets 35-40 hits a day, every day, no matter what.

A thing to remember about that movie is that I wanted to see it.  It was my idea.  Because Snowpiercer had been getting rave reviews from people whose opinion on film I generally trusted.

Those same people have been raving about Mad Max: Fury Road for over a week now.  It’s been an incredibly well-received film.  And as a result it was the first movie since Lincoln that I’ve seen in the theaters that didn’t involve a superhero somehow, although I did manage to miss opening weekend.

I was terrified to see this film, and I was terrified precisely because of Snowpiercer.  I wanted to love it, but…well, you’ll see.

Here’s the good news: I didn’t hate it.  It might sound like it at points, but I really didn’t.  Does that mean I think it was a good movie?  No.  It’s not.  In fact, the Snowpiercer comparison is actually pretty apt: Mad Max: Fury Road is a very Snowpiercer-ish movie, in that it is stunningly well-shot, amazingly pretty, great to look at… and so deeply stupid that it hurts me in my bones.

But God, is it pretty, and exciting, and appropriately badass at any number of points.  This is the bad guy:

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I mean, look at that creepy motherfucker, with his creepy teeth painted onto his respirator and his weird creepy transparent plastic armor.  He’s Obviously Evil, and impressively so.

Here is the thing about Mad Max: Fury Road.  It is a two-hour car chase.  It is literally and completely and I am not exaggerating a two hour car chase, or if you want me to be super specific it’s probably about three half-hour car chases with some slightly calmer shit in between.  Shit blows up good, and people are badasses.  There’s a dude whose only job it is to play electric guitar while hanging from some chains several feet above a moving vehicle.  The guitar occasionally shoots fire for some reason.

If you hear that and think “Awesome!” then go see this movie right now.  If you’re of the mindset to question the need for a flamethrower-guitar dude while risking dozens of lives and some of the only few remaining post-apocalypse vehicles plus untold amounts of ammunition and explosives and gas and water to bring the only four pretty women left on Earth back to Captain Creepyteeth up there, you might want to give it a pass.  If you’re going to spend the movie wondering why the four scantily-clad pretty women aren’t ever worried about sunscreen, this might not be your movie.

(Captain Creepyteeth’s real name is Joe.  That’s not a joke.  The character’s name is Joe.)

What separates it from Snowpiercer territory is that Mad Max: Fury Road knows what kind of movie it is, and revels in it.  Yeah, there’s a guitar flamethrower.  But squibbity-blam-boom-flame!!!  Yeah, there’s a scene where grown men attach themselves to the ends of giant mechanical pole vault sticks to swing around above the cars that are moving at many dozens of miles an hour over desert, and there’s lots of people spraypainting their mouths silver for some reason, and then there’s the bit with the blood transfusions that I won’t even get into.  But all that shit is cool!  Fury Road knows it’s a gloriously dumb movie, and it wants you to revel in the glorious dumb.  Snowpiercer really thought it was a Deep and Serious Film about Deep and Serious Issues and not a shit-stupid action movie.  Mad Max: Fury Road knows good and goddamn well that it’s a shit-stupid action movie, and it is a damn good shit-stupid action movie, to the point where I’m not sure being smarter would have helped.

(A possibly clarifying example: that robots vs. monsters movie… what the hell was it called?  Pacific Rim.  Pacific Rim was a terribly stupid movie that did not have to be terribly stupid, and in fact in several places could have been helped by being less stupid.  I’m not sure that removing the dumb parts helps Mad Max.  The movie wouldn’t be better without Flamethrower Guitar in it.  It would just be less itself, if that makes any sense.)

There is also this guy, whose name is– I am not making this up– Rictus Erectus, because of course it is:

new-mad-max-fury-road-trailer-shows-no-mercyHe will play Grond, when Benevolence Archives becomes a movie.

(And I’ve found no good place to mention this, because this movie really isn’t about acting, but Charlize Theron really is as great as everyone’s been giving her credit for.  The movie really should be called Furiosa: Fury Road, except that takes it into Riddick levels of stupidly repeated words.)

Blogwanking and salewanking. Just a lot of wanking, basically.

The sale’s not quite over yet, but I like looking at numbers so let’s do that.  With a little bit of luck, I’ll get another sale or two today.  I figure I have enough indie authors reading this that somebody ought to find this interesting.  Forgive me if you’re not among that group.

Here are my Amazon sales since Skylights launched.  Note that this is for both of my books:

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As you can see, since a day or two after the book launched, I’ve been good to get a sale in a day, and getting sales two days in a row is unusual.  Last week I had one little spike with two sales– someone bought both Benevolence Archives and Skylights within a couple of minutes of each other, if I remember right, but then nothing until this weekend.

So, in terms of absolute numbers, selling seven books?  Not great.  Selling seven books in a weekend compared to the month that it took to sell seven books before that?  I’ll take it.

Most of the sales at Amazon were of Skylights, by the way. I think one of them, maybe, is BA.

Here’s Smashwords, which won’t let me combine stats into one chart.  We’ll look at BA first:

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Now, keep in mind that Benevolence Archives is free at Smashwords, so each download here represents a full download of the book.  By my standards, I feel like it’s done pretty well– days of multiple downloads have been reasonably common lately and I had that one nice spike where I got eleven downloads in a single day.  (I have no idea what triggered that, by the way, and I wish I did.)  There were a handful of downloads during the sale, but it doesn’t stand out compared to the pattern over the last month all that much.

Here’s Skylights at Smashwords:

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(I should note here that you should be able to click on all of these to make ’em bigger.)

The little spike of four downloads in the middle there is the day where I handed out free codes to people who wanted them.  In general, Skylights hasn’t done very well at Smashwords, but I’ve been pretty gratified by the number of sample downloads, particularly the bump you see over the last four days during the sale, and the actual sales of the book have been nice, too.  I recognize that a lot of those sample downloads aren’t getting read– hell, haven’t read a lot of the sample chapters I’ve downloaded– but I think Skylights starts off really strong, and I’m confident that if people actually read the first bit they’ll end up downloading the book.

As far as the set-your-own pricing?  No one paid the recommended price. We had a few who got it for free (which, again, is fine,) one person paid $2, and one paid $6.99, two dollars above the recommended price.  I have not yet nailed down which relative it was that did that.  🙂

I think that later tonight I’m probably going to return the Amazon prices to where they were– you could make the argument that the lower prices were what drove the sales, but when I reduced Benevolence Archives to $0.99 for a few weeks sales didn’t change at all, so I think it’s probably the increased noise I’ve been making over the last four days to get people to buy my books– which I’m not going to be able to keep up, because it’s exhausting.  I’m still toying with the idea of leaving Skylights at set-your-own pricing; BA will remain free at Smashwords.  We’ll see if I pick up any sales over the next couple of days once I stop shouting about it constantly.

And now, on another note:

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This continues to entertain the hell out of me.  2572 views; my second most popular post of all time does not have 1000 yet.  Note that it’s not 5:00 yet and the post is already within a hit or two of its best day ever; hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if I reloaded after finishing this and found out it was at its best (Edit: yep.)  Mondays are huge for the Snowpiercer review because people see the movie over the weekend, hate it, and then go looking for bad reviews of it on Monday. Don’t believe me?  Here’s my search queries lately:

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There are legions of people out there who hate this movie, and I am their king.

REBLOG: I Hated Snowpiercer: An Unpopular Opinion

I hated this movie too, but this reviewer doesn’t say “fuck” nearly as often as I did. Still a good piece.

Prologue to a Blog

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I finally watched Snowpiercer a few of weeks ago in the comfort of my living room after failing to gather a company into the movie theatres or live in another country where the film had already been released in 2013. I made popcorn. I piled up all blankets and pillows within arm’s reach to amplify my mind’s zone and also to make the couch extra cozy. I had watched the trailer several times, read excellent, spoiler-free reviews, and had been waiting for this moment all summer.

We began as four (my mother, my sister, my father, and I), then three, then two, then… one and a half? Only my dad and I survived through the end, and then with only part of our once-livid interest still intact.

We decided immediately that the film was a terrible, terrible letdown. I didn’t understand—this movie was supposed to be the film to watch…

View original post 1,816 more words

Your Friday blogwank

So apparently one of the ways to get long-term attention paid to a post is to write an incredibly negative review of a critically-acclaimed, yet irredeemably terrible movie.  There’s been a weird resurgence of interest in the SNOWPIERCER review over the last couple of weeks that I find vaguely fascinating, especially since my referrer logs don’t seem to think it’s all coming from one place, and if it keeps up the post will have more views in October than it did the month it actually came out.  Have a look:

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SNOWPIERCER: I hated, hated, hated, hated, HATED this movie.

large_snowpiercerI’m not sure how to write this post.

I’m prone to hyperbole, right?  I know this about myself.  I also tend to get infectious about my own strong opinions; if I love something, I love the hell out of it, and my dislike can tend to go to extremes quickly too.  So I have to be on guard against my own tendencies in these manners, particularly when I want to write about things I either liked or didn’t like. I have to be careful to avoid overstating reality, or people will stop taking me seriously.

I watched Snowpiercer with my wife last night.  I should be clear about something: this was my idea.  I felt like a Sunday night movie, and I’d heard nothing but good things about this movie– which, as I’ll probably point out repeatedly in this review, currently has a ninety-five percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  That doesn’t happen very often.

The problem, here, is that this is the dumbest goddamn movie I’ve ever seen.  The. Dumbest. Movie. I’ve. Ever. Seen.

Adam Sandler in the main role could not have made this movie dumber.  In fact, he might have improved it, because putting Adam Sandler in your title role indicates that you do not want your film taken seriously, and Snowpiercer so badly wants to be taken seriously.

I do not know what to do with people who liked this movie.  It’s as if, to steal a line from John Cole, I suggest having Italian for dinner and you suggest we go eat tire rims and anthrax instead.  I don’t know where to go from there.  We’re not even speaking the same language.

Wait, I know.  I can pick a review and mock the hell out of it. That’ll work.

Here is what you need to know about the premise of Snowpiercer.  I am not trying to make this sound dumber than it is.  The premise is exactly this dumb:

  • Global Warming!
  • Global warming is fought with… contrails.  (Sin #1, less than a minute into the movie.)
  • The contrails plunge the entire planet into a deep freeze that, and I’m quoting the movie as directly as my memory allows, kills all life on Earth.  I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.  I’m pretty sure that’s close to exactly what they said.
  • It does this without blocking the sun, which… uh… is manifestly impossible.  But every outside scene in the movie is in bright daylight.
  • ANYWAY!  Thank God for rich guys!  A rich guy figures out how to save some number X of human beings!
  • By… putting them on a train, which runs endlessly around the world, for seventeen years by the time the movie starts.

That’s it.

That’s really the premise.

That’s a fucking stupid premise.

It’s an insanely stupid premise.   It’s a massively incredibly unbelievably horrifyingly stupid premise and a seventh grader should be ashamed of it.  But somehow this got green lit, and it’s 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, because the world no longer makes sense.  The movie is literally beyond stupid before it even starts.  And it never, ever, ever gets better.

I seriously can’t decide if I want to go moment-by-moment through my recollection of the movie and mock it scene by scene or tear a review to shreds.

Let’s start with this one.  It’s representative enough.

It’s so hard to describe how amazing “Snowpiercer” is without giving away everything that makes it amazing.

Well, yes.  Part of describing amazingness is… uh, describing amazingness.

At the tail end are the have-nots: the dirty, hungry and oppressed who are crammed together, doing whatever they must to live another day. For the most part, these are decent folks who’ve learned to co-exist peacefully, if miserably — but desperation does scary things to people, and the recounted examples of sacrifice are chilling.

Let’s talk about this.  The train is divided into the Front and the Back, and if you watch the trailer you can hear Tilda Swinton’s character tediously lecturing them about how this is supposed to work.  Now, this is important: in the trailer, this is delivered over booming dramatic music.  In the movie, it’s delivered against silence, and includes a horrifyingly stupid metaphor about how shoes are not hats and it goes on forever and it is terrible.

Don’t let me forget about that “precisely 74% of you shall die” line, btw.

Anyway.  Right.  Here’s the thing: those people in the back, who are oppressed and eating protein bars and wearing dirty clothes and who revolt against the rich 1%ers (Ooh!  Impressively subtle social commentary!) in the front?  They’re on the train for no fucking reason at all.  They do not do anything.  There is no goddamn reason for them to fucking be there at all other than they need them for a dystopia.  This isn’t the proletariat revolting against the bourgeoisie; the bourgeoisie depend on the proletariat.  The back-of-the-trainers produce nothing for anyone.  They have no jobs, no responsibilities, no nothing.  They just sit back there and eat.

They are not decent folks.  They are boring nothing-people, because the movie makes them that way.

But let’s move on.

Swinton is a hoot playing a truly awful human being, but being the thoughtful and versatile actress that she is, she finds a way into this cruel and condescending figure without devolving into caricature.

I need you to understand that if this character is not a “caricature” than “caricature” no longer has any meaning as a word.  She’s every mean schoolmarm you’ve ever heard in your life.  That’s all she is.  I have no idea why she ever interacts with the back-people, because, again, there’s no reason for them to be there.

So, yeah, there’s a rebellion:

They’re ultimately aiming for the front and for the man who not only invented the train but placed everyone inside of it: the wealthy and powerful Willard, who’s regarded with equal amounts of admiration and contempt, depending on whom you’re asking.

Now, this needs to be made clear:  they have to go through every single car of the train to get to the front.  By the time they get there, the “revolution” is down to Chris Evans and two other characters, one of whom is weirdly and inexplicably a little psychic and the other only speaks… Korean, maybe? except when it is convenient for him to speak and/or understand English.  Sometimes he has a little device that translates for him.  Sometimes he doesn’t.  The language barrier is another of the ways in which the film is stupid.

Now, not all of the Back People are gonna be warriors.  Okay. But… maybe more than five of them try to go to the front of the train?  What the fuck is Chris Evans gonna do by hisgoddamnself up there?  Maybe everybody goes to the front of the train!

Nope.

Seeing who plays him is one of the film’s many exciting discoveries.

Ed Harris.  It’s Ed Harris.

The “exciting discovery” is Ed fucking Harris.

Never before in the history of the English language has Ed Harris been referred to as an “exciting discovery.”

Opening the doors to each new car provides a rush of possibility, with Marcos Beltrami’s propulsive score underneath. Each represents a beautifully realized, self-contained world. Each is impeccable in its production and costume design.

And none of which makes any fucking sense at all.  

You’re trying to save the human race.  The only living humans are going to be the ones on your train.

Do you include a sushi bar?

How about a sauna?

There is, by the way, one sleeping car for the entire front of the train.  I don’t know where these people poop either.

Oh, and one entire car features a rave.

Other than the machine that makes the protein bars– and I’ll get to that later– there is no manufacturing on the train at all, because why would there be manufacturing on a train, which makes the Front People’s perfectly new and perfectly clean clothing, after seventeen years, a little… odd?

The one common theme among people who enjoy this movie is that they get hypnotized by the visuals.  I couldn’t like this movie for the same reason I never thought Jessica Simpson was hot.  I cannot get past that much stupid no matter how pretty it is.

Sushi bar, people.

But the bit where the movie became truly unsupportable was the school car.  This is the part of the movie where it became perfectly clear that Chris Evans was made to star in this film at gunpoint.  Look at the man’s face in this scene:

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That is not the face of a man who is acting.  That is the face of a man who has no idea how the fuck he got where he is and is considering simply saying fuck the paycheck and going home.

Now, note something:  There has just been a massive, violent and bloody revolution in the back of this train.  Dozens of people have been killed.  Absolutely nothing has changed in the front of the train.  No one appears to know what has happened– I guess those forty or fifty guards just lived in that one car, with no food or beds or furniture or, like, a place to sit; that’s just the Standing Menacingly In Case We Need to Do That car– and no one at the front cares when these people come forward despite all of Tilda Swinton’s hectoring nonsense about Knowing Your Place.

And none of the children react to the bloody, beaten-up people who come into their school.  The bloody, beaten-up people just wander around.

Oh, shit, I forgot.  My favorite bit?  Did you see the part in the trailer where Tilda Swinton tells them that 74% of them are about to die?  Sounds kinda badass, right?

No fucking reason at all to be in the movie.  She says that for no reason at all.  And, again, since there is no reason for the tail people to be there, it doesn’t matter how many of them die no matter what Ed Harris says later.  They aren’t doing anything. They don’t need to be there.

So, yeah.  That scene: They’ve made a big deal about how there are no bullets left on the train, a plot point that is summarily thrown out later, (because Reasons, and because it gives them a reason to forget that it’s supposed to be cold outside) and the rebellion runs into a bunch of security guards with axes.  Because, sure, why not, right?  They are also wearing masks that inexplicably cover their eyes:

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You, uh, can’t see to fight.  Now, it’s okay, because in a scene that all the idiots keep praising, soon this train will go into a tunnel, and all of these guys will put on night-vision goggles so that they can keep fighting.  (The amazing cinematography during this scene that people keep talking about?  They shift into first-person mode for a bit during the fight.  This was stupid when the DOOM movie did it, and the DOOM movie was based on a first-person action video game.  It’s even more inexcusable here.)

Right, the goggles.  They put them on over their black fucking knit caps that are blocking their vision.

You might wonder how they get the time to stop the fight and put on the night-vision goggles when clearly in this shot the fight has not begun yet and they are also clearly not in the dark.

They stop the fight to sing Happy New Year.

I am not joking.

The entire fight, including the revolutionaries, stops so that the combatants can sing Happy New Year, and then the revolutionaries, who are fighting for their lives by the way, wait patiently while these men put on night-vision goggles– after one character explains to everyone that they’re about to enter a tunnel– because, hell, I don’t know, it would be… what, unfair to the… bad guys?  Or something?

The intentionally cryptic conclusion suggests that something better may be out there — for everyone — after all.

Here is how the movie ends: They blow up the train, and everyone dies.  Well, everyone except for Inexplicably Psychic Girl and Stolen Kid– God, don’t get me started on Stolen Kid— who wander off the train, into weather so cold that someone’s arm was frozen solid in seven minutes two hours beforehand– and they are fine, and then there is a polar bear, and OH HEY I GUESS ALL LIFE ON EARTH DIDN’T DIE, except that polar bear is going to eat your dumb asses and oh also you have no food and water.  Or shelter.

You’re gonna die, is what I’m saying.

This is only “cryptic” if you’re a fucking moron.

Christ I’m at almost 2000 words already.  I wanted to write fiction tonight, people.

You need to understand that I have barely scratched the surface here.  I have not yet begun to elucidate the many, many ways in which this was an insanely stupid movie.  It took me two thousand words to mention the part where Korean Door Hacker Guy pulls out a couple of cigarettes and we hear a voice over from a random character say “Cigarettes have been extinct for ten years!” rather than, oh, I don’t know, just having the characters react to seeing a cigarette.

Because that’s how stupid this movie is; it doesn’t trust itself– or you— to even comprehend simple shit.

Their protein bars (God, I haven’t even talked about the protein bars!  Half the fucking movie is about protein bars!) are made of bugs. Millions and millions of bugs to make protein bars.

Where do the bugs come from, on this we’re-repeatedly-told-this-is-a-closed-ecosystem of a train?  The millions and millions of bugs that we see in the one shot that get turned into protein bars each and every day to feed the people who have no earthly fucking reason to be on the train needing food?

Don’t ask!

I hated this fucking movie.


So, uh, this post is starting to go viral?  I just want to point out that a lot of you are new to my blog, and there are lots of other posts to read  if you found this review interesting or funny.  I also write books.  It is my hope that they are more entertaining, or at least make a lot more sense, than SNOWPIERCER.  Finally, if you like, feel free to follow me on Twitter.  Thanks for reading, even if you think I’m an idiot after doing it.  🙂

Second update:  Comments are closed, because babysitting the internet on a post from four months ago has officially gotten old.  If you liked the post and want me to know, just hit “Like.”  If you didn’t like the post and want me to know, well, you’ll just have to find a way to live with someone not liking something you like.  I’m very sorry that happened to you.  I’m sure whatever you were going to say would have changed my mind, too.