The Screen Critic: A new Mad Max adventure, a touching tale of self-discovery and a dark comedy-drama about a comedian and his stalker

May 24, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen. In Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, director George Miller takes us back to the post-apocalyptic wasteland he created in The Road Warrior for an exhilarating, epic action spectacle.

Easily out-performing 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road on all fronts, particularly in terms of sheer scale, the film provides the gruelling backstory of anti-heroine Furiosa, played in Fury Road by Charlize Theron and here by Anya Taylor-Joy.

Filled with stunning chase scenes and jaw-dropping cinematography, we are shown how the young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) was kidnapped from her idyllic forest home and enslaved by Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), the aptly named leader of a brutal, heavily motorised gang who is determined to rule the industrial centres of the wasteland.

In a daring move, Miller aims the film squarely at an adult audience, presumably those who grew up with the series since the advent of the ground-breaking original Mad Max in 1979.

Amidst all the horse-powered mayhem – and the is a lot of it – the focus is on Furiosa and how the terrors of being “adopted” by Dementus form a character of resilience who is hard-wired to find her way home – once she has exacted revenge on her tormentor, that is.

There’s no two ways about it: Furiosa is a brilliant, character-driven action film that lifts the Mad Max series. There are a few light moments, but the soirée is played straight and serious, taking its time to unfold a tale that is genuinely breath-taking.

Here’s to more.

For something slightly quieter, The Way, My Way is a moving, modest Australian comedy about an ageing filmmaker called Bill (Chris Haywood) who decides to walk the Camino de Santiago, the famous 800-kilometre trail in Spain.

Inspired by the real-life experience of writer/director Bill Bennett, the film deals humorously with the malaise that can beset those in later life.

In this case, Bill’s motivation is initially vague as he seems to be in pursuit of answers to questions he hasn’t quite formulated.

During his arduous trek, aided in no way by a troublesome knee, he encounters a series of friendly strangers who unwittingly help Bill fill in the blanks that have emerged in his life.

Like most Australian films, The Way, My Way has arrived in cinemas with little fanfare, so is unlikely to last long. Catch it while you can. It’s a gem.

Oh, dear. If only IF was the charming, family-friendly film it clearly wants to be. Writer/director John Krasinski (Jim from The Office) delves into the fantasy world of imaginary friends – IFs – with a thin, half-baked story that struggles to hold your attention.

The animation is lovely and the voice cast is crammed with big names (Steve Carrel; Emily Blunt; Bradley Cooper; Matt Damon) but the yarn meanders all over the shop. The film should keep little ones preoccupied but adults will probably get restless. Best wait for it to stream.

Proving yet again how much the French love their history is The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan, the latest film version of the 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet (a frequent collaborator, the internet informs).

Made on a big budget with top French actors and lots of colourful costumes, this fine outing closely follows the classic tale as D’Artagnan (François Civil) teams up with the famous three (Vincent Cassel; Romain Duris; Pio Marmaï).

Though it’s not as fun as previous tellings – remember those wonderful Richard Lester films from the early 1970s? – it moves at a cracking pace, has been one of France’s biggest hits and sets us up nicely for part two, which should be out in June.

In the strange, compelling Netflix seven-parter Baby Reindeer struggling Scottish comedian Donny Dunn (Richard Gadd) is cast into a living nightmare when he attracts the unwanted attentions of Martha (Jessica Gunning, in a great performance), whose cheery demeanour gradually gives way to the fact that she is a sociopath.

What begins as a cozy friendship leads to an obsession that sees Martha stalking Dunn and sending thousands of messages via text, email and voicemail.

All attempts to shake her off only make matters worse, with Dunn’s desperate need to get rid of her colliding with his growing – and arguably deranged – fascination with her behaviour.

A fictionalised take on Gadd’s real-life entanglements with a stalker (which produced a one-man stage show), the tale unwinds as a very black psychological comedy that goes to some very dark places.

A smash with UK viewers, Baby Reindeer has stirred up some controversy as people have come forward to deny that they are depicted in the story.

Whatever the case, it’s a bizarre comedy-drama that brings frightening new meaning to the idea of just how wrong love can get.

For more visit with updates on X at @jimschembri

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