‘Mad Max 2’ Speaks About Our Relationship with the Planet 0 108


The Mad Max franchise began as a revenge story but as the series progressed, deeper and more interesting themes emerged. With the critical success of Mad Max: Fury Road, let’s take a look back at arguably the best installment of the series—Road Warrior.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior picks up a couple years after the original and we are presented with a new version of Max (Mel Gibson). No longer bent on revenge for his family, Max is now a loner traveling the barren landscape of our dystopian future alone. Anything that resembled civilization has crumbled under the weight of an energy crisis and war. The energy crisis has made gasoline a top commodity. So rare and precious is gas that people are willing to do anything for it—even kill.

While the story may seem a bit over the top, it may not be all that far off from our own future. Over thirty years later and the energy crisis that filmmaker George Miller brought to life seems a much closer reality than ever before. Science has shown the damage humans have done and continue to do to our planet. Between the depleting ozone layer, an increased need for recycling and the destruction of the rainforests, Mad Max may be our future.

The one thing that hits closer to home than anything else is the gasoline shortage. The world is highly dependent on fossil fuels to continue functioning. The sad fact is that fossil fuels like oil are not unlimited. There will come a time when we realize we have used up all our resources. Instead of green landscapes and beautiful rolling hills of grass, we will end up with the deserted outback the Mad Max series shows us.

Is there hope for humanity? Hopefully. Even in this enlightened age of science and knowledge though, there are many people who are not totally convinced or simply do not believe that we are in danger. Even with scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and innovators like Elon Musk warning us of the impending dangers of fossil fuel dependence, a large portion of America (and the world) see these warnings as little more than liberal scare tactics, lies, or misinformation.

Back in 1970, U.S. oil production hit its peak at 9.6 thousand barrels per day. After this, there were many years of steady decline in the industry. Instead of finding more ways to utilize the energy all around us, humans decided their best option was to find more aggressive ways to pull that precious fossil fuel from the Earth. Now we are back to pulling over 9 thousand barrels of oil out of our planet every day.


Sure, this sounds like good news, but the truth is this could very likely be our true peak. To avoid falling into the decay we see in the Mad Max films, humans need to begin investing in more efficient renewable energy sources. Some of these alternatives we have today, thanks to a variety of companies offering renewable energy. For example, Duke Energy in the Carolinas provides hydroelectric energy, Ohio Gas Companies offer greener natural gas, and SolarCity in California lets homeowners lease solar panels.

Will this be enough? The answer is probably not. Until everyone realizes the impact our modern lifestyle has on the one and only Earth we have, mankind will continue moving towards the barren landscapes of biker gangs and extreme violence seen in the movies. Mad Max may have seemed like some crazy future thirty years ago, but now it looks more like an ancient prophecy warning us of the impending doom we have caused.

Will we listen?

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Movie Review: Home Again 0 422

This review was previously published at The National.

Despite an obviously talented leading lady in Reese Witherspoon and a family pedigree behind the camera in making this sort of rom-com flutter sweetly off the screen, Home Again struggles to finds its way out of cloying cliché and narrative contrivance.

This is the directorial debut of Hallie Myers-Shyer, daughter of genre stalwart Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, What Women Want). It focuses on the life of Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), a single mum who has just turned 40 and tries her best to raise her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) in Los Angeles with her job as an interior decorator.

Freshly separated from her British music mogul husband Austen (Michael Sheen), she embarks on a drunken birthday night celebration that leads to her meeting a trio of 20-something lads – Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) – who are trying their best to break into the Hollywood movie business.

The young men improbably end up staying in Alice’s guest house while they work on finishing the script for their first film. Before long they become an integral part of her life, from Alice embarking on a romantic relationship with Harry to George helping out Isabel with her school play. To quote the title of the director’s mother’s 2009 film – it’s complicated.

Except the film mistakes the kind of enjoyably frothy complexity exemplified by the best of the genre for skin-clawing convolution that renders much of the romantic and comedically-tinged drama of Alice’s life lacking in authenticity. Not that it needs the ring of truth that comes with, say, a Ken Loach picture but you need to be able to invest and believe in these characters’ lives as presented.

The approach to gender and generational relationships is simplistic which, of course, is nothing new to a genre that, at least in its Hollywoodized state, so often throws up films meant to be taken as easy-going fluff. But it’s particularly frustrating here when it squanders the potential thrown up with the initial concept of a woman trying to find herself again once she’s out of a stale relationship by entering into one with a much younger man.

It strangely seems far more interested in the plight of the three young men working as three cogs of one creative machine – director/producer, writer and actor – to get ahead in the movie business.  But even then it smacks of implausibility, like a cheap rom-com version of the bromance found in Entourage but without any of the snarky wit or Hollywood satire. Despite decent chemistry between a likeable assembled cast, Home Again is a tough pill to swallow as it rings false through and through.

3.5 out of 10

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin 0 454

This review was previously published at The National.

The world of celebrated children’s author A. A. Milne and the creation of his beloved Winnie the Pooh stories are chronicled in this frightfully polite biopic from director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) that flirts with dipping its toes into darker waters but steadfastly clings to safe tropes and always with its top button firmly fastened.

We start off in 1941 where we find an ageing Milne (Domhnall Gleeson in questionable make-up and greyed hair) and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) living on their secluded East Sussex farm. They receive a telegram informing them that their son, C.R. Milne, is missing presumed dead after heading off to fight in World War Two.

We then jump back in time to Milne on the front lines of the First World War. He returns from the fighting a changed man; suffering from PTSD (popped balloons evoking sudden gunfire et al.), becoming increasingly sick of just making people laugh with his West End plays and the general hustle-bustle that comes with big city life.

He convinces his reluctant wife to move to the country for some peace and quiet and where his infant son, Christopher Robin (played by Will Tilston at the younger age, Alex Lawther as he gets older), can go on the childhood adventures he deserves with the support of loving nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald).

Settling into the kind of serene life he craves, he is inspired to create Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his soon-to-be-beloved friends inspired by the stuffed animals with which his young son has become so enamoured. Unfortunately for Christopher – referred to by everyone as “Billy Moon” – his father uses his real name in the stories, turning him into one of the most famous boys in the nation.

Despite the obvious attraction of it exploring the world famous Pooh stories, it’s a film much more interested in the effect it has on a fractured family clinging on to peacefulness, not least the unwanted attention thrust upon a young boy who simply isn’t equipped to handle it and how his parents carry on oblivious.

If anything it takes a curiously bleak outlook on what these stories mean to the world once they’ve been put out there, conveying a somewhat confusing message for a film that ultimately wants us to celebrate these stories as immortally cherished tales; that the Winnie the Pooh embraced immediately by the public and has now stood the test of time for almost a century is in some way missing the point of what it truly means to the author and a son who, inadvertently or not, was used as a tool of innocence to sell the idea of an idyllic childhood in Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.

It’s bolstered by almost uniformly moving performances; Gleeson plays Milne with a kind of damaged empathy that makes you feel like you get to know the author beyond the public persona. Macdonald is oftentimes heart-breaking as Christopher’s devoted caregiver and Tilston walks away with the film as the adorably sweet-natured young Christopher. It’s only with Robbie that the film makes a misstep; she’s miscast as Milne’s wife and never stepping out of the shadow of cold motherly cliché.

In spite of its darker leanings, the film remains too buttoned up to properly wrestle with those themes in any sort of lasting way, far too polite to ever dive head first into the murky waters into which the drama intermittently peers.

Wrapped in Ben Smithard’s handsomely old-fashioned cinematography and soaked in Carter Burwell’s perpetually swelling score, it’s an aesthetically and emotionally appealing but nevertheless fairly vanilla period biopic best suited to being enjoyed on a rainy Sunday afternoon with tea and biscuits.

6.5 out of 10