FILM REVIEWS. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and The Garfield Movie

The BBC’s international hit Peaky Blinders held four of its six star-studded premieres in Westside at Cineworld Broad Street. Series one and two were launched back in 2013 and 2014, followed by series four in 2017 and the final series six in February 2022.

The future 2024 Oscar winner Cillian Murphy was among the stars attending in 2014. Sadly we didn’t see Anya Taylor-Joy – who played Gina Gray in the last two series of Peaky – thanks to her cinema career also taking off with Last Night in Soho, The Northman, The Menu and Dune: Part Two. 
From today, Miami-born Anya, aged 28, is holding court in our brilliant Westside multiplexes as the energetic star of her most explosive film yet. Go, girl!

FURIOSA – A MAD MAX SAGA (15, 148 mins) The 2015 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road remains one of the best action movies of the century. This prequel is a stand-alone back story of the Imperator Furiosa character, originally played by Charlize Theron.

When her even younger self (Alyla Browne) is snatched from the Green Place of Many Mothers, Anya Taylor-Joy’s maturing version of the character will become a vengeance-driven warrior.

But, with bikers’ warlord Dr Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) set to battle Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), can Furiosa survive to return home?

Aussie director George Miller launched Mel Gibson’s career in the first Mad Max film back in 1979, with sequels following in 1981 and 1985 before Fury Road in 2015.

Verdict:  ***** Yes, a rarwe five stars from me! If you want pile-driving, top gear action and a ‘fast and furiosa’ no-nonsense woman of few words (think Arnie in The Terminator) then start queuing for popcorn now. 

Shot in New South Wales, this is exactly the kind of high-octane ‘Saga’ trip that many people will want to enjoy on a Bank Holiday weekend.

Fury Road might still be the daddy of the series, but here Anya is offering Taylor-made Joy and Hemsworth puts in his best gear shift since his brilliant F1 drama Rush (2013) inadvertently led to him being almost chained up by Marvel.

Unmissable in the intense IMAX and 4DX premium screens at Cineworld or in iSense and Dolby Screen formats over at Odeon Broadway Plaza, this desert-bound Furiosa will certainly deliver far more value than boxer Tyson Fury managed in Saudi Arabia last week.

But be warned… although the often brutal violence is a fictionalised echo of real battles worryingly dominating world news, some viewers might find one maternal scene unbearably harrowing.

The big surprise is not that even a 79-year-old writer-director like Miller can still hit top form with a film of such visceral energy and thought-provoking madness. Instead, remember that during his non-Max years he aimed squarely at tots with the talking pig Babe movies (1995 / 1998) and the animated dancing penguins with Happy Feet (2006 / 2011). Now that’s mad… to the max!

THE GARFIELD MOVIE (U, 101 mins). Indiana-born creator Jim Davis, now 78, saw Garfield became one of the world’s most syndicated comic strips after its debut on June 19, 1978.

But if Bill Murray voicing the ginger tom’s thoughts in the first live action movie (with CGI cat) 20 years ago was a laboured experience, the 2006 sequel, A Tail of Two Kitties, was even worse.

Here, Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) voices the now all-animated but still admirably lazy kitty who has an unexpected reunion with his scruffy street cat dad Vic (Samuel L Jackson).

Verdict: ** The world’s favourite Monday-hating, lasagne-loving cat looks less like a kitty and even more akin to the moustached, long-forgotten TV-am reporter Mike Morris, who died in 2012 aged 66.

Whilst younger viewers will find this reasonably funny, if instantly forgettable, there’s a palpable lack of insight into ill-tempered adult sarcasm for older viewers to chew on.

At least this Garfield gets out of the house for a ‘roadkill’, multi-creature adventure so typical of modern animations, even if the action-driven plot is overly keen to spoof Mission: Impossible and is littered with product placement references.

Though better than 20 years ago, Garfield still belongs in newspapers instead of once again falling behind the likes of The Spongebob SquarePants Movie (2005) in cinemas.

Picture credits: The Garfield Movie, Sony Pictures; Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Warner Bros.


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