Monday Movie: “Mad Max”

Original Mad Max Poster (1979) : MadMax

In a dystopian future Australia, the roads are run by violent marauders and gangs. Only a small few policemen stand against them, hoping to maintain some order and civilization. One such officer, Max (Mel Gibson) crosses paths with one of the more violent gangs led by a psychopath known as The Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne). When The Toecutter starts targeting Max’s partner and family, Max decides to take the law into his own hands, seeking revenge on The Toecutter and his gang.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Mad Max: Fury Road, and I was pleasantly surprised by the awesome action and insane moments. I decided to go back and watch the 1979 original, and the two barely resemble each other. Taking Mad Max on its own, there are some great moments of action and suspense. Max is a well thought-out and defined character whose vengeance-filled motives seem entirely justified. The other supporting roles, such as his partner Goose (Steve Bisley) and his wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) all play their parts well in establishing Max as an interesting character. In terms of action, it is much more limited than I expected. There are a few car/motorcycle chases and a couple gunfights. This makes it hard at times to actually see Mad Max as an action movie, since there are plenty of moments of down time.

All around, I found this movie to be particularly confusing. The pace is much slower than more modern action movies. It takes a while to establish the world, characters, and set up the villain. But once the movie does, it improves dramatically, as the villain and hero chase each other around through the back half hour of the short 90-minute run time. Mad Max might be great for someone who enjoys late 70’s and early 80’s action movies and viewers who can handle a slower pace. But if you’re looking for non-stop, edge-of-your-seat action, I suggest Fury Road instead.

Mad Max is rated R for violence and some sexuality.

Top 5 Historical Movies At The Library

Catch up on your history lessons with these excellent biopics and documentaries here at the library! Each movie examines a crucial moment or person in history. For more historical movies, click here!

Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright

During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly appointed British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.

12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup. It is 1841, and Northup, an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps and must find the strength within to survive. Filled with powerful performances by an astonishing cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave is both an unflinching account of slavery in American history and a celebration of the indomitable power of hope.

The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper

“The King’s Speech” presents a sideways glance at a crucial period in 20th-century history as the monumentally awkward Prince Albert, or Bertie, becomes King George VI unexpectedly in 1936 when his older brother Edward VIII abdicates to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson.

Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

They Shall Not Grow Old, directed by Peter Jackson

Through the lens of auteur Peter Jackson, anything can become magical. Although the First World War took place a century ago, Jackson’s determination has brought it back to life once again. With brilliant cinematic techniques, as well as an appreciation for those who fought these unbelievably difficult battles, Jackson brings this forgotten world into bold relief. His extraordinary talent captures the madness and sheer scale of what was to become one of our great modern tragedies as human beings.

Monday Movie: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Wikipedia

In 1938, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) works as a professor of archeology, that is, when he’s not traveling the world on adventures searching for ancient artifacts. When one such artifact is brought to his attention by Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), Indiana is intrigued. He decides to pursue the adventure when he learns that his own father, Professor Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) has gone missing in a pursuit of this artifact. What is this artifact? None other than the cup of Jesus, the way to immortality: the Holy Grail. Now Indiana must journey across the world in search of his father and the Grail while the always horrific Nazis close in.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade marks the last movie of the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Indiana has already battled the Nazis in the pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark and fought against an evil cult in Temple of Doom. Now, the trilogy turns back to focus on a religious artifact as the first one did. But this time, we are introduced to Indiana’s father, a character we have not met up until this movie. And the sub-plot of Indiana’s reconciliation with his father marks one aspect of this movie that makes it great. Clearly, obsessed with his work, we learn that Henry rarely spent time with Indiana as a child, something Indiana holds against him. But now, with an army of Nazis chasing behind them, and the Grail ahead, they must learn to work together. Here, actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery thrive. The witty banter back and forth, along with some of the more heartfelt moments, make this action movie stand out as having well-written and well-performed characters. These two incredible actors truly deliver, matching each other enough that the audience recognizes a father-son connection, and yet the two are different enough to create two memorable characters.

Beyond the incredible character work, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade fits right in its action-adventure genre. From boat chases, motorcycle chases, brawls, aerial dogfights, and a long battle on a tank, The Last Crusade has enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat. And its action holds up, even by today’s standards. On top of that, the film is witty, fun, and always exciting, with enough comic relief to remind the audience of some of the absurdity of it all. I highly recommend this movie for anyone wanting to see a classic action movie, or anyone interested in the work of the late Sean Connery. There is not a dull moment.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is rated PG-13 and is available in the Logos.

*review by Brennan Kress

Monday Movie: “The A-Team”

The A-Team (2010) | Movieweb


When a group of army rangers are framed for the killing of a high ranking army general, Hannibal (Liam Neeson), Face (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton Jackson), and Murdok (Sharlto Copley) must escape their various prisons and try to find the real culprit. But hot on their tail is both the army, led by Captain Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel), and a secretive and crafty C.I.A. agent who simply goes by Lynch (Patrick Wilson). Can this so-called “A-Team” catch the real criminals, or will the powers of the government catch up to them before they can clear their names?

The A-Team is based almost entirely off the 80’s television series of the same name. The movie acts as somewhat of a prologue to the television show while also being an homage to it. Fans of the original series may be presently surprised by Hannibal’s same level of craftiness, Face’s unabashed arrogance, Murdok’s insane antics, and B. A. Baracus still pitying fools just like Mr. T did over thirty years ago.

Beyond that, The A-Team shines as being an over-the-top action thriller, full of explosions, heists, car chases, and just about everything else in between. Hannibal acts as the leader coming up with complex and nearly impossible plans that stretch belief, such as maneuvering a tank and parachuting out of a plane by firing its cannon. But these kinds of impossible sequences are what make The A-Team so much fun. You have to stretch what you think is humanly possible, which might mean turning your brain off for the two-hour run-time.

And don’t worry, the plot is not complicated enough for you to have to think too hard. Though there are some classic movie twists, none should be too surprising for the average viewer. Characters grow in very predictable one-dimensional ways, and thus character development is a moot point. Instead The A-Team thrives on action around crazy set pieces, making it an awesome mindless popcorn spectacle, and nothing more.

*The A-Team is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language and smoking.

*The A-Team is available via Amazon Prime.

*review by Brennan Kress

Monday Movie: “Glory”

Glory is a Civil War movie about the Union’s first regiment of African-American soliders.

During the height of the Civil War, and after the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw is asked to lead the first regiment of African-American soldiers in the Union’s history. So, Shaw (Matthew Broderick) forms the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  And as his regiment grows, he struggles with both the reality that the Confederate forces will certainly kill him if caught, and the Union leaders who don’t respect the regiment and use them for manual labor. Shaw must not only make a fighting force out of untrained men, but also push for just the opportunity to fight in the war.


On the other side, Glory follows four African-American soldiers in Shaw’s division. They are Jupiter Sharts (Jihmi Kennedy) a somewhat slow and stuttering friend to all, and Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher), one of Shaw’s childhood friends who must now understand that his friendship with Shaw takes a backseat to his mission as a soldier. Then there’s John Rawles (Morgan Freeman) a once gravedigger who becomes the first African-American Sergeant Major in the 54th. Lastly, there’s Trip (Denzel Washington), a hardened ex-slave who struggles to see his enrollment in the army as anything more than just a second form of slavery. 


Glory might be one of the best war movies ever made. On the one hand it provides the epic battle sequences that have made the genre famous, while also addressing serious questions of bridging ethnic barriers which is still all-too relevant today. Glory provides a mostly historically-accurate portrayal of the actual events. At the same time, it manages to have the characters almost self-commentate on the events. Shaw’s real-life letters make up much of the narration of the movie, which allows the viewer to begin to grasp the reality they are viewing. And so, for me, I came to better understand the plights of all the characters presented and wanted all the more to see them succeed.
Glory offers a brutal depiction of the life of the men in the 54th Infantry. It accurately depicts the racist policies that even the Union still had, and how it took brave abolitionists, and even braver ex-slaves, to push back against those ideas and fight together for one united country. 


Glory is Rated R for strong brutal warfare, gory images, and language.

Glory is available in the Logos.

*Review by Brennan Kress.

Top 5 Movies By Women Directors At The Library

What are some of the best movies directed by women? The library has several excellent films that were made by women directors like Greta Gerwig, Kathryn Bigelow, Kasi Lemmons, and more. Check out the list below and get started on your movie-watching!

Film descriptions provided by the publishers c/o the library catalog.

Little Women directed by Greta Gerwig

Writer-director Greta Gerwig . . . has crafted a “Little Women” that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott, and unfolds as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life.

Harriet directed by Kasi Lemmons

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, the movie tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

Bright Star directed by Jane Campion

Nineteenth century poet John Keats and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, started out as unlikely lovers who were totally at odds with each other. However, when Brawne offers to help Keats nurse his seriously ill brother, the two soon became involved in an unstoppable romance that only his untimely death at age 25 could bring to a shattering end.

Selma directed by Ava Duvernay

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1964.

The Hurt Locker directed by Kathryn Bigelow

US Army Staff Sergeant Will James, Sergeant J.T. Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge comprise the Bravo Company’s bomb disposal unit stationed in Baghdad. While the three members face their own internal issues, they have to be aware of any person at the bomb sites, some of whom may be bombers themselves.

Monday Movie: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

In an apocalyptic future, Earth has become a desert wasteland. All of the planet is seemingly unlivable except one area where an evil tyrant named the Immortan Joe rules by having full control of a large supply of water. Not only does he control the water, but he controls the people by his army of War Boys, and his massive cars and trucks called War Rigs.

Against Immortan Joe stands Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who rescues Joe’s “wives” and embarks on a dangerous escape across the wasteland. With her is Max (Tom Hardy) who also escaped Joe’s grasp after being captured by him and used for his blood. Together, they brave the harsh wild on an exhilarating high-speed chase as Joe seeks to reclaim what he thinks is his.

Mad Max: Fury Road epitomizes a great action movie. The movie is, start-to-finish, an edge of your seat heart-racing thriller. The costume design, along with the set pieces (which are vehicles rather than places) instantly immerse you in this post-apocalyptic world. Viewers watch enraptured as the action unfolds, creating moments of stunning madness, and there’s more than just explosions to love. Director George Miller choreographs Cirque du Soleil levels of acrobatics into the action scenes. 

But, though the movie shines most in the action, it is more than that. Each character grows tremendously over the course of the movie. And questions of human dignity shine in strange ways, particularly in the development of one of the War Boys named Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a crazed worshiper of Immortan Joe, who is captured by Max and Furiosa. Through his experience with them and the women Furiosa is rescuing, he learns more about himself and goes from being a maddened zealot to a man willing to sacrifice himself for others.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a dark and violent display, matched by incredible cinematography and expert writing. It stands almost alone as one of the best action movies of the decade, and perhaps one of the best action movies ever made.

Mad Max: Fury Road is rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.

It is available on Amazon and Amazon Prime Video.

*review by Brennan Kress

How To Watch Movies On Reserve At The Library

Each semester, several professors add movies to their Reserve list at the library (you can learn more about how to check out Reserve items here). This means that we have their movies ready for you at the Circulation Desk. However, many of these movies can only be watched while in the library building. There are two main ways that you can watch a movie like this while in the library:

Use your laptop or a library desktop computer + a portable DVD drive.

DVD drives can be checked out from the Circulation Desk using your student ID just like movies and books. They will just need to stay within the library building. You can also check out headphones from the Circulation Desk if needed.

Check out the media room, #324.

The library’s media room, #324 on the third floor, is equipped with a TV and DVD player. You will need to come to the Circulation Desk with your student ID to check out the room’s key, as the media room remains locked to protect the media devices. You are also encouraged to reserve this room ahead of time, since it is often in use. You can reserve the media room and other study rooms on the library website- click this link to do that.

Monday Movie: “Despicable Me”

In Despicable Me, the world is shocked when an unnamed villain steals an entire pyramid! And amongst those who are confused is Gru (Steve Carell), a villain down on his luck who is looking for one more big score to send him off into the sunset. But this new villain has upped the ante, which leads Gru to come up with one more master plan. He is going to steal the moon!


However, he first needs a shrink ray, which has been taken by the pyramid stealer, a new and young villain who goes by Vector (Jason Segel). And his fortress seems impenetrable, except for three orphan girls who sell Vector cookies. And so Gru has a plan: adopt the three orphans, use them to get the shrink ray, and then steal the moon.


On the other side of this story sits Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who spend every day hoping that someone will adopt them. And so when Gru, pretending to be a dentist, adopts them, they are suspicious at first. Though Gru adopts them for nefarious purposes, he soon grows to love the girls and becomes torn between his goals as a villain and his new responsibilities as a father.


The movie is funny throughout, heartwarming, and contains an incredible message regarding the value of relationships. Gru’s Minions add a layer of hilarity and silliness to the movie that keep the viewers engaged through the main plot movements, though perhaps they don’t warrant their own movie like they got in 2015. The main characters are well thought out, though slightly one dimensional. The three girls each grasp on to one or two of their traits which is constantly brought up, and they don’t exactly change, except in their relationship to Gru. Gru, of course, changes the most, going from a jealous villain to a caring father.

This movie provides good family fun for all ages. It also contains an important message about caring for relationships over career. The only thing that might concern some parents is the fact that the main protagonist is a villain, though a villain that is silly and cartoonish, far from a violent monster or anything like that.


Despicable Me is available in the Logos.


Rated PG: rude humor and mild action.

*reviewed by Brennan Kress

Monday Movie: “The Wolverine”

the wolverine

After the harrowing events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan (Hugh Jackman) a.k.a. The Wolverine, has abandoned his life as a superhero and gone into exile. That is, until a mysterious mutant woman named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) tells Logan that someone would like to say goodbye (that someone being Yashida, a man whom Wolverine saved in the past). Convinced by Yukio to say goodbye, Logan goes to Japan where he meets Yashida again. But Yashida didn’t just want to say goodbye, he wanted to offer Logan a gift, the gift of mortality. Yashida promises he can remove Wolverine’s mutant powers so that he could live out a normal life. Logan refuses, but remains in Japan until Yashida passes.

Only after this do more events unfold as Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko, inherits his estate. This catches the attention of yakuza, ninjas, and mutants alike, leading Logan to question whether or not he should stay neutral or return to his superhero ways. Inevitably, Logan returns to his role as Wolverine as he journeys across Japan with Yukio in an attempt to rescue and protect Mariko. While this happens, Logan’s own mutant powers seem to fail him, forcing him to investigate that as well.

Compared to other superhero movies, The Wolverine stands out as having a very different tone. Far from the wise-cracks and corny jokes of movies like The Avengers, The Wolverine maintains a darker and more solemn tone. Wolverine is not Spider-Man, quipping and joking with the baddies. Instead, Wolverine fights with violent aggression and power, using his claws to great effect. In those terms, The Wolverine better resembles The Dark Knight than Iron Man. But this tone works perfectly for Wolverine, and his character shines through. Hugh Jackman is incredible as the classic superhero, delivering classic comic lines with ease and portraying a believable immortal mutant who is questioning why he is still around. On top of that, the supporting actors delivered equally impressive performances. However, because all of the side characters are introduced in this movie, many remain rather one-dimensional, arcing to one point or another, and all around it is Wolverine who definitely takes center stage.

Even though the action is incredible, and there are many interesting twists and turns, The Wolverine struggles to feel connected to the greater X-Men universe. Seven years removed from X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine had me trying to remember details about that movie that would fit in here. Besides some dream appearances of Jean Grey, Logan is the only recognizable face on the screen. Throwing him into Japan took him out of his element and left something to be desired. This level of discontinuity requires The Wolverine to be watched almost as a stand-alone movie. Besides the visions of Jean Grey, and the backstory of Logan’s character, a new viewer will not be lost in the world. This could be good for those whose first experience with Wolverine is this movie, and perhaps a downside to those who love the character.

In the end, The Wolverine delivers on action, which is what you’re paying to see. Otherwise, don’t expect some transcending plot or incredible twists here. Instead, come for the claws and classic comic tropes.

 

The Wolverine is rated PG-13 for: sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.

The Wolverine is available in the library.

*review written by Brennan Kress