The Movie to See This Week: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Every week, the Cheat Sheet Entertainment staff selects the top three movies to catch in theaters. Here are our top picks for this week.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Rebooting a cult action movie franchise can be a tricky business, to say the least. Just compare the critical rankings of recent reboots like Total Recall and Robocop to the original films. Many times the best a filmmaker can hope for is grudging acceptance from the fans of the original movies. However, Mad Max: Fury Road appears to be one of those rare instances when a rebooted movie has equaled or even surpassed the originals. The original series of post-apocalyptic movies — Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) —  have all achieved 80% Certified Fresh ratings or higher from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Similarly, the just-released Mad Max: Fury Road has already earned a stellar 99% rating.

Helmed by original trilogy director George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road stars Tom Hardy as the titular character, Charlize Theron as the one-armed Imperator Furiosa, and Hugh Keays-Byrne as a tyrannical cult leader named King Immortan Joe. After liberating a group of enslaved women and forging an alliance with Max, Furiosa sets off across the desert landscape with Joe and his motley band of fanatical followers in hot pursuit. And that is where the fun really begins, as Miller demonstrates his virtuoso action directing skills with what is essentially a movie-length car chase that never loses coherence, despite packing in everything from a flame-throwing guitar to a massive sand storm.

And if over-the-top dystopian action films aren’t your thing, you could still purchase a ticket for Mad Max: Fury Road as a statement in support of gender equality. Charlize Theron’s character has apparently raised the ire of so-called “Men’s Rights Activists” who feel that a butt-kicking antislavery fighter with a buzz cut threatens their definition of traditional gender roles.

2. Pitch Perfect 2

Our second selection this week is another sequel that is generating as much buzz among fans of musical comedies as Mad Max: Fury Road is among action movie aficionados. Pitch Perfect 2 is the follow-up to 2012’s sleeper hit Pitch Perfect, which told the story of several collegiate women’s a capella groups competing against each other for the national title. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Pitch Perfect 2 features many of the same actors that appeared in the original — including Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, and Alexis Knapp – as well as several newcomers, such as Hailee Steinfeld and Chrissie Fit.

This time the Barden University Bellas must win an international competition in order to return to the a capella performing circuit after “Fat Amy” (Rebel Wilson) has an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Pitch Perfect 2 currently has a 69% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes who noted that the film “sings in sweet comedic harmony, even if it doesn’t hit quite as many high notes as its predecessor.”

3. Slow West

Our third choice this week is unique entry into the Western genre from first-time feature film director and writer John Maclean. Set in the late 1800s, Slow West tells the story of Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a naïve 16-year-old boy who is traveling across America’s frontier looking for a woman he loves. Along the way, he enlists the help of Silas (Michael Fassbender), an embittered ex-bounty hunter who nevertheless develops an emotional connection with his idealistic traveling companion.

Slow West premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year where it garnered World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic Winner honors. The film has been earning rave reviews from the critics and currently has a 90% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, who call it “an inventive treat for fans of the Western.”

All movie cast, crew, and awards information courtesy of IMDb.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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