Opens in theaters around Aug 25
In 2015, George Miller made his first movie in 23 years that wasn’t a pro-environmentalism jukebox penguin musical or a surprisingly intense fairy tale about a pig in a city. Mad Max: Fury Road was a resuscitation of the franchise that put the doctor-turned-filmmaker on the map all the way back in 1979, this time with decades of pent-up energy, the latest in modern filmmaking technology, and a new lead actor. It was a worldwide hit and was up for ten Academy Awards; it won six and has the distinction of being one of the only action movies nominated for Best Picture. Most importantly, it showed us that weird, personal blockbusters could still take our breath away.
In short, that film’s success led to a blank check status for Miller. And how did he cash that check? He said, “I’m going to spend $60 million to hang out with Tilda Swinton and make a kick-ass djinn movie and nobody can tell me otherwise.” Based on the A.S. Byatt short story The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, Swinton plays a scholar who frees a pointy-eared, wish-granting Idris Elba from a glass bottle; magic and romance ensue. Pretty straight-forward premise, but Miller is not one to shy away from going big.
The film premiered at Cannes and immediately divided audiences. So have many other great movies, but even in the lukewarm reviews, the word most used to describe it was “ambitious.” Me, I’d rather have an ambitious mess than a safe bet any day.