Good As Gold May Recap: ‘The Fall Guy,’ ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘IF,’ and ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ (2024)

The first few months of the year are often a drag at the theater. Sure, we get an occasional contender prior to May – this year it was Dune Part 2 – but for the most part, January through April is just spent getting excited for what lies ahead.

I kicked off May with former stuntman turned director David Leitch’s The Fall Guy. Ryan Gosling stars in the titular role of a down-on-his-luck stuntman trying to resurrect his career on the set of his ex-girlfriend’s (Emily Blunt) directorial debut. Things go haywire when the star of the film, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, goes missing, and the film’s producer (Hannah Waddingham) recruits the stuntman to find the absent actor.

I adore Ryan Gosling. He is one of my favorite actors and has starred in two of my ten favorite films of the past decade (La La Land and First Man). I love Emily Blunt as well, and feel the pair are two of the most talented actors working today. But I just did not like The Fall Guy at all. A film as silly as this MUST be consistently funny for the premise to work. At the very least, the chemistry between the two leads is non-negotiable. And on both ends, The Fall Guy crashes to the floor with no safety net. Silly and unfunny is not a good combo. The Fall Guy felt like it was trying to juggle too many genres – action, romance, comedy, thriller – and ended up being an incoherent mess. A major disappointment and an enormous missed opportunity to honor the stunt community and the work they do behind the scenes.

I can’t say I cared much more for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, despite my love for the original 1968 version starring Charlton Heston and the recent reboot trilogy (Rise, Dawn, War). Among the many issues I had with Kingdom, the biggest problem was its setting “many generations” after Caesar. Considering a generation is typically 20-30 years and that many implies 10 or more according to Marquette law, Kingdom is set anywhere between 200-500 years after Caesar. Then why does the film feel like it is set closer to 10 years down the road? The numerous connections to the past felt inconsistent with the timeline and detracted from the film’s continuity.Good As Gold May Recap: ‘The Fall Guy,’ ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘IF,’ and ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ (1)

While the visuals, set designs, and effects are often stunning, they are not showcasing anything new or special in today’s effects-driven film industry. At 2 hours 25 minutes, Kingdom could have benefitted from tighter editing. Despite plenty of exciting confrontations and action sequences, for every step forward, the story takes two steps back into a lull. I was hoping the film would continue the ambitious storytelling of the previous three installments. A leaner screenplay and a less heavy-handed approach to the “man is inherently bad” theme might have improved this otherwise arbitrary and forgettable chapter in the franchise.

John Krasinski’s exceptionally sweet film, IF, takes us a couple of steps up the ladder. Every scene overflows with sentiment, from the impossibly perfect father to the countless heartwarming moments. Interestingly, the movie also has darker undertones. Young Bea (Cailey Fleming) can see other people’s former imaginary friends. Her mother has died after a battle with cancer, and her father is in the hospital awaiting open-heart surgery. Bea uses this quirky ability to escape reality and reconnect adults with their childhood playmates.

Krasinski’s film is better than critics are giving it credit for. It’s a heartwarming family film, bolstered by strong performances from Fleming and Ryan Reynolds. The A-list voice cast includes Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Steve Carrell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., Jon Stewart, Sam Rockwell, Richard Jenkins, Awkwafina, Maya Rudolph, among others. Brad Pitt even delivers an outstanding cameo. However, the real star of IF is composer Michael Giacchino, who turns out another banger score. For over 20 years, we’ve been privileged to witness his genius. It’s time to recognize Giacchino as one of the all-time great film composers.

IF is a film many kids will enjoy for its silliness and creativity, as it is aimed at their level. However, its excessive sweetness can be a bit overwhelming for adult audiences. If the film had focused more on appealing to the little kid inside all of us adults, it could have been something truly special.

After several disappointments, I approached George Miller’s dystopian Mad Max prequel, Furiosa, with slight trepidation, hoping the film could redeem the month. And boy, did it deliver!

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga provides the origin story of the character Charlize Theron made iconic in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Anya Taylor-Joy steps into the role of a younger Furiosa, the formidable driver of Immortan Joe’s war rig.

Set in the early days of a post-apocalyptic Earth, Furiosa’s backstory unfolds in a world where food and greenery are scarce. As a young girl, Furiosa is kidnapped by a desert biker gang led by the crazed and sociopathic Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). She spends the next decade seeking revenge on the man responsible for tearing her from her home and brutally torturing her mother. Along the way, she befriends Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), a revered road warrior who teaches her how to survive in the sun-scorched hellscape.Good As Gold May Recap: ‘The Fall Guy,’ ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘IF,’ and ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ (2)

What makes Furiosa so captivating is that despite existing in an insane and chaotic world, she exhibits shrewd restraint, fueled by a quiet strength and control. This makes her quest to survive the Wasteland all the more compelling. Taylor-Joy is a powerhouse in the role, embodying the cold toughness and ruthless determination that we saw in Theron’s soulful performance. While the action sequences, imaginative world-building, stunning visuals, and bleak narrative masterfully connect the films, Taylor-Joy brings a thematic and poignant weight to Furiosa that adds depth to the Mad Max saga. Watching the films back-to-back will undoubtedly enrich Fury Road’s legacy.

Hemsworth shines as Dementus, the savage and ambitious warlord hellbent on absolute power and control of the Citadel. Each line he delivers is soaked with blood and panache. He seems to be having the time of his life in the film. His performance is a highlight, and I hope to see him take on more roles like this in the future.

Furiosa is expertly crafted, shot, and edited, much like its six-time Oscar-winning predecessor. Fury Road received nominations for Picture, Director, and an astounding eight craft categories, setting a high bar. Furiosa more than lives up to this legacy – a magnificent spectacle of death destruction, revenge, and resolve.

As for the Oscar chances of the films I saw in May, The Fall Guy and IF seem like unlikely contenders. However, Furiosa and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (given its nominations for Rise, Dawn, and War) could be strong contenders for Visual Effects. Furiosa, in particular, could repeat Fury Road’s success with nominations in Cinematography, Editing, Costumes, Makeup, Production Design, and Sound. While Director and Picture nods are long shots, especially given its poor early box office results, one can still hope.

What did you see in May, and what do you feel has a shot with Oscar?


Tags: Anya Taylor-JoyEmily BluntFuriosaIF movieKingdom of the Planet of the ApesMad MaxRyan GoslingRyan ReynoldsThe Fall Guy

Good As Gold May Recap: ‘The Fall Guy,’ ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘IF,’ and ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ (2024)


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