It's been too long since I've seen it for me to comment on specifics, but I recall some of the action scenes in Captain America 2 being by far the best of the recent wave of Marvel movies. The Russo Brothers had mentioned what a huge influence The Raid (Which I still think is the highest benchmark for action scenes in the 2010s or so) had been on the way they thought of action scenes, and I thought they showed a good effort to do stripped down, comprehensible, tension filled action scenes up until the obligatory big CGI action and explosions finale.
Anyways the comparison I'd pick would be Avengers 2, because it's what I've seen most in recently, and because Joss Whedon does a pretty good job of handling character development amid his big action sequences, but I don't think the way he shows action is done particularly well, which makes a more interesting point of comparison to me than a random film that fails at both.
I still might have to be slightly vague, going on memory, but once these films come out on DVD, I'd be more than happy to break down two action scenes from each shot by shot, if anyone's still interested in diving into that kind of minutiae.
In Avengers 2 there's a big cool set piece where a huge piece of land is launched into the sky becoming basically a floating island, which I thought would make the geography of the scenes pretty clear, but outside the CGI establishing shots, I was frequently confused if we were seeing people on the floating island or back on earth. Again, to Joss Whedon's credit there's plenty of good interaction between characters that pays off relationships set up earlier in the movie... and Joss Whedon puts people in danger which the heroes then have to save, which makes for good mini objectives amongst the main objective. But the enemies are just a generic swarm of Ultron's robot army, which don't seem to be dangerous at all to our heroes (whether it's a god like Thor, or just exceptional humans like Hawkeye or Black Widow). All the heroes seem to be able to pick them off without breaking a sweat, which gives me no sense of danger or of the different abilities or tactics of each hero. Hulk smash, Thor's hammer, Captain America's shield, Hawkeye's arrows etc. all seem to equally just make the robots explode and are quite interchangeable in any given moment.
When Joss Whedon goes for a character moment, like having Hawkeye talk Scarlet Witch into having confidence in herself, this manifests itself in her effortlessly dispatching waves and waves of Ultron robots. This undercuts any strength this scene would've had since apparently all she had to do was decide that she wants to fight, and the actual task of engaging in combat proves to be quite effortless for her when she's made up her mind.
I think Mr Sausage has done a good job of describing the strengths of Mad Max's action sequences, I do think there is room for improvement, but it was definitely a lot better than the action movies I've watched recently. Again for examples of things I would say were better, I think it could've taken more time with certain set pieces to really raise the tension like in Wages of Fear, or if it wanted to go in a more fun direction, I was secretly hoping the guys swinging on poles at the end would end up going the Hong Kong action route where you feel like every possible use for the set piece is explored like in the end ladder fight scene in Once Upon a Time in China. Not to say that Mad Max should have more gravity defying flips, but just the idea of starting with a simple premise and steadily building the complexity of how its used over the course of a long action scene.
domino harvey wrote:Miller may have indeed used almost all practical effects, but when they're thrown together so rapidly as to distract from the individual movements within the larger set-pieces (as in the first action sequence wherein Furiosa's band of protectors are attacked by identical-looking aggressors and respective cars and combatants get tossed without much regard for distinction between the two factions), it doesn't seem to matter that much. I'd have rather Miller used CGI in a creative way to allow for more clear distinctions between players and their behaviors and actions, because I'm afraid I don't share the "choreography" praise for this film's action "noise," as David M astutely put it. Also, these things probably wouldn't have stuck out as much if the film's action scenes (scene?) didn't feel so monotonous!
I guess I had a better experience with this scene. The second raiding party having all their vehicles completely covered in spikes was enough of a visual clue for me to distinguish them from the main group they were escaping from. The first few smaller cars were more easily disposed of to demonstrate their overall tactics and then the bigger more difficult to destroy vehicle escalated the scene. Seeing how easily the War Boys were willing to wrecklessly endanger themselves or take suicidal actions in the chase also added to the tension of Max being chained to one of their cars, which was another smaller obstacle that had to overcome amidst the larger chase scene. My memory of the exact timeline of the details isn't 100% clear, but was the rest Furiosa's party also starting to realize her plans of treachery at this time, or was that slightly earlier?