For almost 45 years, writer, producer and director George Miller has created a diverse range of films. From the high-octane "Mad Max" action series to more creative animated projects, like "Happy Feet," Miller knows how to craft vibrant pieces of cinema. Miller’s last film, "Mad Max: Fury Road," proved he had finally cemented his style with extravagant colors and astounding technical achievement.
Seven years later, Miller has returned with his newest film Three Thousand Years of Longing, joining the ranks of his filmography proudly as one of the most visually interesting, unique films released this year.
The film joins the catalog of various films, like "Babe: Pig in the City" to contrast the "Mad Max" franchise, visually and thematically. The film tells the story of lonely narratologist Alithea Binnie, played by Tilda Swinton, who purchases an antique bottle on a trip to Istanbul. While inspecting the lamp at her hotel, Binnie accidentally releases the Djinn, played by Idris Elba, trapped inside of it. The Djinn tells Binnie that he will grant her three wishes if she agrees to release his trapped soul.
The film’s narrative plays out in a series of cautionary tales told by the Djinn as to why Binnie should or shouldn’t ask for particular wishes. These tales are where the real meat of the film lies. The stories are grand spectacles filled with battles, complex ballrooms and gorgeous fantasy kingdoms, encapsulating Miller’s directing and technical skills well. Swinton and Elba perform well throughout the film and carry surprisingly strong chemistry.
Though the story and visuals make for an interesting film, they do not make a perfect one. There are moments where viewers may think they know what is going to happen, only for the plot to split in a confusing or non sequitur way. Additionally, the final moments of the film may create some confusion as to what Miller was trying to say with the cautionary tales and how they relate to Binnie.
Whenever the film shifts away from these grand fantasy worlds, there seems to be a dip in quality as the film returns to the modern world. Miller had an ambitious vision for this movie that he seems to fumble with during the film's climax and conclusion, hoping to reflect on the grandeur of the fantasy scenes while unable to match their scope.
If you are a viewer who is fine with not grasping a film’s meaning the first go around and enjoy picking more upon subsequent viewings, then you may enjoy this one. If you’d prefer a more straightforward, unchallenging film, then "Three Thousand Years of Longing" may not be something you enjoy.
The film has an excellent sound design and score, great acting and stellar visuals, but does not always hit the right plot beats. Though this may not do much to entice "Mad Max" fans or viewers who avoid eccentric and weird films, "Three Thousand Years of Longing" is a wild, big-budget experiment that could be one of the strangest blockbusters in recent memory — a fact that mostly works in the film's favor.