***½/**** Image B Sound B+ Extras B
starring Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Steve Bisley, Hugh Keays-Byrne
written by James McCausland and George Miller
directed by George Miller
by Walter Chaw George Miller's films are warnings against dehumanization, against valuing machineries over intuition and emotions. It's what drives the Holocaust parable at the heart of his masterpiece, Babe: Pig in the City; what made him the perfect match for Twilight Zone: The Movie's remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Though terms like "visionary" and "auteur" are as overused as they are misused, Miller is both. He's a rarity in the modern conversation: an aging director who shows no signs of a slackening energy or diminished focus. See also in Miller's work an unusual sensitivity to physical deformity set up against a righteous offense at spiritual blight. (He began his career as a trauma physician.) His films seek to do no harm, but sometimes you need to cut out some healthy tissue to get at the disease. All of it--the work as a doctor, the scrappiness, the impulsiveness that led to his strapping an airplane jet on a car and hoping no one would die (no one did)--is part of a creation mythology for Miller that's as fulsome as Herzog's. Testament to Miller's enduring influence and outsider status: he's a sainted figure, for good reason.