I just walked out of a screening of Warner Brothers’ upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road. The first film in George Miller’s saga opened in 1979 and starred Mel Gibson, 2015’s version opens next week and stars Tom Hardy. I’m putting Fury Road ahead of any other film to be released this summer, with the possible exception of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, maybe even this year. True, there are still others yet to be released, but I’m not really expecting a lot from San Andreas and the Poltergeist reboot.
You should know a few things about me before you continue reading. First, I didn’t really like Avengers: Age Of Ultron as a whole. I’m a lifelong Marvel fan, who can cite issue numbers and artists and frames, the film left me wanting. Second, I don’t pretend I liked a movie if I couldn’t stand it. Third, I don’t do ‘chick flicks’, my favorite genre is science fiction. I was blown away by Fury Road.
The original first three films in the Mad Max saga are about a post apocalyptic world and the survival crazed people left fighting over the shady parts of sand. If this sounds like your idea of a rockin’ time, you may want to check out Wasteland Weekend. You may recall such memorable things as Mel Gibson’s wife and child being run down by a biker gang in the first, the characters and fargone costumes of Road Warrior (second film), and “two men enter one man leave” from Beyond Thunderdome (third film). I will admit to having a serious obsession with Thunderdome for several years when I was younger, I feel out of the trilogy it is the strongest film. The script is solid, the performances fantastic, and a cohesion that comes with a director’s progression in his craft. My ONE complaint about Fury Road was the unnecessary amount of fade out cuts, other than that, pretty damn happy.
The action is FRAKKING ridiculous. I say this as a compliment, because it starts within the first five minutes, and aside from two lulls, never really stops. Thinking about the orchestration that went into the sequences, the sheer amount of pyrotechnics used, and the stunt people!
I LOVE THE GUITAR GUY, I really do. His vehicle has something like 10 drummers and a wall of amplifiers. It’s pretty ridiculous, but somehow it works.
Let’s talk about Charlize Theron as Furiosa. Don’t let those naysaying early reviewer bastards fool you, she’s pretty damn awesome and capable, no damsel in distress here. She *is* rescuing a harem of scantily clad girls, but they do their fair share of saving themselves. Entertainment Weekly released this featurette about the character. They call the film a ‘feminist tale’, which isn’t a fair title. Yes, there are women, and some of them need to be saved. But not all of them. Do they spend time braiding each other’s hair and talking about boy trouble? NO, they fight for their lives and are not all such delicate flowers. I was a little disgusted by our audience when a few members laughed during the removal of steel teeth-lined chastity belts.
There have been several comparisons drawn between this character and Aliens heroine Ellen Ripley (maybe it’s the bald head, maybe it’s all the flamethrowers). The thing to remember is we had a full previous film to watch the development of Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal whereas we’re introduced to Furiosa as she’s climbing aboard her war rig. Can I see them sharing a drink at the Atomic Cafe after a long day of asskicking? Why yes, yes I can.
If you don’t do well with heavy action sequences and ungimballed camera motion, this film in 3D is not for you. (Director George Miller decided not to shoot in 3D, if you’re curious.) I did the 3D rendering test several times during the movie, lifting my glasses to see how much of the screen was fuzzy due to conversion. My hats off to the post conversion team, because everything looked fantastic. Fury Road is one of the films to benefit from a 3D viewing, at least in my mind. The scale of everything, the effects, the explosions, wonderfully done. There was one moment towards the end where pieces of a blown up vehicle come slowly flying through the depth of field towards the audience, and it felt like a really cheap play, it didn’t need it.
The villain Immortan Joe is every bit as creepy in the film as he is in the trailers and promo art. If you DIDN’T know, Hugh Keays Byrne, who plays Joe was ALSO Toecutter from the first Mad Max film.
I will say I was really hoping for a few more Mad Max easter eggs, the ones we got were a nice touch. I’m doing my best here not to spoil anything for viewers. If you like fast cars, tons of sand, and lots of explosions, go see this movie. If you like strong women characters that weren’t added as an afterthought, go see this movie. If you are a fan of George Miller’s earlier work, go see this movie, because it’s very much his style all grown up.
Aggressive Comix gives Mad Max: Fury Road two giant rock fists up. It opens worldwide on May 15th, 2015. See it in 3d.