Violence! Mayhem! Action! A superflous monster truck type vehicle whose only purpose is to carry drummers and a guitar player!
Buckle your seat belts, 3.5 readers. It’s time for Bookshelf Q. Battler’s review of Mad Max: Fury Road.
WARNING: POST-APOCALYPTIC SPOILERS AHEAD!
At the outset, this movie was a bit of a gamble for Hollywood. These days, movies are all about beauty, beauty, beauty and anyone or anything ugly? Adios. Sayonara. Today’s average movie goer wants to see nothing but attractive people and sets and Hollywood is often too scared to take a risk for an “outside the box” type of film. (And yes, believe it or not, even though this movie is a sequel to a trilogy, it still qualifies as unique in this day in age).
Yet, Mad Max takes place in a world ravaged by a nuclear apocalypse. The once fertile world has become a desolate wasteland. Between the dirt and sand as far as the eye can see and the rusty cars driven throughout the film, movie goers who are used to dazzling colors will need a moment to adjust.
Then there’s the ugliness. Don’t get me wrong, Charlize Theron aka Impersonator Furiosa is an ultra hottie and Tom Hardy is a handsome enough fellow (I can note that a man is pleasant looking without being accused of being accused of gayness, can’t I? Come on, it’s 2015 people!) they’re “uglied up” with soot and dirt while the bevy of baddies chasing them are grotesque, maimed, deformed etc.
But the gamble paid off. The post-apocalyptic world will likely not be a pretty place and Director George Miller captures that aspect and then some. And despite the aforementioned drab colors, the movie features some of the best action, fight scenes, and special effects that I’ve seen in a long time.
I wish I could tell you more about that but I wouldn’t want to SPOIL it for you.
I discuss the craft of writing often on this blog and “show, don’t tell” is the one of the writer’s cardinal rules.
Holy Smokes, 3.5 readers. For most of the first half of the movie, there’s a ton of showing and very little telling. Even with few words being spoken, the action tells us everything we need to know. (Watch the scene where Max and Furiosa meet for the first time and get back to me.)
The set up? Mad Max is taken hostage by a group of wackos ruled by “Immortan Joe” (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne who, fun fact, played “Toecutter,” in the very first Mad Max film way back in 1979.
Joe has some health problems, has to use a breathing apparatus and well, let’s just say like most of his lackeys, he’s not going to win any beauty contests any time soon.
Furiosa hijacks Joe’s wives (it’s a step up for them, believe me) and heads for “greener” pastures, namely the long lost homeland she was kidnapped from as a girl. Max gets snagged into the mess and ends up as the unwilling hero who eventually becomes willing.
The best part? With the exception of a few scenes, this movie is essentially one gigantic chase epic! It’s Joe’s flunkies in their rusty bolt buckets vs. Furiosa’s war rig.
Is this movie for everyone? Probably not. It does earn its R rating. If you’re a teetotaler when it comes to movies, you might want to find another flick to take in. I hear Pitch Perfect 2 is good. Go see that instead.
But for the rest of you action lovers, you won’t be disappointed.
Some final thoughts:
1) It reminded me how sad Mel Gibson’s major meltdown was. Millennials, have you ever heard of Mel Gibson? He was the original Mad Max. In fact, the movie made his career. He went on to great movies like the Lethal Weapon franchise and Braveheart just to name a few. Then he sort of just went nutsy cuckoo, going off on all manner of inappropriate crazy rants and long story short, he’s far from his original Hollywood golden boy status.
2) I get the impression this film was the cumulation of everything Director George Miller wanted to do in this post-apocalyptic world but lacked the special effects technology in the late 1970’s and early 1980s.
3) Speaking of, how cool and rare is it that a director of a movie franchise gets to direct the modern day sequel? (It’s not really a remake or a reboot so I guess sequel is the best label).
George Lucas, for example, met the wrath of fickle fans. He gave us Star Wars but fans have been crying for a new director ever since they laid eyes on Jar Jar and now JJ Abrams is at the helm.
Miller directed the original Mad Max Trilogy (Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) and thirty-six years later, he brought his vision back to the big screen. Artists are often separated from their art in the name of profit all the time, so a director being allowed to stand by his work is refreshing.
4) Where does Mad Max fit in when it comes to the science fiction world? It’s not space opera. There’s no technology. In fact, the absence of technology is the entire point of the film. Ultimately, the franchise’s major credit is that it gave birth to the Sci-Fi sub-genre of Post-Apocalyptic fiction.
5) Speaking of, let’s try our best to make the world a better place, ok? I know I’m just a blogger with 3.5 readers but global nuclear annihilation is a threat that’s just as real today as it was when the original films were made long ago. (Maybe even more so if you consider the fact that North Korea, a country that just executed a dude with a friggin’ anti-aircraft gun, has them.)
If you think about it, a Mad Maxian world where people revert to being savages clinging to rusty broken down cars is probably the BEST CASE SCENARIO of a nuclear war. In actuality, few people, if any would be left, let alone enough to start small civilizations.
We only have one world people and believe it or not, despite the many differences we claim to have, we’re all pretty much the same. We want success, stability, happiness, something to look forward to.
We all really need to reach a point where we can share the same planet without the subtle threat of “Cross me and I’ll blow the crap out of you” lingering in the background.
Save the world from ending up in the clutches of Immortan Joe, folks.
In conclusion, two men enter. One man leaves. That is the way of thunderdome.
(Really wish they could have worked that line into this one somehow.)