What a film, what a lovely film! (yeah somebody probably already made that kinda joke, but it was either that or saying “review” instead, and there’s plenty of those jokes). But hey, at least I’m finally BEYOND THUNDERDOME. Heyohhh!
Who’d have thought in this day and age that an action film like Mad Max: Fury Road would get so much acclaim, become so popular, and get TEN Oscar nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Director, resulting in being the second most nominated film for the 88th Academy Awards? Weird how some things can seem like a sign of moving forward for the Oscars, while some things aren’t exactly [insert “Oscars So White” joke here]. And yeah it didn’t win Best Picture, but it still won Oscars, production values sure, and that’s gotta be something.
Now I’ll be honest, I hadn’t actually watched the Mad Max movies in their entirety until it was official that this one was being made, but I know how long it took to get this one out. I wanted to, but either didn’t have the time or energy for it. Shortly before the movie did come out and I saw it in theaters, I bought the blu-ray collection of the first three films and instantly loved them. I liked the low-budget thriller/exploitation feel of the first, the “rock’n’roll” post-apocalyptic feel of the second, and the craziness of the third. This one, the fourth film, is more like the second, but with some craziness of the third and something else as well. I know a lot of people have talked so much about this film, but I guess that what makes it so great and so unique yet also similar to what came before is how it twists some things around for both fans and newcomers to the franchise it just makes it so great. It manages to find a balance between both practical and extravagent visuals while also being able to run wild with its imagination and craziness, ultimately becoming awesome as a result.
This is a non-stop, visually stunning, thunderous spectacle from beginning to end. It is largely one big chase going from one end to the next, but oh boy what a chase it is. There’s lots of crazy drivers dressed in war paint and wearing outlandish armor, vehicles of various shapes and sizes, and of course some random guy in long johns (I think?) holding a guitar that shoots out flames for some reason while standing on top of a truck with gigantic speakers. What else could one expect for a movie of this magnitude? A lot of wild, crazy fun. During all this, it’s also able to tell a compelling story not just by talking, but mostly through the movement and facial expressions, which enables the audience to get an idea of what these characters are and what they’ve been through, whether they see it right away or figure it out later as the movie comes along.
Of course, despite his name being in the title, this movie is not wholly centered on Max himself. Furiosa (played excellently by Charlize Theron) is the main focus, while “Mad” Max Rockatansky (played by Tom Hardy, surprisingly well in comparison to Mel Gibson I might add) is sorta the driving (pun sorta intended) force that kinda moves the plot along. In fact, looking back at the other movies, Max isn’t exactly the center of the story, except for the first movie of course, but rather the other films, including this one, are more about the people and the world they inhabit, and what they are doing in order to survive and live out the apocalyptic wasteland they are in, and how he plays a part in it and witnesses everything that transpires. Through the journey Max undertakes in the previous movies and this one, he is sorta regaining a sense of humanity he lost in the first one after the death of his family, by helping people find a better place than the one they’re stuck in.
However, Max is a wanderer, a warrior of the wasteland that comes and goes as he pleases, minding his own business, and being dragged into conflicts he initially doesn’t want any part of, but ultimately chooses to be on the side of good and help those in need, because if he really were a cruel man, he’d either not help or simply try to control or destroy everything around him. Furiosa, meanwhile, is actively on the side of good, or at least trying to help those in need. She’s been a part of a community, the Citadel, run by Immortan Joe, (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played main villain Toecutter in the first film), and how he manipulates and abuses its denizens by offering it water in exchange for a sense of security and protection, but really underlying an authoritarian, dictatorial control of them at his beck and call, and using women for breeding and nothing more, they’re just “things” to him. There are of course similarities to Humongous from The Road Warrior, in both visual and characteristics, but whereas Humongous was a savage yet somewhat calculating being trying to get gas, in a world where it is in short supply, and control no matter the cost, Immortan Joe already rules over his own domain, having plenty of a natural resource, that being water, and controls people with it by giving them scarce amounts despite there being plenty of it and saving the rest for himself and his followers. While she wants to help them, right now his “wives” are the only ones she can save, and she at least wants to get herself and them somewhere far away, that being “the green place” (even though it’s become just as desolate as other parts of the wasteland) because anywhere is better than a place with Immortan Joe and his goons, most of them being his “sons”, and his associates. Together, with the “wives” (played by Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and others), Nux (played by Nicholas Hoult), and the warrior women clan of the Vuvalini, they all find a sense of companionship and comradery that neither of them have felt in a while, and through that they try to do what’s right, even with all the insanity and chaos around them, by getting to a better place, which oddly enough ends up being the Citadel, the place they were escaping to begin with, so this whole movie literally goes back and forth between places.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a chaotic gem of a movie, and that definitely goes without saying. With all the acting, visuals, writing, directing, and overall awesomeness that this movie exudes, I am glad that it came out and it’s so well-beloved and has become a landmark for both action cinema and cinema in general. Even better, with more Mad Max movies being made after this (at least I hope so, I keep hearing back and forth things on that subject, but I’m an optimist at heart sometimes so I hope they happen), I can’t wait to see what aspect of this rock ‘n rollin, fuel-injected, monster of an apocalypse, and overall “mad” world that writer/director George Miller and everyone else involved will bring. All’s I can say is, it better not be…MEDIOCRE! Maybe we’ll all find Valhalla in it or something. I don’t know I’m running out of awkward Mad Max puns here, sue me lol.