Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Title: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Hugh Keays Byrne, Rosie Huntington, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz

Mad Max: Fury Road is insanity caught on film! It’s 100% purely bonkers! It harkens back to the glory days of the 80’s, when even the craziest of ideas would get green lit by a studio. Mad Max: Fury Road is the long awaited return of Max Rockatansky to the silver screen. Oh how I had been longing for this day! You guys know how much I love post apocalyptic yeah, I was pumped for this one. I’ve re-watched these movies with a vengeance, over and over again throughout the years and I’m sure I am not alone. People love these movies! But why? Why the obsession? I think its because they are about cars, speed, revved up, tricked up engines and spectacular vehicular mayhem.  Who doesn't love a cool cinematic car crash? Much less a whole film filled with them? No other series offers that better then the Mad Max movies. People also enjoy the post-apocalyptic angle of these films, another area in which these films deliver like no other movie can. It’s no wonder these films have influenced thousands of rip offs, with thousands others using Mad Max as their blue print. And let’s not forget, this is Mel Gibson’s most iconic role, it’s the one he’ll always be remembered by. So we’re talking about a legendary series of films here. And thanks to the cinematic gods, here we are back again! Back to post apocalyptic world of Mad Max, thirty years after the last Mad Max movie! Did they wait too long to make this film? Would director George Miller capture that Mad Max magic again? Would Tom Hardy prove himself worthy of playing the role of Max Rockatansky?

This time around Max is still surviving in the post apocalyptic waste land, just like everybody else. After a nuclear meltdown destroyed humanity (as seen in The Road Warrior (1982), the world is one messed up place, with small groups of humans spreading themselves thin throughout the world. Society has been unable to rebuild itself from the ruble. All that is left is animalistic craziness, humans surviving on their basic instincts. All they care about is food, water and procreating so that humanity can live on. Immortan Joe, the despotic leader of one of these ram shackle societies, has five wives with whom he is always trying to have babies with. He feeds on freshly squeezed breast milk and he is obsessed with one of his wives, who is pregnant with his baby. Too bad for him that one of his cronies, a woman named Imperator Furiosa (Theron), decides to go her on way and steals one of Immortan Joes trucks! Her plan is to return to her childhood home, a green paradise filled with enough water and green trees for everyone. Imperator Furiosa also steals Immortan Joes five wives, including the pregnant one! Will Immortan Joe allow this? Will Imperator Furiosa make it to her home town and how does Mad Max Rockatansky fit into all of this?   

Mad Max: Fury Road was directed by legendary filmmaker George Miller, the guy behind the original Mad Max trilogy of films: Mad Max (1979), The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). He also made The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Babe Pig in the City (1998) and in a turn towards the dramatic, Lorenzo’s Oil (1992). If we look at his repertoire, most of his films show an emphasis on the visuals. Even Babe: Pig in the City, a children’s film, displays a huge amount of care in constructing a visually interesting world, something we can really dig our retinas on. This was essentially the approach that Miller took with Mad Max: Fury Road, a film with very little dialog, and a whole lot of action. It almost fells like a silent film in this way, feelings and emotion are displayed through action rather than words. When designing this film, Miller asked that the art direction be as colorful and beautiful as possible in order to set itself apart from most post apocalyptic films, which usually have a bleak color palette. This is something that is extremely evident on Mad Max: Fury Road. Even though the film feels extremely familiar, like we’re entering Miller’s post apocalyptic vision once again, the film definitely sets itself apart from previous Mad Max films. It’s the most visually striking and colorful of all the films in the franchise. There’s this awesome moment in which what is happening in the film is so visually awesome that one of the characters says “What a lovely day!” My sentiments exactly. This movie is truly beautiful to look at.

The big attraction with these films are the cars and the stunts performed with them, which are amazing as expected. The cars on this film are awesome; they are filled with skulls and spikes and whatever else they could think of. Big tires, flame throwers, machine guns, guys hanging from tent poles, they really went crazy with the car designs for this movie, seeing them in action is a delight on itself. I was worried that George Miller would succumb to computer generated effects the way that most filmmakers have, and while he does use computer effects to an extent, he doesn't do entire sequences completely rendered in a computer, which is a delight for me. Most of the vehicular mayhem happens right in front of the cameras. Of course, Miller does use computer generated technology, but he uses in an artful manner, to enhance what he has already filmed, to make it beautiful. Like a painting. He doesn't create a world inside the computer; he enhances the world he has already filmed, which is the best way that you can use cgi, and I applaud Miller for that. It shows that he wasn't about being a lazy filmmaker, where  75% of his film happens inside of a computer, no sir, Miller is a real, true blue, bonafide filmmaker who cares about shooting a film in front of the camera. He cares about constructing a shot, about creating a specific look, an atmosphere. Special effects are but a tool to enhance. So kudos to Miller, you made my day sir! You might be 70 years old, but same as Ridley Scott (who’s well into his 70’s) you sir are still making amazing films. Dare I say this is one of your best films ever? Mr. Miller, I salute you man! Your cinematic expertise shows through and through on Mad Max: Fury Road!

The thing I loved the most about this movie is that it’s so heavy metal, 80’s style heavy metal. Skulls, bones and rock & roll are infused into every strand of dna of this film! How so? Well, there’s this awesome vehicle that is basically a moving rock and roll stage, that is composed of drums and amplifiers and drummers and a crazy dude, hanging from wires, riffing on his heavy metal guitar! It doesn't get more heavy metal than that! The whole vehicle functions to stimulate the chase, like the beats of a war drum. And speaking of the chase, that’s all this movie is, it’s a two hour long chase. Honestly, I didn't feel the two hours. They felt short to me, I was having such a blast in this crazy post apocalyptic world that the two hours wheezed by. You know how sometimes while watching the old Mad Max movies you’d fast forward to the chase sequences? Well, now you don’t have to because this whole movie is about cars going at high speeds, exploding and crashing in colorful ways.

So did Tom Hardy do good as Max? I’d say yes, the only thing is that Max  feels different. Obviously it shows just how much of Mel Gibson was put into Max the character. Hardy's take on it is different. A man of even fewer words. He speaks as little as possible and when he does its in grunts. Max is more of a mystery on this film than on previous ones. He seems madder, crazier, more enigmatic. I can’t say I blame him. He has been living in this crazy, shitty world longer now. Though it is a pleasure seeing Max Rockatansky back on the screen again, if there’s one thing I can say that I didn't love about the film is that Max is not the primary focus of the film. I wanted more Max, instead the film is more about Imperator Furiosa, which isn't a bad thing either because she’s a fascinating character. But if we really get down to it, the only one of the Mad Max films which was truly about Max is the first film, which is all about him and his family and friends, and his revenge. The rest of the films in the series are about him protecting or helping someone, serving the role of savior. In that sense I'd say Fury Road is similar to Mad Max: Beyond Thundedome (1985). Still, that’s just a minor hiccup. The film is amazing. It deserves to be seen more than once, something I will be doing before it leaves the silver screen, where it should be seen and appreciated in all its cinematic, post apocalyptic glory.

Rating: 5 out of 5 


Elwood Jones said...

This was a rare 5 star movie for myself, even taking out the fact that I was a huge fan going in, I'm just grateful that Miller was able to deliver on his thirty year promise of a worthy sequel. Something he more than delivers here

Tony Brubaker said...

I really applaud what Miller did here, he looked at what was the best bit from the first three movies (namely of course the astonishing 20-minute chase at the end of "The Road Warrior") and then proceeded to make that the entire movie with "Fury Road", there-by giving the audience precisely and exactly what they wanted, superb. I only hope they`ve decided to do the same with the 7th Star Wars movie, if that turns out to be one long uninterupted 2-hour space battle (as it should be of course) then perfection will have finally been achieved there as well ! ! !.

odenat said...

I watched this movie yesterday night. The salon was almost empty. My gf was with me and she pretty slept all the movie.

I mean i hope this movie can get its money back. I liked it and i feel it's one of the movies you need to watch again and again to catch what you missed at the last time.

Franco Macabro said...

Elwood Jones: Yeah, there's no other way I could go but five stars with this one, I mean, visually, it's such a feast. The colors, the compositions, the shots, it's no wonder when Robert Rodriguez saw it he stood up and asked out loud "How did you film that?"

@Tony: Agree, he made Fury Road into what everybody loves about the Mad Max movies: the car chases! The action! It's pure fun every step of the way.

@Odenat: Yeah, samething happened to me Odenat, I got there early cause I thought it would be packed and all, but it wasn't....sadly I think Miller might have waited too long to make this sequel and now people have just forgotten Mad Max, newer generations don't know what the hell Mad Max is...but those hardcore fans are getting a treat. Here's hoping new generations give it a chance and discover its awesomeness. Sadly, i hear Pitch Perfect 2 is winning at the box office which shows what the masses's a sad state of affairs. Fury Road is such a rare gem. A gonzo film from a gone gonzo era...the 80's. Hope good word of mouth and the amazing reviews its been getting help it at the box office.

SFF said...

Enjoyed your look at this film Franco. I held off reading until I saw it. I also held off reading until I finished writing my own entry.

Loved your impressions of the painterly violence and yes those practical effects are indeed Gonzo.

Your final paragraph is also a reaction I shared. I felt very strongly that Gibson was indeed my preferred Max, but of course that is based on three films.

And yes, I too noted the distinct lack of Max at times and wanted more. But ultimately felt very much the same way. This is a film worth your time at the theatre. Well said my man.

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, I think if Miller is going to do another one (as he has stated already) I hope he focuses a heck of a lot more on Max's journey, not helping anyone out, it should be a story dealing with his own story arc, something truly personal. But then again, I guess someone could argue that that story has already been told in the first film.

But whatever Miller decides to do, I will devour it with a passion. I like the fact that he made this film so different to the others. He made it colorful on purpose, which I think is awesome. By now the grey looking post apocalyptic color palette is worn out, that's probably why he went with something so different.


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