Director George Miller Returns To The Franchise He Spawned Telling A New Tale of Post Apocalyptic Survival In Mad Max: Fury Road
ARTH VADER (AV): Mad Max: Fury Road (MM:FR) takes us somewhere a Mad Max Film has never taken its audience; a place gender equality. I start with that line, Pontificator, because of all the downright chauvinistic press this film got. Hopefully, They are so turned off, those sexist idiots have clicked off and now the rest of us can have a cogent chat about this movie.
Inserted as a pseudo sequel between Mad Max and Mad Max: Beyond Thunder-dome, Fury Road is the Mad Max film the world needs. IT threads together a story and timeline reminiscent of Terminator, Star Trek and Judge Dredd.
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): The continuity of this film has been brought into question from day one. George Miller refuses to call the film a sequel or reboot….but it clearly is just that, a reboot. Even though the film has flashbacks to the original, there is no series of events that can merge this film into the continuity of the others.
CASTING, ACTING AND DIRECTING
AV: A decent cast to be sure and what little true ‘acting’ there was, was good but I want to delve, face first into the direction. I mean props to the amazing onscreen presence to Charlize “Prometheus” Theron and Tom “Bane” Hardy but this films true hero was neither. It was the return of George Miller, Godfather of the Mad Max franchise. You know, it’s hard to envision that the guy responsible for Babe: Pig in the city, Happy Feet and Happy Feet 2 is the mastermind behind the Mad Max franchise. His vision of a harsh wasteland world has held our collective attention for a generation being powerful and provocative. And only a handful of story arcs have been capable of that.
TP: I enjoyed the first two of the original three films and think Miller did a great job directing this film. The pace was steady and engaging. The casting was also very good even though the film didn’t give Max (Tom Hardy) any real chance for depth and Furiosa (Charlize Theron) stole the show. Nicholas Hoult (Nux) was a welcome addition and it was great to see Hugh Keays-Byrne (Toecutter from the original film, Immortan Joe in this one) back again for another “Max” film.
ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
AV: While visual effects were quite prominent is MM:FR, we have a genuine effects mash-up here my friend. It is reported that most stunts in this movie are live action, with stunt men and actual pyrotechnics. Can’t tell you how long its been since we described a significant action film with those terms. Its real and it feels it. It works as a visual spectacular because the live-action effects elements are integrated as part of the story-telling, not as the primary storytelling device. In that way, to me, these are VERY special effects indeed, P-Man.
TP: I totally agree Vader, the special effects were outstanding in this film. More than the effects in the traditional sense, was the cinematography and real stunts pulled off onscreen. Miller has always been one for really showing what you are watching and some of the stuff here was just pure excellence! Of course IMAX 3D was the only way for me to see this film…and it was, once again, a great decision.
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK
AV: It took a bit of time for me to sort out what I saw with this movie. What I first saw was a rambling listless film with point, little direction and some downright tired storytelling elements a la the ‘ghost girl’ sequences throughout the film where we are never actually told who she is but is the implied ;most daughter from Mad Max. But this film has far greater merit than its flaws. Set aside the jaw-dropping stunts, better-than-usual art direction and an unusual hero’s journey that saw Max in chains for almost a quarter of the film and put him to be—at best—a supporting role. I thought the minimalist dialogue and girl-power-gone-right perspective was way more than refreshing, it was badass and actually gave greater depth to the hero. A smart twist and a smarter film than most probably saw coming.
TP: I must admit it took me a while to warm to to this film. Having seen the three previous Max films, I was unprepared for the levels this film took me. The opening shot alone had me quickly disassociating myself from the subject as I couldn’t identify with such an existence. Further, destroying the car so quickly just made me…mad (see what I did there?). Although I didn’t get back into my own skin until halfway through the film, the sheer scope of the cinematography and awesome imagining that went into the vehicles had me hooked. I think the film could have been better by exploring Max more, but the fact that it took off from the opening and didn’t stop until the end gave new meaning to having a film take you for a… ride (heh…did it again).
AV: The next 'new' Mad Max sequel is in production even as we speak. Mad Max: Wasteland will hit theaters in 2017. If we can expect more of this kind of filmmaking (I understand George Miller is Executive producing), I’m all in. The real trick will be to refine what this film did well and build on it.
TP: Word is that Hardy has signed for two more films... and hopefully they will elevate Max’s story without dropping the entertainment ball.
ARTH VADER rates Mad Max: Fury Road: A surprisingly entertaining film, George Miller put his passion into this next installment, and it shows. We don't need a timeline, flashbacks or silly flash-cuts of (presumed) long-dead loved ones (feel free to remove that nonsense in the Director's cut, George). While short on dialogue, this movie long on entertainment is smarter than it might seem at first watch. So I grab a warm cup of Mother's milk, jump on a 20 ft. pole to do some live-action stunts that should net eight (8) solid Busted Blocks for Mad Max: Fury Road.
THE PONTIFICATOR rates Mad Max: Fury Road: This film was stunning on so many levels, but I think the highest compliment I can give it was that it was something I didn’t expect and left me feeling that I had seen something unique. That is a feeling that is very hard to come by when you watch as many films as I do. This film angrily sped off with eight (8) high octane blocks… in search of paradise.