Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed by George Miller
Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris

To even attempt to act like I know how to start this review would be insincere. To even pretend like I had seen the original three Mad Max films would be entirely insincere. To state that Mad Max: Fury Road was one of my most anticipated summer movies would not be an understatement, and to say that it delivered on all promises and even exceeded my heightened expectations would be entirely accurate and not altogether surprising, given the exceedingly positive reviews and responses from critics and audiences alike. Released just on the heels of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max will not supplant the super heroes for blockbuster of the summer, but it will certainly thrill and please those who do choose to see it this year on the big screen.

Set in a post-apocalyptic waste land, Mad Max: Fury Road introduces us once again to the loner, Max (Tom Hardy), who ends up in the hands of evil warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). When on a routine run to acquire gasoline, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) stages a coup to escape with the War Rig and to free Immortan Joe’s wives from their oppressive husband. As Immortan Joe and his allies amass to chase them down, Furiosa and Max search for a safe place to escape to, biding their time and taking all means necessary to outwit and outlast Joe in the vast waste land.

What Max Max: Fury Road manages to deliver is nothing short of pure, unadulterated, B movie spectacle and bliss. And while it may seem misleading when I use the term “B movie”, since the film certainly had a good amount of financial backing, it is more the feel of a B movie that Mad Max embodies, and it is that which makes it such an enjoyable ride. Instead of focusing on characters, Miller focuses on entertainment, and he excels. While the characters feel underdeveloped, the big bang action brings the proceedings up to a whole new level, which assures that there is no absence of stakes. There are clear sides to cheer and jeer for. Aiding Miller’s vision of the story is the tremendous technical work by his collaborators, which begins and ends with the visuals from start to finish.

The cinematography immediately jumps out as impressive, bucking the temptation of a drab, gray color palette for post-apocalyptica. Instead, the film is vibrant in colors of red (and blue at night), making the explosions and screaming car chases visually pop. The costume design and art direction, too, brings the characters to life in a world that feels fully realized from the mind of George Miller. Miller allows us a view into his world of Mad Max with this film, taking advantages of budget and technology to provide a marvelous exhibition in world building filmmaking. As strange and unrealistic as this world may be, Miller is able to immerse us in the terrain and landscape, making the action that much more intense.

I cannot imagine how much this film might be lessened by missing it on the big screen. I am sure in this day and age of big, beautiful, HD TVs in every other home, that the home video experience will be awesome as well, but there has always been something about experiencing a movie in a theater with the huge screen and booming sound. Sure, there are some movies where the size and sound are not the main attraction of the film (re: period pieces), but this ain’t Sense and Sensibility. Miller accomplishes what the big screen was made for by taking a relatively simple story and infusing it with dynamite that explodes on screen in the biggest and most frequent of ways.

***1/2 – Great

 

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