Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road Review

Mad Max: Fury Road Review
My earliest memories of anything pertaining to "Mad Max" was actually the third film.

I was really young, and it was some cable channel that escaped my mind. I remember that my mom was a massive Tina Turner fan, which pretty much turned me into Tina Turner fan (something I definitely was not expecting) and her song was a big part of the third film. Not only that, but Turner was a big part of the third film altogether. I have vague memories of "Beyond Thunderdome" and up until recently, I had vague memories of the "Mad Max" movies period. I have the first Mad Max movie here at home and I thinking about digging right in.

The thing is, I had a ball with "Mad Max: Fury Road," the new film hitting theaters this weekend. If you are wondering if you have to jump into everything Mad Max related in order to enjoy "Fury Road," and I say no. As the film begins we get a small but successful explanation to why the world collapsed and what Max has been up to. It doesn't spend anytime running through the history of Max, but it is just enough to spring us into this scary future. We get small glimpses of his past, but that is just to establish that Max is haunted by his past and that helps the new coming audience figure out why Max makes the decisions he does in this movie. Overall, I think you can go into this movie with no prior knowledge of any of the other Max films and be perfectly fine.

When we meet Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) in this new film, he just happens to be noticed by a group of scavengers in the Wasteland, a barren desert in the middle of a apocalyptic future. A great war ravaged the Earth, and that war was over oil. Max is taken to the Citadel, an enormous fortress where he held prisoner to Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Immortan Joe is a modern world prophet, or at least his people think he is. He controls all the water, oil and closest vegetation within countless miles. He also rules his followers with an iron hand. His "war boys" are all of his children, whom he has fathered from countless women. Immortan Joe plans to use Max for his blood, helping his sick children grow into the war boys he needs for his conquest.

Then there is Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. It becomes pretty clear that Imperator Furiosa is an enforcer for Immortan Joe. One day on a seemingly easy gasoline run by Furiosa, she breaks from her usual route and seems to be running from Immortan Joe. You see, she has stolen five of Immortan Joe's prized "wives" and she plans to bring them to safety. Eventually Furiosa and Max will clash, and Max will help the wives and Furiosa get to safety and away from Immortan Joe and his war boys. Immortan Joe is less than happy about this, and he gathers his allies, his war boys, and his war machines and he chases Furiosa and Max to get his wives back. Joe's wives are the basis of his power, and he needs to continually breed in order to create this massive army he has. The movie is this massively-scaled chess game between Furiosa and Max versus Immortan Joe.

If you thought "Avengers: Age of Ultron" was big on action, just wait until you see the scale and scope of the action scenes in "Fury Road." Nothing about this film is played by half-measures, everything feels epic, but at the same time feels dramatic enough that it doesn't need more time in the editing room. Not only that, but this is the most visually interesting world you will gaze at probably all summer. Immortan Joe is just fascinating to look at, with his long white hair, his see-through body armor, and his ultra-freaky breathing apparatus. He is brought to astounding life by Keays-Byrne, who ironically played the villain in the first Mad Max movie. His war boys will remind of the vampires from "I Am Legend," they are all bold and painted a pale white. As I watched "Mad Max: Fury Road," my jaw was continually dropped by just how eye-popping the sets and the action were.

Charlize Theron does very good work as Furiosa and the five wives she transports are played by Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton and Megan Gale. I love that the five wives are not just the typical damsels in distress, but very much part of the plot. They never want to go back to the uncontrollable slavery under Immortan Joe and they will do just about anything to keep themselves from going back to him. Any action movie which features strong female characters is something that appeals to me. I love that director George Miller didn't take the easy route when creating his female leads, his movie that much stronger because of it.

Another big character that was fun to watch was Nux, played by Nicholas Hoult. Hoult is just another war boy within Immortan Joe's army at the beginning of the movie, ready to die for Joe's causes. Something draws him to Max and eventually to one of the five wives and he slowly but surely becomes another ally to Max and Furiosa. Watching Nux's transformation throughout the film was surprisingly affective. Watching Hoult's glee of playing Nux was also quite affective. Nux is a crazy character and Hoult makes sure we believe in every quirk and every cackle his character unleashes.

Then there is Tom Hardy as Max. Through out most of the movie, Max is a lone cowboy, or a honorable Ronin. He is a man of few words throughout the movie, but he makes each of those words count. He can speak volumes and makes the audiences feel several emotions just through his gazing glare. Hardy has set a new standard for this character, and I believed every foot Max took on this journey. Now, is Tom Hardy better than Mel Gibson? I honestly, don't know after one viewing and I feel like I need to see  the other Mad Max movies again. But make no mistake, "Fury Road" is a movie I'll revisit several times in the future.

It has been about thirty years since George Miller visited the Wasteland. Now that he is back, it seems he's better than ever. He made an action film that felt urgent, something that stands on its own even though it is part of a larger franchise. It is a movie that doesn't follow the usual action cliché's, in fact, it literally shatters them. It is filled with classic moments and classic characters and if you allow yourself to be open-minded, this movie will take on a journey you'll be glad you took. I thought this movie looked good, but I was blown away by just how much it shook me up!

FINAL GRADE: A+


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