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Mad Max: Fury Road Review

16 Jun

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“Oh, what a day. What a lovely day!”

Mad Max: Fury Road drives us through a post-Happy Feet, post-apocalyptic wasteland, one populated with the absurd sights and sounds from the mind of director George Miller, yet still grounded in dynamics relevant in today’s world. It’s a movie that features exquisitely crafted action sequences that don’t just serve a purpose of action for action’s sake; rather, those sequences are avenues for world-building, character-building, and story-building, and this is a movie that immerses its audience without the use of any mind-numbing exposition. There’s a difference between an engaging culture/world and an over-reliance on plot, and the film has the former down pat and avoids the latter.

Miller trusts the audience to understand the state of this world and of these characters, and while we may not get every bit of information that we might want, that’s in no way a bad thing; rather than build a story after a long sequence of explaining, the movie builds its story as it asks us to absorb, as it fleshes out the characters and their environment mainly through striking visual imagery. The cast understands the power of visuals over words, and Hardy and Theron convey so much through silence and non-verbal communication throughout; we see guilt and sadness, fear of the past and a survival drive like no other. It’s an impressive display by a great cast, and actors like Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley–going from Transformers to this is a great way to dig your acting career out of the toilet before it can be flushed–and more round out a thoroughly unique and compelling group of characters.

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And although the story is a simple one, it’s still layered with ideas that are adeptly handled by the creative team. It’s a story about parenthood. It’s both a story about objectification and the value of human beings, about religious fundamentalism and finding some hope in a seemingly hopeless world. One of the most intriguing visuals consists of the War Boys spraying chrome on their mouths, and it’s a nice example of Miller introducing an image that may seem difficult to decipher at first, yet can be read as a representation of the religious link to cars in this movie; the War Boys are emulating their religiously significant automobiles here, and it’s just one image that speaks volumes about the world. After all, it also speaks to the way Immortan Joe is able to control the War Boys: religious indoctrination, specifically. And from there, we can expand our view to Joe’s wives and to the crowd that is controlled by the release of water; these are all people who have had their agencies stripped by a powerful few, and the foundation of the movie is thus built on the small group that rejects Joe and his methods. Both genders, refreshingly, are treated as equals; these are human beings in a bad situation, and that’s that.

There are so many images throughout that we can analyze in that manner, and it’s wonderful to see an action movie use its visuals to convey a story rather than convey the fact that a building is being blown up or a city is having the shit kicked out of it by aliens. And as action set pieces themselves, Fury Road contains some of the most exhilarating sequences I’ve ever seen in film. Whether it’s the Doof Warrior playing that awesome guitar, the Bullet Farmer shooting wildly into the air, Max and Furiosa fighting together, or the audience getting a bird’s eye view of the action, what’s clear is that Miller understands what makes an action movie work. It’s not just the action; it’s everything that is created by the action.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

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-It would be interesting to see a black and white version–as Miller wanted–but I feel like the vibrant colors are essential to this movie. Especially given the contrast between day and night.

-I love how all the trailers–my favorite of the year thus far–only give away scenes from the first battle, which is the worst battle sequence of the movie. And yet, that action sequence is one of the best I’ve seen.

-The War Boys seem, on the surface, like those weird-looking bad guys who are there in endless supply in every single action movie (whose purpose=cool death). However, I’m impressed with the way the movie humanizes these characters; it’s important to remember that yes, these are humans, and it’s one of the key points the movie makes throughout. And it isn’t JUST Nux who is humanized, which is nice to see.

-Like a video game, isn’t it? Trying to defeat all the “bosses”.

-The music is essential in this movie, and I’ve listened to that soundtrack so many times. This piece gets me pumped up:

SPOILER SECTION:

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– “I thought you weren’t insane anymore.” The movie has quite a few lines like that that are pretty hilarious.

-Furiosa is a badass, but it’s so refreshing not to see a badass female character who’s seemingly untouchable. It’s also great to see women like the Vuvalini and the wives dying not so that the men have motivation to do something, but rather just because they’re fighting and, well, people die. Some people are stronger than others because that’s how life works, and there’s equal treatment of this idea throughout. What’s important is that these characters help each other; they all have different skills, and they recognize strengths and weaknesses.

-To illustrate the aforementioned non-verbal communication: I love the scene in which Max is about to snipe the Bullet Farmer’s car, but eventually just lets Furiosa do it. She trusts him to do it, but he trusts her to do it more. What a great dynamic this is.

-After a scene like Angharad going under the wheels, another movie would definitely have her somehow living and manufacture a conflict between Max and Furiosa about him lying about seeing her die.

– “I AM THE SCALES OF JUSTICE!” The Bullet Farmer scene. Holy shit, what an awesome image, especially against the night sky. And that music.

-I really love the Nux character arc (and the small detail that he doesn’t know what a tree is). At the end, he sacrifices himself not because he’s buying into Immortan Joe’s BS, but because he’s found people he cares about, people he would sacrifice his life for.

-Rictus is cool.

– “Remember me?”

Photo credit: Mad Max: Fury Road, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures

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12 Responses to “Mad Max: Fury Road Review”

  1. theipc June 16, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    Great movie!! Great post!! I loved it too – “tie it to that thing” “you mean ‘the tree’???” “um, yeah”.

    : )

    • polarbears16 June 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

      Yeah, that was one of my favorite moments. Thanks!

  2. Hepburn3 June 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    I was wondering when you would post a review?! 😉 I am so glad that you have!
    I really enjoyed this film but I did find it interesting that there were very few people of colour in it. Except for the two wives Toast the Knowing ( Zoe Kravitz) and Cheedo the Fragile (Courtney Eaton). I have to say the heavy metal guitar guy on the truck made me laugh ( because I found it silly and a rather very white guy thing). And I enjoyed the line that was said by one of the wives before you kicked that Warboy off the truck that it was men who killed the world.
    So my disappointment with the film lies in that.
    I loved CharlizeT.and Tom H they were wonderful as was the whole cast.
    Miller made a visual intriguing movie and it stands well as another chapter in the MadMax story. He showed creative and interesting female characters who were not the trope Hollywood stereotype of the “strong female character”.
    This is one film that I will mos def own when it is released. 🙂

    • polarbears16 June 16, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      Yeah, I was wondering about that too.

      And yes, the characters were all able to stand out from each other, which was really nice to see. No falling into tropes, even for the most minor of characters.

      Btw I posted the parade pics! 🙂

  3. Mark V. June 16, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    Took your own sweet time getting around to Fury Road, eh? Were you worn out by the dumb Furious 7 and Age of Ultron? Haha.

    In a bad way, any action movie that comes out from this point on, will be put beside and compared to Fury Road; nothing is going to top it any time soon, in directing, all the way to editing.

    Also, I love “Brothers in Arms”! “Chapter Doof” is great as well.

    • polarbears16 June 17, 2015 at 9:08 am #

      Haha, I actually saw this a few weeks ago, but recently for movie reviews, I’ve just let it sit for a few weeks until I get the motivation to write it (unlike TV, where I’ll do it on the night of). And this was a refreshing movie after Ultron and Furious 7.

  4. Jay June 17, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Loved this!

  5. Chris Lindsay June 17, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    I agree: Religious indoctrination is an important theme in this film, and there are definite parallels to radical Islam. I like your statement: “Hardy and Theron convey so much through silence and non-verbal communication.” I wrote a short post on Fury Road called “When Barbarians Rule.” If you would like to read it, here is the link: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/mad-max-fury-road/

  6. #peggyatthemovies June 17, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    “is a great way to dig your acting career out of the toilet before it can be flushed” = possibly the best line of a review I’ve read in a LOONNGG time!! hahahaha.. you know how much I loved this movie.. yay!!

  7. killkenny16 June 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    I actually have friends who have seen Mad Max and dismissed it as “another dumb action movie”.

    I am no longer friends with these people. Doof Warrior for president.

  8. Mel June 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    Great review!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Top 20 Films of 2015 | Polar Bears Watch TV - February 9, 2016

    […] Mad Max: Fury Road: What an awesome movie. Need I say […]

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