MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)

mad-max_poster

Imagine this. This bubbly optimist who enjoys all sorts of cinema- from the silents right up to the latest blockbuster- goes to see the latest entry of Mad Max. I’ll fully admit that a bleak dystopian view of the future is generally not my cup of tea. But I kept my mind open this Memorial Day weekend upon screening George Miller’s MAD MAX FURY ROAD (2015), because I’ve heard so many glowing reviews.

I should’ve listened to my pal Karen Noske who advised fellow optimists to skip the Mad Max reboot and go straight to Disney’s TOMORROWLAND (despite its less than glowing reviews). After leaving MAD MAX FURY ROAD, I felt like a victim of PTSD. Yet in the most campy-gone-wrong way, if that’s possible. To keep in line with my post-traumatic state, I shall share with you all the reasons I disliked this film, plus a few positive reasons the film earned my respect (I am an optimist after all)- in bullet points.

I’ll lead with the few merits… (note there may be a few hints at spoilers)

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  • Charlize Theron. (She was the true lead of this film. Her performance was the one thing that seemed authentic and worthy in this futuristic flick. She was the actual “Max” here.)

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  • Positive view of women. This film cast a lot of women in speaking roles and portrayed them in realistic, tough and overall positive perspective. Happy to hear women have a future, Mr. Miller, even beyond mother’s milk.

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  • More over, it’s a positive view of older women. What a refreshing thing to see mature women- shown in all their deeply wrinkled (no plastic or botox here) beauty. And these ladies are TOUGH. Kicking ass- clever fighting, use of weapons, throwing punches and getting punched back just as hard. Basically, mature women being treated as equals in an action flick as I’ve never seen before.

Now for what didn’t work for me…

MadMax_Muzzlefor Tom

  • Tom Hardy articulates like a modern Popeye. He barely speaks throughout the film and when he does, it’s a mix of a 6-packs-a-day growl or he throaty whispers under his breath. I understand the sex appeal factor (especially when mixed with an Australian or Brit accent), yet surely at some point soon this trend that really kicked off heaviest with Christopher Nolan’s Christian Bale Batman trilogy must hit maximum velocity, right? I’m worried screenwriters will be out of jobs at this rate if the lead actors no longer need any lines, simply gargle some gravel after turning into a human chimney then mutter incoherently.
Jasin Boland      +6142150189

the happy couple, fast friends

  • The quickest case of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve ever seen. At one point a red-headed female ‘breeder’ discovers the same man that just moments prior had tried to violently kidnap her, along with the other women in her party hidden in their escape rig. What does she do? Immediately falls head over heels, of course. Her attempted captor recently discovered his boss’s promises of a glorious afterlife was a bunch of rubbish. So loyalties flip and they’re all pals now that his cult abandoned him.
  • The over-the-top tone isn’t just campy, it’s RIDICULOUS. The parts that try too hard to be shocking seem more laughable than effective. The humor is lost because it tries too hard, as well- the few times its attempted. You could say there’s innovative visual effects and unique design but that often gets overshadowed by the ridiculous factor again.

MadMax_guitar

For example, it feels like you step into an 80s MTV video every time they cut to a red-jumpsuited guy tethered to a Fury Road vehicle whose only purpose is to rock out on an electric guitar, as the barbaric battle ensues in constant motion. To set the musical mood, or perhaps to compete with the tune of deathly road rage, there are also about four men banging on enormous drums atop another vehicle.

So the future doesn’t look very bright in this battle for basic resources via any violent means possible. But hey, if you’re a woman and you’re not being used as a breeder or for mother’s milk, you might have an equal fighting chance to be just as violent and messed up as anyone else. Otherwise, you can always rock out like you’re in a 1979 or a 1985 Beyond Thunderdome version of a MTV video. That is, if you can’t stop rolling your eyes as I did at how utterly ridiculous this reboot really is.

a surprisingly feminist film

a surprisingly feminist film

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Comments

  1. The two women in our family LOVED this. Easily, a favorite of the year.

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  2. 🙂 This is wild…all the things you say are true, but it’s all the things I did like about the film. Yes, too quick to go from enemy-out-to-kill-you to bosom buddies. But I did like the idea of this young warrior boy’s redemption at the end. ( Uh-oh, I can see you rolling your eyes now…L0L! )

    My one pet peeve…well, two actually, are: (1) The girls who were rescued looked like Super-Models and (2) No one in the future has names like Bob or Mary or John.

    I did enjoy the film. Its kinetic energy was an assault to my senses. Now I know that sounds like a bad thing ( assault…never good ) but I’m meaning how energizing it and edge-of-my-seat it kept me. In the totality of the movie, Miller created a whole new world. Yeah a dystopian one, but one well imagined.

    As for Tom Hardy…whatever he wants. I enjoyed your review. I’m just sorry you didn’t have a good time at the movies.

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    • Theresa- I love your pet peeves! Assault to the senses, indeed. Here’s the thing- I grew up with a bleak childhood in many ways so I purposefully became a die-hard optimist as a survival skill. It got me through my childhood until my bleak future became a sunny one. As such, I cannot stand dystopian films. They go against every core value hardwired into my DNA.

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      • Kellee, I hear what you are saying and am moved, touched. There’s a lot behind your 1000-watt smile. I’m glad you’re on the other side of childhood, and those memories and are walking in sunlight. See…we just never know about someone. I hear ya. 🙂

        Theresa

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      • Growing up with a similar background, I think that’s a great attitude to have! I tend to like stuff all over the spectrum. But in real life, I’m a bit of a Little Mary Sunshine. Usually!

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      • Hooray for Little Mary Sunshines! (I guess that’s certainly not the worst way to deal with this crazy, mixed-up world’s problems, right??) LOL

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  3. Wow! First negative review I’ve read. Sorry this one wasn’t your cup of tea. 🙂 Post-apocalyptic movies are a favorite thing of mine so this was my cup of tea. Loved it! And Furiosa is my favorite character in a long time. 🙂

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    • If dystopia, especially in a campy road rage tone, is your thing, then this is for you. I realize I’m in the minority here. Charlize Theron’s character did remind me of the same kick-ass impact as when Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley came onto the screen in the Alien series. So I love Furiosa, too- but the rest of the flick is not for me.

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  4. Hey Kellee, I have avoided this one so far, mainly because I think it’s hard to top THE ROAD WARRIOR (did you see it?). I may give this a shot yet, but all of the Mad Max films seem to be made for guys (boys). I’ve never seen a woman’s take on them before. Thank you!

    Bill
    .

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    • I know it should have been an obvious sign that if I didn’t like the original Mad Max flicks, I probably wouldn’t like the reboot. What I didn’t like about the 1979 and 1985 versions of Mad Max, is the same basic themes here- a bleak, violent dystopia. YUCK. But what I did enjoy immensely in this new version- women kicking ass. I’m willing to bet you’ll like this film, Bill.

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  5. Saw you at the movie, too! Being an optimist too…I was a bit hesitant about going. I heard it is the best action film ever made….soooo…I skipped my usual comedy type of film and went. I was surprised..because I actually liked it! I liked the women in the film too…but I thought the villains were a lot more interesting and I especially liked the odd misfit cast. As far as that red suited guitar playing dude…I loved him! In actual battles in many wars, music was often played to get the soldiers ramped up and ready to fight…I thought this was perfect ….weird odd strange bizarre and the correct choice of musician to call out that the bad guys were coming. I agree with the quick love affair, too. Thought it was a bit forced and simply did not fit. I liked max and his garbling…I am told that Mel Gibson did not say much either in the other films..(this is my first mad max flick)
    Anyways, when I let myself seep into the this dark sleazy world, it captured me and I tried hard to imagine what the world just might be like if it all went mad. Makes sitting in traffic on K10 seem not so bad at all. 🙂

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    • It’s funny what makes up what tastes we enjoy, don’t enjoy and why. I had too much darkness in my real life to seek out a bleak future as entertainment. In the Great Depression, I would’ve been the one seeking out Busby Berkley musicals- hence why I enjoy them so much! But I’m glad you enjoyed Fury Road. I do hope this will influence more ‘women kicking ass’ roles for other films, too.

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  6. Great review! Check out my review of Fury Road and let me know what you think! https://theaspiringfilmcritic.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/mad-max-fury-road-2015-%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85/

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  7. Collin Freeman says:

    Saw it this past Sunday. How do you describe a film that is very short on plot, but good on story? I will say that it’s themes of survival and redemption were definitely apparent. I think Charlize Theron steals the show. Great actress. So little dialog but her facial expressions (and Hardy’s) convey so much. Very visually stunning – like Disney World after the apocalypse. I enjoyed it, but I think most movie-goers are giving it more praise than its due.

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