Much like the rest of the world, I ventured out of my house last night to catch the Thursday night screening of Mad Max: Fury Road. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I knew that the budget was massive in comparison to the previous films, and that it was “Certified “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, with 90 reviews total, 89 of which being positive, but hype is a bitch sometimes, so I tried really hard to keep my expectations in check. What I got was pretty much what I wanted, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. So slight, in fact, that I can’t quite place my finger on what exactly was nagging me about the whole experience. It’s certainly nothing that took me out of the movie, because I had a hell of a time at the theater with this one, so maybe I’m just getting old and cynical, and feel the need to “stick it to the man” or what have you. I don’t think that’s what it is, but I am open to the suggestion.
Fury Road is set between the events of The Road Warrior, and Beyond Thunderdome. This is the reason that Mel Gibson has not returned, but rather Tom Hardy as the weathered warrior. It is established fairly quickly, that Max is not the main character in Fury Road. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is actually more the focus of the film. It may or may not turn some of you off, to hear that Mad Max has sort of been reduced to a secondary role. How you feel about that I cannot control. What I will tell you is that it’s a real thing. Tom Hardy does a great job with the role, but I want you to know before going in, that this is not Mad Max, or The Road Warrior. This is a very different kind of beast. The spectacle George Miller is known for is there, albeit on a much larger scale. This is a $200 million dollar movie, and it looks the part. Rarely do I see one of these mega-budget Summer blockbusters, where it looks like every dollar is up on the screen, but Fury Road manages to feel that way.
The real star of this show is the design. From the sets, to the vehicles, to the characters within the wasteland, one thing is certain, Miller gave us a vision that is not something you usually get from a WB summer movie. While the film barely resembles the grimy Ozploitation look and feel of the films prior, Miller’s attention to detail gives us a glimpse at a harsh and brutal world, filled with dirty, disfigured people, and all of the punkish post-apocalyptic S&M imagery we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Most of you are probably familiar now, with the complaint from some of the whinier frequenters of the internet, that Fury Road is a “feminist” film. Yes, there is a strong female lead, and yes, the story revolves around freeing women from sexual slavery, but I wouldn’t call this a feminist film. At the end of the day, it’s a 3 ton war machine, filled with scantily clad women as they tear, bust and smash their way through the convoy from hell. Yes, Charlize Theron is responsible for at least eighty percent of the action sequences, but there is a reason for that. Tom Hardy kicks some ass as Max when he has the opportunity to do so. In context, it makes perfect sense. Regardless, I would have liked more Max in-action than I was given. Hopefully sequels will take care of that for me.
So, I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a long time. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes and no. There’s a trade-off I think. If you grew up watching and loving the original Mad Max movies, you’re going to have to understand that this is a $200 million dollar version of that. It’s not a remake, but it could be looked at as a reboot of the franchise. It’s technically a sequel, while serving to spawn an all-new Max franchise. Most of the fears and complaints people had prior to seeing the film were not a reality. If you want my advice, stay off of social networking sites until you’re able to catch the film, because people are definitely overhyping it. It’s not the best movie ever made, and it’s not the best movie in the Mad Max series, but it’s still one hell of a ride.