Sunday, May 17, 2015

Movie Review #259: "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015)

Movie"Mad Max: Fury Road"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: George Miller
Rating: R
Running Time 2 hours
Image Source
Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) survives in the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Australia. He is captured by the followers of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrn), called Imperators, and turned into a blood bag for an Imperator named Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Immortan Joe is sending Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in a big rig called the War Wagon on a mission to Gas Town to retrieve fuel. Furiosa has different plans as she goes off mission and betrays Joe by smuggling his "wives," whom he uses as sex slaves to breed his offspring, out of town and hopefully to the safety of the Green Place where she was born. Joe sends an army after her and Nux drags his blood bag Max along for the ride. Max winds up breaking free and eventually helps Furiosa all in an effort to simply survive. 

Believe the hype.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" is a high octane, balls-to-the-wall action film in the most literal sense of the word. It is intense, exciting and completely unapologetic in what it is willing to show on screen. This movie is a reboot/sequel hybrid and boasts a real return to form for both George Miller, the film's director, and the "Mad Max" franchise as a whole after the slight slip up that was "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" from 30 years ago. In Mel Gibson's place, Tom Hardy now takes on the titular role of Mad Max Rockatansky and plays the part very well, though perhaps slightly underutilized. Hardy has this very frantic way about him in how he moves and speaks that shows he's not all there mentally, acting in such a way that shows he is a bit gone and a little insane, too. Haunted by the demons of his past, Max constantly sees images of those he was unable to save before the world was destroyed. He has only lasted this long on the planet because of his instinct to survive, yet it is this instinct that may be his demise if he doesn't change his thinking. Joining Max is Imperator Furiosa, played brilliantly and amazingly by Charlize Theron. Furiosa is an awesomely strong female lead on the road to redemption with a will to live. I would go as far as calling this the first true feminist action movie. It slaps all other sexist action flicks in the face with fully-developed female characters with Theron as, essentially, the main character in a movie called "Mad Max." Part of me wonders if the "Fury Road" part of the movie title was a subtle nod to her character's name, but I might be reading too much into it. George Miller even consulted a feminist writer to make his female characters stronger, more badass, and more heroic in a genre typically dominated by machismo and ball-grabbing. Really, the meat of this story actually revolves around Furiosa and her attempt to free a group of women held as sex slaves, rather than Max who just offers an assist to her journey. There is a mutual respect between Max and Furiosa, but never a romantic interest between the two. Hugh Keays-Byrn, who played Toecutter in the original "Mad Max" films now takes the part of Immortan Joe, the tyrannical, psychotic leader of the War Boys. Joe controls a water pump that gets water from underground wells and he uses his control of this water source to rule over the people of his Citadel. When Furiosa goes off mission and Joe discovers she has smuggled his wives away, he rounds up his entire army of War Boys to chase her down and retrieve what he believes is his property. The Imperators look at Joe as a religious figure and leader of their wastelandish home and hope he will lead them through the gates of Valhalla as they huff chrome spray paint and sacrifice their lives in battle.

Director George Miller still shows he has a wonderful eye and displays a tremendous sense of style. His sets, location, characters, and makeup are nothing short of brilliant. Visually, this movie is a sight to behold. The fact that Miller opted to use 80% practical effects and sets and only 20% CGI just goes to show what a true director can do with the right set of tools and in the right hands. CGI was definitely used in the right way here and nothing felt fake or artificial in the slightest. This film is hardcore, heavy metal eye candy, supercharged and firing on all eight cylinders from start to finish. It is one hell of a ride that will make you lean back and say, "holy shit!" in your head, if not out loud. "Fury Road" puts you on the edge of your seat and keeps you there the entire time, only allowing a few brief moments to relax before it ramps up the action and the intensity again as cars, bullets, spears, arrows, fire, human bodies and blood fly all against an incredibly epic score. Though it is, for all intents and purposes, an A-list movie, it certainly teeters the fine line between A and B-movie with a campy, outrageous feel and a bizarre, beautiful chaos. Between this constant action and the undertones of a strong, female-driven story and empowerment, "Mad Max: Fury Road" will absolutely be on our top 20 favorite films of 2015, and if we're honest with ourselves, it will probably even make the top 10. This film passes the Bechdel test with flying colors and it made our feminist selves scream with joy. Exhilarating, violent, insane, wild and not afraid to show it, you will be missing out if you don't see this movie on the big screen.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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