Mad Max: Fury Road

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Road warriors seem to get road rage quite often.

Nothing is more frustrating than hearing about another film series that’s getting a reboot. Yet this one was a bit intriguing. It was Australian writer/director George Miller who did the Mad Max/Road Warrior films 30 years ago (before going on to some charming family films like Happy Feet and Babe).

The trailers looked like the type of adrenaline rush you get after drinking a Red Bull, while bungee jumping on speed. It’s safe to say…if you liked the first movies and thought the commercials looked cool, you’ll really enjoy this. And you won’t say that phrase everyone hates to utter: “The best parts were in the commercial.”

My excuse for loving the originals was that I was 12-years-old watching them on HBO. What boy that age doesn’t like seeing crazy costumes, wacky cars, and things exploding? I’m not sure what my excuse is now, since this film was basically void of any plot. I guess it’s the fact that it brought me back to a time when I could shut off my brain and just enjoy the ride. Most of the time during this, I did.

Since a teenager just asked me if he needed to see the original to know the characters or story, I will briefly explain the premise. It’s a dystopic, post-apocalyptic world. A desert town is run by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, from the original). He has a lot of breathing problems, and something weird going on with his skin. He doles out small rations of water to the starving folks down below, and he sends Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to take the big rig out to get gasoline for their variety of vehicles (the Cadillac might be the coolest Caddy in movie history).

You thought Theron looked freaky when she didn’t wear make-up in Monster…in this she’s sporting a Sigourney Weaver (Alien 3) buzzcut and is missing an arm.

Max is played by Tom Hardy. He was annoying as Bane in the last Batman, because of the thing covering his face. Luckily, the thing covering his face in this only lasts the first third of the movie. He’s also easier to understand than the Bane character. That being said, he isn’t given a lot to say. Nobody really is, because the movie doesn’t have much plot or character development. But come on, that’s not what you came to see. You want to see motorcycles jumping over cars, explosions, gun fire, and people flying through windshields. You get that in spades.

Anyway, Furiosa decides on this run she’ll help the “breeders” (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Courtney Eaton, Abbey Lee, Riley Keough, and Zoe Kravitz, the result of Lenny’s breeding) escape the clutches of their “husband”. That doesn’t sit well with Immortan Joe. He rallies the troops and it becomes a car chase in the desert.

Max is captured in the beginning, and they use his blood to help some of the sickly “war boys.” Sure, you might giggle thinking of the Duran Duran song, but they are kind of scary and fun to watch. It’s strange to think that one of them is played by Nicholas Hoult (X-Men), the boy from About a Boy.

Early on, you think this is going to be another movie where woman aren’t given a lot to do but be sex objects. The first women we see are Rubenesque, nude, and hooked up to machines that are milking them. When we first see the breeders, they’re showering and drinking water from a hose like it’s a Carl’s Jr. commercial.

Yet the various women we meet are all strong characters (literally and figuratively).

The villains are all fun to look at. It’s like the cast of The Warriors went all steampunk. The head villains look like Jabba the Hut/Darth Vader rejects. The weapons they use are all dazzling to look at. Even the guitarist is playing something that would make Gene Simmons and Angus Young jealous – a guitar that’s also a flamethrower. Why is there a guitarist in this movie? Who knows. We’ve seen soldiers going to battle with heavy metal playing. We heard Wagner blasting out of helicopters in Apocalypse Now, and didn’t the Civil War soldiers go into battle with drummers following them? I’m guessing it’s that same logic, and it does add craziness to the whole affair. At times, it was like watching a Wendy O. Williams video (Google it).

Junkie XL (Divergent, 300, Spider-Man 2) composed the interesting, hard-driving score.

The first Mad Max movie cost a few hundred thousand to make, and made over $100 million.

The budget on this was more than that — $150 million. The budget on the first movie 35 years ago was probably the cost this film used for designing just one of the many interesting vehicles used (I love it for the tank Cadillac, tank Cadillac…)

It was a pleasant surprise to see that the big budget wasn’t wasted on CGI, but actual stunts. Even more amazing that nobody was hurt or killed during the filming.

Cinematographer John Seale deserves a lot of credit for capturing the manic energy.

The movie was basically one long car chase and it ends up being a guilty pleasure. It doesn’t take itself so seriously.

There’s a version in 3-D, which I can imagine is a blast.

The movie loses half a point for inviting Mel Gibson to the screening in L.A.

This is the kind of fun I had wished the Fast and the Furious movies would’ve been.

3 stars out of 5.

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