Monday, May 18, 2015

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) - George Miller

Though the series finale of Mad Men last night might have left me a little hollow inside, the newest iteration of the Mad Max franchise this weekend certainly did not. I'm sure I'll be thinking about Don Draper's seven season up-down-up life trajectory a lot longer than Max Rockatansky's two hour straight shot into the desert wasteland and back. But ,for what it was (great popcorn entertainment), Fury Road more than delivered the anticipated goods.

Basically, this movie is an extended two-hour chase scene. It's as if Miller took everything he wanted to do in the last half hour of The Road Warrior but couldn't, either for budgetary reasons or the lack of computer-assisted imagery at the time, and crammed it all into one film. Mad Max: Fury Road is bursting at the seams with fresh visuals, outrageous vehicles, subtle shout-outs to the Max's of days past while starting over completely new, wiping the slate clean. Everything in this film happens at such a frenetic clip, it might require a second viewing. For now, here's what stuck with me amid all the gloriously orchestrated chaos...

1. Max is "madder" than ever before. Sure, those random flashbacks and hallucinations are little more than excuses for injecting backstory, plot strands that this movie doesn't have time to investigate. But it gives me hope that in the inevitable sequel Max might finally go completely ape-shit, live up to his moniker.

2. Max is the sidekick rather than centerpiece. If you've seen the film or read any of the reviews, you probably know by now that this is more Furiosa's movie (Charlize Theron) than Tom Hardy's. Max's name might be in the title, but really he's just a "blood bag" to keep the story pumping. An interesting, bold move on Miller's part -- ceding his prized, rebooted franchise to a new character right off the bat. It has the added bonus of pissing off a bunch of doofus men's groups!!

3. More mutations than ever before! Giant cancerous leg carbuncles and tumors with smiley faces and first names!! One of the things that always bothered me in the earlier Max's and '80s post-apocalyptic's post-nuclear. Shouldn't the majority of the remaining populace have some form of cancer from all the radioactive isotopes in the air and water? A mild case of radiation sickness at least? The new Mad Max delivers on this more than any of the others.

4. Favorite vehicle: The one that looked like the General Lee plopped atop a military tank. Or maybe the porcupine car borrowed from The Cars That Ate Paris.

5. Many of the stunts were practical, a few of the moody skylines looked actual. Yes, there was more CGI than I had originally hoped. But beggars can't be choosers these days.

6. Immortan Joe is played by the original Toecutter! Will this somehow pay off further down the line in subsequent films? Toecutter seems unequivocally dead at the end of the'79 Mad Max after getting hit head-on by an 18-wheeler. But, hey, this is the post-apocalypse. The fallout could have revitalized his vital organs. Who knows.

7. The flaming guitar guy...of course, the flaming guitar guy! Who does not love the flaming guitar guy? He, quite literally, rocks the whole show.

8. Last but not least, Immortan Joe's smaller son, Corpus Colossus. Looking at this guy, you can't help but get echoes of Thunderdome's diminutive Master. Though it seems Furiosa is primed to become president of the Citadel at movie's end, I'm hoping this guy sticks around, becomes Treasurer or V.P.

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