Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Be careful to not go down Furry Road...far more different things happen down that road.

Mad Max: Fury Road – 5 out of 5

I’ve grown up having the character of Mad Max be a staple in my life. My father showed me the original as a child and I watched the sequels with delight and it wasn’t uncommon for me to yell "Who runs Bartertown?" when I was young. Every film, from the first one in 1979 to Thunderdome with Tina Turner have always had a safe place in my favorite lists and have been watched quite a bit during my years on this Earth. The character of Max Rockatansky is intense and played well by Mel Gibson (long before we knew he hated the Jewish people) and the world that Max belonged in was dynamic and interesting. So, needless to say when I first saw the trailer that was debuted at Comic-Con last year, I lost my shit and was pulling out my hair to see it.

In an apocalyptic wasteland where world governments, water, and gasoline are scarce, a gruff former lawman named "Mad" Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is captured by a gang calling themselves the War Boys and is lead in a cult-like fashion by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne—who also played Toecutter, the villain from the first film and killer of Mad Max’s family…does that count as spoilers considering the film is 36 years old?). While Max is being used as a "universal blood donor" in an effort to make one of the War Boys better (Nicholas Hoult), Immortan Joe sends Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in her war rig tractor trailer to collect gasoline. However, it seems that she has other things in mind and is actually helping Immortan Joe’s collection of wives flee his grip. Joe won’t stand for that and sends his army to stop them. Now, in an effort to get the wives to freedom, Furiosa must team with the War Boy Nux (Hoult) and Mad Max before Immortan Joe and his army spills their blood on the sands.

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Geez, it's like these women hate being forcefully married to a psychopath.

Mad Max: Fury Road is how action films are meant to be done. The movie is non-stop action and filled with colorful badass characters and locales that are stupidly over-the-top but over-the-top in just the right way. Tom Hardy fills Mel Gibson’s shoes terrifically well and it was almost frightening how close his voice sounded to Gibson. Finally, the story feels like no time has passed since Thunderdome came out and the universe that holds Mad Max feels authentic and absolutely belongs with the rest.

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The one thing they really miss in this world is chapstick.

One of the things that is making headlines with this film is how the Men’s Right Activists or menivists (as they call themselves) are boycotting the film and are up in arms because they call the film "feminists propaganda." Why would they call a film with a fire tornado and, what is basically, a two-hour long car chase a feminist propaganda film? Well (and I hope you’re sitting down for this), George Miller had the audacity to have a film that had strong female characters *GASP* and showed that a woman can be just as badass as a dirty, stubble-chinned man *DOUBLE GASP* and that, it’s entirely possible, for a man to take an order from a woman and even show that a woman can do things better than a man *TRIPLE AND QUADRUPLE GASP*. Yes, the turds who feel women need to be barefoot in the kitchen and serving their male asses are getting their nuts in a twist because the film is showing women in a light that Hollywood should have been showing them in for some years now.

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A visual representation of how menivists feel when watching Mad Max:  Fury Road.

In an effort to write badass females who do things that are more badass than Max, George Miller sought the help of renowned feminist and creator of The Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler. With her help, Miller got to showcase a whole host of female characters that weren't just around for eye candy or to be the damsels in distress that a manly man has to come and manly rescue her with his manliness. First off, you have Furiosa who, in my opinion, was way more badass than Max and I desperately want to see a spin-off all about her and her badassery. Additionally, you have the wives of Immortan Joe who, despite being the characters who are essentially being rescued, they never come off as helpless. When Max and Furiosa first come to blows, the wives are right there to help Furiosa and weren’t afraid to step up to him.  Finally, the group meets up with a group of marauders who are all older woman and all of them are all kinds of badass. No female in this film is shown to be weaker to a man and all of them deal out punishment as well as they take it and it was so god damn refreshing to see this in an action film. However, I simultaneously hate that this is a highlight for the film because it’s 2015 and strong female characters in an action film shouldn’t be news but rather a given thing in the world of entertainment. Regardless, Hollywood needs to take note because this movie just called you out.

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"Hey Hollywood...your move, bitches."

As far as performances go in this film, there isn’t a weak branch on the tree…and this film even has a pro-wrester on its roster. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are safe bets—going into the film, I pretty much KNEW they were going to be awesome and they were. And, like I said, Theron steals the show as Furiosa and I really, REALLY wanna see her in her own movie. Please make that happen, Mr. Miller. I know you’re not reading this and my desire means nothing to you because you don’t know me but Furiosa deserves her own film. Additionally, Nicolas Hoult is entertaining in the film and watching his character go from villain lackey to reluctant hero fit nicely in the story and it was really cool to see Hugh Keays-Byrne return to play a new character in the Mad Max universe.

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Interestingly enough, when I hear about Men's Rights Activists, this is how
I picture them.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about the Mad Max films was the sets and costumes and how they’ve evolved with each film. When the series first started in 1979 with Mad Max, we see a world that isn’t quite the desolate wasteland it is in Fury Road and we see cities still clinging to life. With each passing film, we see this world become a bigger and bigger wasteland where gas, ammo, water and other necessities start to disappear and is replaced by mayhem and monsters—well, not literal monsters but rather just horrible people…like menivists. Each film sees this landscape evolve (or devolve) into a more desolate place and each time we see vehicles, sets, and costumes reflect that diving streak. As this universe descending further towards oblivion, the overall look of the people and the vehicles they marauded in began to take on a junkyard feel. Everything looks cobbled together and everything is rusty and looks like it will give you tetanus if you even glanced at it. It would go on to become the defining trait of Mad Max’s post-apocalyptic world.

A part of this look is an over-the-top feel that makes everything look insane but, at the same time, like it belongs. It’s a difficult balance because control over this could easily be lost and you have something that could either look silly, over-produced or, on the opposite side, under-produced. The production of Fury Road was able to take that dynamic and splash it across the screen perfectly. Immortan Joe’s War Boys army is insane looking. Their vehicles are ridiculous, their belief system is royally fucked up, and their outfits (or lack there of) just come off as nuts…BUT it felt like it was suppose to be there because it came off authentic to the universe. It became one of the defining traits that made this less of a reboot of the franchise and more of something that was continuing Max’s stories and his adventures in the wastelands. And, I’ll just thrown this in, that truck with the drummers and the dude playing the flamethrower guitar didn’t really need to be a part of the army because they didn’t really serve a purpose but, dammit, that aspect became the droplet that overfilled my excitement bucket and became the number one reason to see this movie. To sum up this last paragraph, there’s so much insanity going on in the film but it works for the universe and it was incredibly effective at making the film entertaining.

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I could never hope to be this cool.

Finally, let’s talk about the action…

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You know, this type of stuff.

I already mentioned how kickass Hardy and Theron was as Max and Furiosa but this film just doesn’t let up on the gas pedal. Even when the film is establishing the conflict and has what is basically Fury Road’s version of exposition and down-time, the film is high octane and pure adrenaline. The movie is basically one long car chase and it never gets boring. Explosions, flamethrowers, bullets, punches, car wrecks, and a freaking fiery tornado is tossed into the mix and just when you think there might be the slightest potential for the action to get repetitive, something new gets thrown into the mix and George Miller pretty much comes jumping out of the screen to punch you in the face with pure awesomeness. This film is exciting and exciting in a way that has never been seen before in a Mad Max film. Then, to make the action even better, a majority of the action is done with a stunt crew and done practically with little to no CGI. While I have nothing against computer generated effects, nothing beats a good old fashion stunt.

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Sure, they're a bunch of homicidal lunatics but they like to have fun, too.

Mad Max: Fury Road just set the bar high for summer blockbuster action films—and not just for 2015 but probably for the next year or two…or until Miller makes the next one (which *fingers crossed* is all about Furiosa). The story is great, the visuals will make your eyes bleed because they are that flipping amazing, the characters are fucking terrific, the action is enough to give you a heart attack and you’d be thankful for it and the insanity that it throws at you is too cool for words to adequately express. I honestly don’t know how the rest of the summer releases can compete with this one.

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