Saturday, 16 May 2015

Review: Mad Max - Fury Road

World of Blackout Film Review

Mad Max: Fury Road (3D) Poster

Mad Max: Fury Road (3D)
Cert: 15 / 120 mins / Dir. George Miller / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

Now, most reviews you read of Mad Max: Fury Road will spend time concentrating on comparing the movie to its 1970s/80s predecessors, both visually and tonally. I won't be doing that. I believe firmly that a re-cast film released in a different era from the original works should be able to stand on its own merit and act as a complement to its brethren rather than relying on them as a crutch. Also, I've never watched the first three. Whatever. I was a bit too young when they first came out, and nothing that's happened since (other than this film) has made me really want to investigate them. Under the normal run of things I'd have caught up over the last couple of weeks, but it really hasn't been that kind of a couple of weeks.

And so the eagerly awaited George Miller sequel/reboot/re-imagining roars onto our screens in a flurry of dust, oil and blood. Tom Hardy takes on the mantle of the titular Max, whilst Charlize Theron more than holds her own as Imperator Furiosa, and Nicholas Hoult plays Nux - a sort of Jar Jar Binks of the post-apocalyptic outback. The plot involves a heavily pregnant Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (from out of Transformers 3), and a there-and-back-again road-trip picking up a coachload of grannies en-route. That's about it, from what I could gather.

Let me state for the record that I didn't dislike Fury Road; it just didn't hold my interest. Whether this is because of my lack of background or not, I don't know. What I do know is that it felt like watching someone else play Carmageddon for two hours. Fury Road displays plenty of action, yet led to me feeling detached and even bored in places. The film has spectacle in spades, but I struggled to find the substance to back that up. I applaud writer/director George Miller and Warner Bros for making the film and making it well, it's just not one that I particularly enjoyed.

Some breathtaking photography (both landscape and action) courtesy of John Seale sets the striking visual tone for Miller's vision. Interestingly, Fury Road features no sunrises or sunsets, just the very distinct colour signatures of ochre and azure for day and night respectively. It's a beautifully filmed opera of the absurd, and in this respect the film succeeds like few others. The performances are less remarkable, sadly, straddling a script of relatively few words. Although this is just as well, since much of the remaining dialogue is clunkier than the film's array of cannibalised vehicles. I just had the nagging feeling throughout that everyone involved is capable of better.

Oh, and the 3D's relatively good for a live-action, and isn't anywhere as distracting as Tom Hardy's ongoing search for an accent.

Mad Max: Fury Road is by no means a stupid film, but it delights in acting the part. Essentially a two-hour car chase whereby Handsome Bob and Pseudo-Ripley are pursued by a stylistic mashup of Darth Vader and a fat Skeletor.
Which is fine, but that's the basis for a video game, not a movie…

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
If you're already a hardened fan of the series, yes.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Probably a rental.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Hardy, Theron and Hoult have all done much, much better to be fair.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Pass… oh, probably.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I didn't hear one, but the movie is 90% white-noise so I could well have missed it.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Charlize Theron starred in 2003's remake of The Italian Job alongside Seth Green aka droid Todo 360 in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
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  1. Disagree. I loved this film!

    The lack of dialogue expressed the characters' dismay better than words ever could have. I noticed the unstable accents but wasn't distracted by them because - it's a dystopian future, why would I expect anyone to have a recognisable accent? (also I think what you've identified as errors of script and its execution are meant to be nods at the original films)

    Visually, the film is spectacular and as I watched, knowing that the war trucks, speed, fire and stunts were all real made the experience better. I can't argue that the plot was great, but it's an action film. Plot is allowed to take a back seat to spectacle - that's the point of an action film.

    You didn’t at all address the one thing about this film that sets it apart from other action films: Furiosa’s role as a powerful woman at the centre of the action whose choices drive the plot! All of the debate about whether a woman should be allowed a role like this was 100% my motivation for going to see this movie. That Furiosa’s role was so successful is what made the film for me and made it worth my £10. I also really loved that both heroes were allowed to be fallible, and that they made up for each other’s shortcomings. (Max’s failure to shoot the war truck in the night scene, and Furiosa taking over for him. Furiosa got stabbed while she was distracted and almost died - only Max could keep her alive.) It’s a self-sacrificing kind of heroism that you don’t see in a typical action hero: a near-invincible dude who single handedly saves the world and everything in it.

    Something else you should read:

  2. Oh, I didn't say that it was bad; just that I didn't particularly enjoy it. I think they could have done more with what is an outstanding-looking movie.

    Oh, and Furiosa being a protagonist with a disability is way more interesting than her chromosome-setup ;)

    And this: