(Partial) Movie Review: "Mad Max: Fury Road" 92015)

Randall Anthony Schanze
Randall Anthony Schanze's picture

Mad Max: Fury Road. Owing to circumstances I'd rather not go into, I only got to see about 1/3rd of the movie and then I had to leave. I was never in a position where I could just sort of relax and let the movie I've been waiting for for 15 years absorb me. Hopefully I'll be able to see the full thing while it's still in theaters, but I kinda doubt it.

My review of what I saw, spoiler-free as possible (Meaning I'm not revealing anything important, or that wasn't in the commercials, and I honestly don't know how it ends)

* Max narrating his own backstory in the beginning is a mistake. His lines are goofy, and he's a better character when he's inscrutable.

* Max does not make a good showing for himself in what I saw of the movie. He rolls his car in a chase not 5 minutes in, is taken prisoner, and basically does nothing of note for the first 45 minutes. They do haul him around for a good reason.

* this time out, the bad guys are a sort of motorhead norse pagan religious cult run by a guy named "Immortal Joe." They've got a huge enclave of maybe 30,000 people in the desert, and at least two other towns or outposts. Joe, and his warriors, all appear to have varying degrees of radiation sickness.

* There's no particular shortage of gas or bullets, as compared to "The Road Warrior"

* The main character is Furiosa, at least in the part I saw.

* The chase scenes - what I could see of them - were pretty impressive.

* There is more CGI in the film than I was led to believe. It's not gratuitous, but it is a little obvious.

My first impression was that it lacked the sleek narrative cleanliness of The Road Warrior, which is still the best postapocalyptic movie ever made. The story is more involved than just gay bikers vs. hippie refinery townsfolk. The cult idea is super-neat, and Immortal Joe's armada made me hoot with glee at its over-the-top nature, but on the whole the scale of the movie is too big and it felt cartoonish to me.

I mean, the world didn't fall apart long ago. Less than 5 years, but they've had time to carve this huge sculpture into a sheer cliff face and build a fortress/palace behind it? And the facemasks and Furiosa's apparently-working cybernetic arm? And the apparently-well-developed religious establishment? Some of it is just plain goofy. It's also just too BIG compared with what we see in The Road Warrior, and the implicit impression that this is the first time Max's seen any kind of organized stuff since the world ended. Compared to this, though, the whole refinery deal is small potatoes

So when does this take place? Well, I think the official continuity is "Don't worry about it," but internal clues put it between "Mad Max" and "The Road Warrior." Why? Max still has his V8 interceptor (Which he rolls, but we do see a quick shot of it being rebuilt), Max is still crazy (He wasn't anymore after The Road Warrior), He doesn't have his dog yet, and, uhm, yeah, I guess that's about it, really. There's about 5 years between Mad Max and Mad Max 2 (About 2 years IRL), so I'd say this takes place maybe in the middle of that period, or a bit before. Call it "Mat Max 1.5"

Interesting note:

Miller always insisted that whatever destroyed the world was *NOT* a Nuclear War, because "If there was a nuclear war, no one would survive at all." He maintained this even in the third movie, despite mentions of "Hard rain," and someone trying to sell irradiated water. (Water can not hold a radioactive charge, but whatever.) In *THIS* movie, it's clearly post-nuclear-war. The bad guys all seem to have radiation sickness, and we get a quick glimpse of the shockwave of a nuclear blast. So WTF?