Tuesday, May 19, 2015

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Is an Unexpected Cinematic Masterpiece

As a cable-loving kid, I got to see and enjoy all of the original Mel Gibson-starred Mad Max movies.  This franchise – or, particularly, the second movie, The Road Warrior – introduced me to the “post-apocalyptic” subgenre and has ever since served as my benchmark for future post-apocalyptic stories I encountered.  When it was announced that a new Mad Max film starring Tom Hardy was happening, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about it.  But I didn’t loathe it as well.  I was willing to give it a chance.

But maybe due to a bit of skepticism in my part, I had this subtle prejudice of already initially dismissing Mad Max: Fury Road’s chance of ending up as a fantastic product.   At best, I was expecting it to be an enjoyable but dumb action movie.  I never expected this movie to be awesome.  And it is.  Seeing it finally, I was blown away.  The entire movie is basically a long, badass car chase sequence, but despite of all the explosions and violence, Mad Max: Fury Road can’t really be mistaken for just a mere dumb action flick.  It’s greatly more than that.  It has depth and art.  It’s a genuine cinematic masterpiece.

The post-apocalyptic tone and setting of Mad Max: Fury Road is basically what we remember from the previous Mad Max movies – only a bit more savage, barren, and hopeless.  The focus of the story is actually on Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa, as she leads the daring escape of the prized “breeders” of Immortan Joe, the tyrannical warlord of the War Boys.  After realizing that the “breeders” are gone, Immortan Joe leads his War Boys in pursuit of the women.  Tom Hardy’s “Mad” Max Rockatansky is only drawn to the conflict after being previously captured by the War Boys and then finding himself strapped on the hood of one of the pursuing vehicles.  Later on, Max and Furiosa became reluctant allies to survive.

This movie, as it carries a noticeable but agreeable feminist message, is as much as Furiosa’s story as Max’s.  Furiosa definitely has the best character moments and development in the movie, but her awesomeness doesn’t diminish the characterization of Max.  He’s still a worthwhile, interesting anti-hero.  This is still his movie after all, and he has enough character moments in this movie to keep it that way.

This is an all-around awesome movie.  Plot, world-building, characters, acting, direction, editing, visuals (oh boy, that mindblowing, breathtaking visuals!), production value, cinematography, action, and even humor – every detail is covered properly and exceptionally that I have nothing to nitpick about.  So far, this is my favorite movie of 2015.

Miscellaneous musings:
  • I love the War Boys’ vehicle that was crammed with speakers and carried a weird electric guitarist.  It was truly inspired.
  • One perfect illustration in which Max and Furiosa elevated each other’s characterization was the scene wherein the party’s truck is stuck in mud while the Bullet Farmer, one of Joe’s allies, is closing in.  In an attempt to stop the Bullet Farmer, or at least slow him down, Max, armed with a sniper rifle with three shots left, shoots twice at the Bullet Farmer but misses both times.  Down on one last shot, Furiosa’s body language indicates that she wants to take that last shot but she hesitates in saying this.  Noticing her desire and probably realizing the fact that she could be a better shot, Max hands her the rifle.  And she does hit the target – blinding the Bullet Farmer.  It was a beautiful moment for both characters.       
  • That sand storm scene!  Just wow!
  • Just like Game of Thrones or Attack on Titan, this movie knows how to develop characters well and make the audience be invested in them, that the deaths always have impact.
  • I hope that in the next Mad Max installment will have a whole new story, with Max finding himself in a different setting from the one in Fury Road, so that we’ll have something fresh.

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