Release date: May 15th ,2015
For not having seen any of the Mad Max films before and this being a last ditch effort to see as many of the Best Picture nominees before the Academy Awards, I liked this movie.
As far as I could google before watching it, it appeared that this film was not necessarily a sequel to any of the previous films. Rather it was described as a “revisit” to that world, therefore it should make sense even if you have never seen any of the previous films before. I have not seen any of the three original Mad Max films and for the most part this one made sense. Mostly…
But to start, I want to talk about the things this movie did well.
It was beautiful. The landscapes where expansive and visually stunning. Thanks in part to Namibia, where the movie was filmed, and the amazing team of color correctors working post-production. The brilliant, rich shades of orange used during the day time contrasting the cool hues of blue used at night really helped to influence the mood and just made it looked dope.
This movie was non-stop action. And the action played out so well. The visual effects where great and the editing was done in such a concise way that there was little confusion about what was being shown on screen. Sometimes in movies where there is a lot happening or there are a lot of characters the action gets jumbled.
Take for instance the movie Everest. *SPOILER ALERT* During the storm, as the group of hikers are trying to get to safety, there are many things happening involving at least three groups of hikers at different locations on the mountain. To top that off there are all wearing large coats, hat, gloves, goggles, etc. It gets very hard to tell them apart and actually lessens the emotional impact when one/some of them die. *END ALERT* This movie also had many characters that looked similar in various locations in the fast moving action. Yet, Mad Max: Fury Road did not fall victim to the classic plunder! I was still able to keep track of who was where and what was happening to each of them. So when I needed to have an emotional reaction, I could! Because I cared!
However, I will say this movie did have some moments that were frustrating.
As a viewer I don’t like to feel jerked around. I liked to know where the plot is heading, not that things can’t take a twist, but definitely not a 180.
For the first half of this movie we understand that Max (Tom Hardy), Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and the runaway brides, who have escaped a place called The Citadel only to be chased by a lot of angry people including the leader and husband to the brides, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), are headed for safety in the Green Place. I’m assuming a place full of trees and water and life in the midst of the endless desert landscape that plagues this world. Yet, our merry band of adventurers *SPOILER ALERT* get to their destination only to find it gone and the people that inhabited this safe zone are reduced to 10ish survivors and now live in the desert too. With their new allies, the group decides their best chance of surviving is to turn around and go back The Citadel traveling right into the war parties that have been chasing them. *END ALERT*
I felt a little cheated as a viewer at this point. Up until them I was expected to believe that are characters wanted this one specific outcome and they would get a version of that, but then with very little explanation I, as the audience, am expected to accept that this completely opposite outcome would be better.
I mean I guess it makes sense once everything unfolds, why they had to go there and back again, but I felt a little swindled as an attentive viewer at first. I think there just needed to be something more substantive in the writing for the characters to come to that decision, instead of Max just deciding it.
As I said at the beginning, I have not seen another Mad Max film before. This picture definitely required me to put some pieces together while I was watching it. The hard part is I don’t know if they were just plot holes that actually weren’t there or I just didn’t understand fully because of a lack of back story.
Regardless, if you are “rebooting” a series 30 years after the last one premiered, it probably should make sense to a new audience without them having to catch up. Come on, writers.
I will say this movie definitely needs another viewing to really pick up on the storyline. I feel like I missed some things in the beginning that I didn’t put together until later. The whole half-life people and why Max was used as a blood bank thing. Max’s backstory. Why Immortan Joe was the way that he was. And what the heck was the deal with all the breast milk??
Overall, this movie was much better than I anticipated. It was visually stunning, I actually enjoyed it, the action was intense and not over-the-top. (Sometimes action movies like these can be a bit cheesy, but this movie never felt that way.) The action that was seen was needed. Great performances by everyone involved. I think that Nicholas Hoult, who played Nux, was especially phenomenal and thankfully Tom Hardy kept his mumbling to a minimum.
The big question though…will it win Best Picture?…probably not, but I wouldn’t write it off for some visual effects awards!