Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton

Screenplay: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris

120 mins. Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.

iMDB Top 250: #68 (as of 7/10/2015)

 

How often does a film get a good sequel 36 years after its initial release? Not often. That’s the answer, and it was my worry when I heard that Mad Max would be continuing the franchise with a fourth installment, Mad Max: Fury Road featuring a new Max in Tom Hardy (Inception, Child 44). In this new chapter, Max Rockatansky is captured and used as a blood bag by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Moby Dick, Sleeping Beauty) and his War Boys. When the War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies, X-Men: Days of Future Past) takes Max along on his hunt for Joe’s missing wives, stolen from him by his Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, Prometheus, Dark Places), Max gets caught in a war on Fury Road and his alliances to only himself must be put into question.

APPROVED BY - SJE(Tom Hardy)

Director George Miller (Happy Feet, Babe: Pig in the City) proves that age is only a number as he controls the most high-octane action spectacle that I can recall in recent memory. His unique blend of story with nonstop action gives audiences a personal tale of freedom, redemption, and the ability to survive in a world without laws.

Tom Hardy is a great new Max. He doesn’t need to speak often to convey the complex emotions and depression that Max struggles from after the loss of his wife and child. His leadership struggle with new ally Furiosa, played excellently by Theron. Just like the previous films, this film isn’t entirely about Max. It’s a Furiosa movie all the way. Many have complained that the focus should be on Max, but what they should realize is that this series is rarely ever focused on Max. Each adventure is usually told as a legend from another’s perspective and in Fury Road, that perspective is Furiosa’s.

Hugh Keays-Byrne and Joe’s brides, including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and Zoe Kravitz (Divergent, Dope), all do great work as well, with a standout crazy performance from Nicholas Hoult as Nux.

The usage of 80% practical effects over computer-generated images helps create an astoundingly realistic yet overwhelmingly fantastical view of the apocalyptic landscape. The screenplay, a combination of sequences storyboarded and story written to format it, works so well. And then there is Miller’s reliance on trying new things, like hiring wife Margaret Sixel to edit the film. Sixel has no experience editing, but he entrusted her to use her novice skills to create something new and interesting, coupled beautifully with the furious score from Junkie XL.

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Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best times you will have at the theater this summer and contains some of the best action sequences ever put to the screen. Miller’s creative decision to devise something new rather than fall back on remakes and rehashes helps to bring in fans of the original while attracting new attention from non-fans.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of George Miller’s Mad Max, click here.

 

Mad Max (1979)

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley, Tim Burns, Roger Ward

Screenplay: James McCausland, George Miller

88 mins. Rated R.

 

Legends get passed down from generation to generation, but a legend is only as good as the storyteller who tells it. The storyteller can make a legend. The storyteller can break a legend. Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson, Braveheart, The Expendables 3) is the stuff of legends, as is the series that defined his status.

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In Mad Max, the first in the series created by George Miller (Happy Feet Two, Babe: Pig in the City), we meet Max Rockatansky as a normal man. In the later films, he is presented as a myth, but here we see Max as a vengeful and angry man looking for justice in a world that no longer contains it. He plays cat-and-mouse and mouse-and-cat with the malicious Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Moby Dick, Sleeping Beauty) as he loses everything close to him.

It’s hard to discuss Mad Max without spoilering a lot, but I’m going to try to get through it. George Miller absolutely commands this film and creates a wild and wily experience with some truly incredible action sequences. He also creates a likable flawed hero and a disturbed monstrous villain in Toecutter.

What sets Mad Max apart from the later films in the series is that the sequels are told from someone else’s perspective, whereas Mad Max is an origin story to a legend. It creates a character that is relatable as he slowly becomes larger than life.

Mel Gibson isn’t at his best here, but his skills develop as his performance progresses. George Miller gives him plenty to play with, though.

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Mad Max is worth seeing for its insanity. This film is pure insanity. It is the weakest of the franchise to this point, but it works as an origin story and a story of revenge very well. No one will tell you it is perfect, but it is the strangest cheese that sometimes tastes the best.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

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