Sunday, May 31, 2015

Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Hell on Wheels.

Is this a movie or a really vivid hallucination?  Whatever else you want to say about Aussie filmmaker George Miller's return to the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max, you can't say that he isn't committed. Miller is completely dedicated to turning his fever dream roaring into maniacal life with all the gonzo gusto and automotive mayhem you can imagine ... and then some.  The premise of the thing is pure B-movie fodder, but somehow - impossibly, even - Miller turns what is essentially (let's be real here) a two-hour-long desert car chase into a surprisingly entertaining, even occasionally substantive, story.  Bolstered by actual practical special effects, moments of Oscar-level cinematography (yes, you read that right), and a much-ballyhooed performance by Charlize Theron as a bald, war-painted, one-armed road warrior named Imperator Furiosa (I can't make this stuff up if I tried), Mad Max: Fury Road both is and isn't exactly what you expect from a movie with that name ... and you will love it for being so.

I'm not sure how much I can say about the movie without spoiling your experience of seeing it for the first time and getting Miller's unhinged imagination thrown right into your face.  No matter how familiar you are with the Mel Gibson Mad Max, you won't be fully prepared for this latest go-around in the savage burning wasteland.  Of course there's Max, played by the versatile Tom Hardy (how is he not already a superstar of epic proportions?), but in one of the most subversive moves of the entire film, Max isn't the protagonist.  He shares the spotlight with Theron's Furiosa when he ends up traveling with her on her desperate mission, and it is a testament to Miller's storytelling that this diminishes neither character but instead creates a bond of mutual respect that elevates them both.  These two damaged badasses don't have time for cliched kissyface nonsense, but you don't need it or even want it here: you want to see them howling ferociously through sand dunes and gas fumes in a deadly game of chase with the grotesque masked villain, the hilariously named Immortan Joe, and his army of painted minions (including - of all people - Nicholas Hoult, his usual beauty utterly obscured). 

I'll leave you with the best line I've yet read about this movie: "Mad Max: Fury Road is like the film adaptation of your favorite heavy metal album cover."

Mad Minerva gives Mad Max: Fury Road a grade of A-.  It's a masterpiece of genre filmmaking, a cult classic from the word go, and one hell of a thrill ride, but I can't see myself watching it very often.

Mad Max: Fury Road runs for 120 minutes and is rated R for intense violence, action sequences, disturbing images, and completely unhinged vehicular pandemonium.  

Rotten Tomatoes gives Mad Max: Fury Road the unbelievably Fresh rating of 98%.

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