Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

Even after thirty years, the future still belongs to the Mad.

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road this afternoon, and it was superb. Not just the best Mad Max movie ever, but one of the best action movies I have ever seen, period. Max was properly laconic, and properly mad. The bleak landscape was gloriously not monochrome. The aesthetic of metal and chrome was turned to 11. The stunts were super athletic. The heavy use of practical effects really gives it weight. The sets, cars, and other props are proper pieces of artwork. The directing lets you see them all while still making sure you know what's going on during all the action. It was an amazing ride, with astonishing pacing that allowed a surprising amount of character touches, from actors who were totally on point, without ever actually seeming to slow down.

Theron's Furiosa very nearly steals the entire show, and stands confidently as every bit the badass that Max is. For my money, Furiosa has the potential to be for this generation of sci-fi/fantasy kids what Weaver's Ellen Ripley was for mine.

Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior were the defining archetype of the post-apocalyptic action movie. Westerns with cars instead of horses, insanity instead of Indians, and gasoline instead of gold, backed by a reversal of the frontier's promise of endless potential to one of endless collapse. Max himself was envisioned as a legendary figure, the movies as stories told about him. Fury Road brings the legend back for a new generation, and this legend has grown in the telling.

Honestly, I don't really even have the skill to properly analyze or describe how magnificent an action movie this was. Instead, I will leave you with a few quotes from better writers than I that capture why I haven't stopped smiling since leaving the theater.

"A myth of the time of steel and petrol, that’s about collapsing back into dark history. ... FURY ROAD doesn’t feel like a modern film. It’s a throwback to classical filmmaking. A scream from the nightmares of the last century." —Warren Ellis

"The peculiar glory of huge physical objects in hard kinetic service to the fantastic." —William Gibson via Twitter.

"You don’t realize just how crappy most action movies are, until you see something like Mad Max: Fury Road... After three previous Mad Max films, Miller understands that the post-apocalyptic story isn’t so much about the collapse of society’s institutions, but about what replaces them — and he’s fascinated by the twisted attempts to create a functioning society in the ruins of our own." —Charlie Jane Anders, review

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