Monday, June 1, 2015

What a Lovely Day!

It was 36 years ago that audiences first met Max Rockatansky. As one of cinema's toughest cops, he became a one man army against outlaws in The Outback. 

Now, Max is back. And he's madder than ever! 

Without spoiling too much about Mad Max: Fury Road, I'll give some thoughts on it here. 

First off, Fury Road is consistent with the other Mad Max films. It isn't a remake (thank God, and George Miller), it's a sequel. While it does reference previous films in the series, it isn't slavishly chained to chronology. Because of this it can act as a gateway to those who aren't familiar with the previous films. My hairdresser hadn't seen, or even knew of the originals. This allowed her to approach Max and savage universe with fresh eyes. That seems to be the order of the day. But I mean that in a good way. Max wasn't remade for a new generation. Instead, he was introduced to a new generation because of this film. Audiences, both veteran and rookie, have embraced him. There's no greater complement to a creator of fantastic cinema then to have your characters live on for generations to come. Well done, Mr. Miller! 

Second, the ecological message of the original trilogy is still intact. It's a message that is just as pertinent, perhaps even more so, today than it was in 1979. While '79 had the "brown outs," we now have legit concerns over global warming. To be honest, those were concerns for a long time. It's just that nobody got the memo until now. The film asks the tough question, "Who killed the world?" The answer is obvious enough: warlords like Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Toecutter in the original Max), and the big wigs who controlled the flow of oil, water, and knowledge. The world broke down because of warring, disregard for the environment; and above all, disregard for the human race. 

That brings me to my third point. The brides of Immortan Joe boldly state, "We are not your property!" No one exemplifies this more than Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Her open defiance of the objectification of women is key to this film. She doesn't need Max to save her. Instead, Max needs Furiosa to save him. In the end, the two save each other. They both learn that trust is needed to survive. It gives one a sense of hope for humanity in the Mad Max Universe. 

Theron has always played strong characters in films. And with Furiosa, she can stand along-side Lt. Ellen Ripley as "toughest woman on film." I'm a huge fan of Charlize Theron. She's one of the best actresses on the screen. She's also one of the most down-to-earth. She's not afraid to get her hands dirty, or transform herself for a role. She always proves that actresses can do more than romantic comedies and damsel-in-distress roles. Frankly, I think she'd rescue any man that was in distress. She certainly needs no saving. As Furiosa she is determined, capable, and cunning. Her mission is one of mercy. But above all, her goal is to see that women are treated with dignity. That's a message that Hollywood is sadly lacking. You wouldn't get such a bold statement in a film made by an American filmmaker. But in Australia, they play by their own rules. 

That brings me to my next point.

This film is WILD! You can't predict a single frame of Mad Max: Fury Road. I won't spoil it here, but there is a death scene that I did not see coming. It's also that same scene that drives home the point of women NOT being objects. While Immortan Joe refers to the brides as his "treasures," and sees them as breeding machines, Furiosa and her crew are worth far more. It's as if the film is suggesting what we've known all along; the value of a human being isn't monetary. That's a message we need to be reminded of often. 

I also want to give kudos to Tom Hardy. When I heard he was cast as Max, I thought, "Perfect!" I was right. He the perfect actor to wear Max's leathers; so much in fact that he wore the actual jacket worn by Mel Gibson in the original movies. As Kat, my hairdresser pointed out, "I get the feeling Tom Hardy is a man of few words." She's right. Hardy's actions speak louder than any words. I've been consistently impressed by every performance I've seen from him. The man could play anyone, or anything. My first taste of his acting chops was in Bronson. Since then I've not been able to get enough of his work. I'm eager to see him in the upcoming film about the notorious Kray twins. 

The breakout role for this film is Nicholas Hoult as Nux. The amped-up warboy is determined to reach Valhalla, or die trying (you have to one to reach the knew what I meant). He delivers the now iconic tagline for the film as well. His character arc is one of redemption. While he's full of manic human, Hoult gives Nux a very human face. He's good at injecting a sense of humanity in all his roles (X-Men, Warm Bodies). I look forward to seeing more from him in the future. 

Also of interest to note is Riley Keough as Capable. She's the stunning redheaded bride that befriends Nux. Her performance was good, and I'm curious to see her in other flicks. I also point her out because she's the granddaughter of The King himself, Elvis Presley, and his queen, Priscillia. I thought she looked familiar, but couldn't place where I'd seen her before. I think she stands on her own here. 

Speaking of rockstar royalty: Zoe Kravity, daughter of Lenny is also riding shotgun (literally). Her character is charmingly named, Toast The Knowing! Again, a good performance. Come to think of it, her dad was good in the Hunger Games movies. 

The return of Hugh Keays-Byrne is an added surprise. I saw him name in the credits, and thought, "Wait a that?" Yep, it's Toecutter! The Mad Max universe has come full-circle. 

I could go on and on about this movie. There's so much to talk about; not the least of which is the guitar-playing-flame-wielding Doof warrior! The rockin' soundtrack he provided played in my head for hours after. This is one of those movies that you'll think about for days after you've seen it. My hairdresser had the same reaction, I think you will too.

I give Mad Max: Fury Road...

Five out of five dingoes! 

What a lovely day! 

Blogger's Note: I did see Mad Max earlier in May, just days after it was released. However, I was so busy with work that blogging had to take a backseat. I'll be back with regular updates moving forward. 

Long live Furiosa! 

Text: Copyright Mr. Joyce 2015
All images are copyright their respective holders. 


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