Film Micrœview #200: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

05.19.2015 § Leave a comment

Rating: Dr. Pepper.

Incredible. Everything that’s great about cartoons, except that they actually did all this shit.

Downsides, as compared to the originals, were a lack of chaos and a lame Max. The action in this modern take was significantly more logical, unrealistic, timed for character arc moments and fitting simultaneous confrontations, Hollywood-centerpiece type stuff – a big part of what I liked about chases in the older films was the nonsensical, unpredictable, gritty unforgivingness of the battle/chase events. And while I don’t want to do Lem Gisnob any favors, he played Max a lot cooler and straighter than “Fool” Hardy here – could have done without his goofy tics.

That stuff aside, this film deserves infinite praise for its production design, creative combat and jaw-dropping stunts, and just the sheer audio-visual spectacle and beauty and genius it achieves. Dust lightning storm, heavy metal bungee taiko amp rig, insane spliced cars… (though I could have done without a lot of the high shutter speed and fast-mo/spastic editing and ridiculous color grading, all of which detracted from the profilmic purity of the breathtaking stuntwork footage). And in fact, what makes it strongest often is its restraint from going too far, into eye-rolling territory – over-the-top, yet never intelligence-insulting. It doesn’t indulge dramatic moments – the pacing is swift, just enough to cover the moments. I suppose you could say it perfectly portrays the excess of its denizens, without itself succumbing to it.

Plus, the feminist edge is fantastic, and clearly no accident that it’s getting all this credit as such. Gender roles are subverted throughout. Jokes at men’s expense, objectifying and ridiculing their part in the biological process. Strong, practical, but not unrealistic or man-ified female characters.

I’m already quite fascinated by the nature of the Mad Max character: he is kind of like the serial wild card – never the true hero of the central story he drops into, but always pivotal in turning the tide in favor of those in the right.

This film will stand the test of time. I hope it will be influential. This, with Star Wars VII if it lives up to the hype, may put 2015 on the map as the year of practical effects.

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