An Off the Cuff Review of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

We saw MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. “Paraphrasing Alfred Hitchcock, Miller said that he wanted the film to be understood in Japan without the use of subtitles.” So Miller said in an interview at SD Comic Con. Good thing, because despite the delicious energy and power of this movie, I couldn’t make out a lot that was said in the dialogue, which was often shouted over loud engines and gunshots. Admittedly, I’m 62 now (hard for me to believe but true) and have many rock concerts both facing and with back to the amplifiers in my past, so my hearing has the edges worn off it. Maybe younger viewers didn’t have the problem. Fortunately for me Miller accomplished his visual storytelling effectively, and I was able to follow the movie well. Eg, I love that they were carrying a tank of mother’s milk as trade for fuel and bullets. That seems rife with symbolism.

We had a great time watching the film, it’s a feast of cinematic visuals, but I left determined to see it again, in theater or at least on DVD, as there were countless shots and angles and design intricacies, and I feel that, swept up in the action, I didn’t quite absorb these details and nuances.

Perhaps the main characters don’t quite come alive as much as they did in Road Warrior; could be Miller almost tries to do too much–but I was involved and touched and adrenalized by FURY ROAD. The actors helped; Tom Hardy was great as Max; Theron projected a strong character–yes there were many strong women in the film. I don’t know about a feminist statement but it’s takes for granted that women can kick your ass.

Sometimes –as in many modern films–you find yourself “seeing” the design boards of things. As you watch the film you imagine a film development artist showing an image to the director and saying, “How about this?” and he loves it and has it built…The vehicles had that effect…They’re wonderful to look at, however.

“In a July 2014 interview at San Diego Comic-Con International, Miller said he designed the film in storyboard form before writing the screenplay, working with five storyboard artists. It came out as about 3,500 panels, almost the same number of shots as in the finished film. He wanted the film to be almost a continuous chase, with relatively little dialogue, and to have the visuals come first.” Also accomplished, and indeed the images starred in this film, in a way that –along with the handling of Max– makes this movie rather like a classic western. Think of John Ford movies. And Miller acknowledged that it’s very like a western.

As for the story, it’s strong, but there’s not much time to digest it. Most movies build to a climax but like Road Warrior this movie is almost all “climax”. It’s almost startling when Max and his allies stop in the desert to communicate.

I found the visual creation of the Citadel, the villain’s butte-based headquarters, especially powerful. The mechanics of it, the use of extras.

Apparently they already have a script for a sequel to Fury Road–I’m still unclear if this is a remake, a reboot, a prequel, a sequel or what–and if it’ makes enough money there’ll be another. It’s *almost* made back its 150 mil budget, and when it’s done with theaters and DVDs and paid downloads I reckon it’ll make 60 mil in profit or so. So I’m optimistic there’ll be a sequel.

I dug this–how am I not going to love the metal guitarist who’s used as a kind of (as my wife said) battle bagpiper for the legions of the charismatic villain? That’s like something from one of my own books, quite accidentally I”m sure…same culture of “mad” excess…

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