Sunday, May 17, 2015
Movie Review - "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015) - What A Lovely Day!
When it comes to filming any sort of action movie, there are three different routes the director can take - Either to make the action simple, logical and fluid, to be elaborate, sprawling and epic, or make something that is elaborate seem like it is simple.
A logical action film, like "The Terminator" or "Assault On Precinct 13" are barebones and do not attempt to do much else other than serve as a vehicle for suspenseful action sequences. Then there are sprawling action films, like "The Avengers" or "Die Hard," which take every opportunity to showcase the detail and scope of the filmmakers, so that the audience may share in their passion for filmmaking.
Every once in a while, you get a film that falls into that third group - Where you can tell that the filmmakers put in intense thought, time, creative ingenuity and passion into every frame of the film, yet it is combined with a simple and straight forward narrative and direction that everything flows naturally.
It is as if the film is walking a tight rope between simplicity and over-the-top, only in this case that tight rope is insanely tiny that is seems invisible, and it seems as though the film is walking on air.
This is the charm of "Mad Max: Fury Road." In its execution, the film could not be simpler, as the characters run on logical reasoning and their drive to survive in this world that no longer suits them, while at the same time the filmmakers put in as many loving details and eccentricities to the visual style. This makes watching the film a feast to both the eyes and the mind.
Set some time after the events of the previous "Mad Max" films, Max (Tom Hardy) continues to roam what is left of humanity's wasteland, attempting to outrun scavengers, crazies trying to get his supplies, and his own demons of people that he could not save. After Max is captured by a ruthless cult leader who controls a massive underground water supply, he ends up getting caught in a revolt where Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) attempts to take the leader's women used for breeding away from this dreaded place and keep them somewhere safe.
Honestly, there was very little of this film that did not impress me, but what got me the most was how little of the film was computer generated imagery. The majority of this film relies on stunt work, tricky camera placement and movement and utilizing the massive landscape of the barren desert. Obviously there are a few scenes that rely on CGI, like a scene with a car chase through the middle of a desert storm, but it is used logically and sparingly. The size and scope of that chase would not have been possible without CGI, so I have no complaints.
The visual style of "Mad Max: Fury Road" is stunning to say the least. Every shot of this film is visually pleasing in one way or another. Whether it is the size of the desert landscape against our tiny characters with a massive army of cars approaching them, the lighting of a scene from inside the cult leader's hoard of steering wheels as if it is a shrine to cars, to the jumbled-messes of vehicles that everyone drives that range from absurd to awesome, to the massive explosion of a gasoline tanker while Max zips passed it on a car driving by.
Imagine "Lawrence Of Arabia" if it was directed by James Cameron, and you get a pretty good idea of what "Mad Max: Fury Road" might be like.
Also, talk about an empowering film for women. Besides Charlize Theron kicking all sorts of crazies (and with one hand no less), she has several other dedicated and knowledgable women by her side who are ready to throw down if they have to. In fact, Max becomes sort of minor character at some points to the dramatic action sequences to showcase these women taking down a horde of insane bandits as they head into the eye of the storm.
But what makes "Mad Max: Fury Road" so satisfying is that, when it comes to the plot and motivations for our characters, the film could not be any more simple. Furiosa is doing this because these women need some sort of hope in a world that has none. They've lived their lives just surviving, and now that they've suffered for this long, they deserve to live. This is helped further by having very little dialogue between the main characters, as there is not much that needs to be said.
It is rare to see an action film today where the main characters do not act out of some version of revenge, equality, liberation or vengeance. These characters are merely looking for salvation, which is nice to see.
"Mad Max: Fury Road" is a gem that stands out above any other summer blockbuster in the past decade. It is beautiful to look at, straight forward in its execution, yet elaborate at showcasing stunning action sequences, and never stops being exciting and fun. If you enjoy action films of any kind, be sure to go see this one and you will not be disappointed.
Final Grade: A