Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road


****1/2

Wow.

I've been thinking a lot about 1981's Road Warrior because it's one of those movies that spawned an entire subgenre.  Sure, there had been post-apocalyptic movies before, but nobody had yet bothered to make the apocalypse cool.  It's hard to remember a time without the fantasy of the mohawked motorcycling bad guy in a costume both savage and salvage, but in 1980 there was no such person leaving endless dust trails across our collective subconscious.

So what, then, to expect from a new Mad Max?  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't what we got.  It was like George Miller took the dream his movie had become after stewing for 34 years and fed it back to us in a form we didn't know we could have.   We've been to worlds built on the bones of the old worlds before, but the production design is infused with such balls-out lyricism you might as well be watching a movie called Every Heavy Metal Album Cover Ever.

Muscle cars with tank treads, porcupine cars, cars with giant buzzsaws -- this movie is like Ralph Steadman's childhood doodles come to life.  The orchestral soundtrack is operatic in scope, giving the  diesel-fueled adventure a hum of high fantasy, as if these pale, bald, cultish warriors are actually a band of orcs.

I think my cold math reckoned on a director sadly revisiting his most popular moments after he's directed movies about CG penguins, and failing.  Instead George Miller reinvents his own spectacular invention.  This is what Prometheus was supposed to feel like.  Go see it.

6 comments:

AC said...

Wow sounds amazing! What a nice surprise!

Octopunk said...

Exactly! This is like when the Dawn of the Dead remake was not only acceptable, but awesome in its own right.

I held back the full five stars for a few moments when the over-the-topness went a little far (mostly the music). But the whole thing is totally on-mission.

50PageMcGee said...

i've never been one to criticize a movie like this for swinging for the fences, so if george miller wants a truck devoted entirely to a drum circle and a post-apocalyptic mutant doubleneck shred bassist/guitarist, then i say "fuck thee yea" and pound my beer stein on the table.

if i have one criticism, it's entirely about dialogue -- octo said it an interesting way on the phone earlier, referring to tom hardy's mumbling "take" on the character. it's not a bad performance, it's just not quite what you'd expect if you grew up grooving on mel gibson's version.

and there are times that a actor's sass and delivery outweigh the quality of the line they're reading, but for the most part, they're good lines. trim. taut. i'm pretty sure if i were to buy it on blu-ray (and yes, i probably am), i'd find tons of things worth quoting over and over again. very quotable flick, a la the first three MMs, a la Highlander, etc.

i think it's worth 5 stars. the cinematography is eye popping. great wide-angle shots, great closeups. great countermovement in the action scenes. the vehicles and costuming are straight out of a gutsy, oil drenched dream. excellent performances, with lots of nuance.

i came out of The Dark Knight, claiming that that might have been the best action movie i'd ever seen.

this one deserves to be in that discussion.

Fuck. Yeah.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Just got back and goddamn that movie is an adrenalin rush, every bit as good as the preview promised. A delightful coming of age road trip film.

JPX how have you not seen this yet? You should be ashamed of yourself.

JPX said...

I watched The Avengers again, in 3D, awesome!

JPX said...

Terrific review, Octo! Every single line is perfect. I'm so glad that Mad Max delivers - the trailer looks spectacular!