aNewDomain — Mad Max storms back into theaters this weekend and I will be along for the ride.
The only question is whether I can get my wife to join in or if she will duck into “Pitch Perfect 2” instead.
When it comes to movies, we have our differences.
After months of brilliant hype — check out the most recent trailer below the fold — “Mad Max: Fury Road” is coming this week. And it’s giving new life to a franchise that started more than a generation ago in 1979. The original “Mad Max” was followed in 1981 by “Road Warrior,” the crown jewel of the series. Four years later, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” was released in all its PG-13 glory. The most maligned film in the group, Thunderdome actually wasn’t terrible for the first 30 to 40 minutes. Once Max actually got beyond Thunderdome and kids were introduced to the mix, things quickly went downhill.
Max, aka Max Rockatansky, was brought to life by Mel Gibson and director George Miller. As is often the case, Max’s motivation is revenge, after his wife and son are run down by an outlaw gang. What makes the film more unique is the fact that the story is set in an apocalyptic Australian Outback, as if there’s much difference between imagination and reality in the stark surroundings.
The second and third films are highlighted by eye-popping chase scenes, most notably “Road Warrior.” Reviews of the fourth entry in the series say this film is a movie-long chase scene, filled with unreal stunts and precious little CGI. Much like “Road Warrior,” the film is reportedly light on dialogue with a plot put in place merely as a platform for non-stop violence and hair-raising thrills.
For those of us who have appreciated the Mad Max franchise for years, this film has been too long coming. When cameras finally started rolling four years ago, the action marked more than a decade of planning by director Miller. Shooting was moved from Australia to Namibia because the original location had seen significant rain and was covered in flowers. Switching to Africa ensured the necessary gritty surroundings.
If the film had been made around the time Miller began envisioning it in 1999, Gibson would have filled the role again. Time marched on, Gibson’s private life became a mess and Miller eventually chose Tom Hardy as his new star. The British-born Hardy was an easy choice for Miller, who found his “animal magnetism” reminiscent of Gibson’s when casting for the original film was set in the late 1970s.
Added to the mix this time is a strong female character, some would say the lead, in Charlize Theron. Her Imperator Furiosa could see life past this film, if reports are accurate. Miller says he has written two more entries in the series, which he compares to the venerable James Bond franchise.
Bond on extreme adrenaline, maybe. Shaken and stirred.
The lone holdover from the first film is India native Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the evil and equally unbalanced Toecuttter character way back then. His Immortan Joe in the latest film reportedly tops anything Toecutter pulled off in the original.
Miller’s enthusiasm for Max is clear. Fury Road is only the sixth feature film he has directed since Thunderdome, a career that includes both “Happy Feet” movies and the dark and underrated “Babe: Pig in the City.”
I’ve yet to find anyone besides me who prefers the second “Babe” entry to the first.
For anyone who dismisses this reboot as an over-the-top two hours, I offer a few of the opinions expressed at rottentomatoes.com. As of May 13, two days before the film’s release, only one of 70 reviews posted on the site was considered negative.
· “Strap in, load up and hang on because “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a freaky, ballsy, phenomenal ride.” Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
· “The movie of the summer thunders in on 22 armor-spiked wheels, because an 18-wheeler just wouldn’t do.” Roger Moore, Tribune News Service
· “Fury Road is the rare mega-budget movie that has both heft and playfulness; it’s dark but fun, a churning orgy of sand and fire that pirouettes with balletic grace.” Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
· “A triumph. Every minute of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD had me smiling, and every action sequence had my heart pumping. It’s a modern action movie masterpiece.” Devin Faraci, Badass Digest
If it’s good enough for Badass Digest, it’s good enough for me. Really, it should be good enough for anyone.
I bought into the hype when the teaser trailer debuted at Comic-Con last July. True fans have been on watch ever since.
Ride on, Max. And try to stop by a little more often.
For aNewDomain, I’m Rodney Campbell.
Here’s the most recent Mad Max Fury Road trailer:
Both images courtesy of Warner Brothers, all rights reserved.