Mad Max: Fury Road Bulletpoint Hoedown

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-lovely-day

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. I don’t need to write a full review of this, do I? Nah. You know what this movie is all about.

So here’s a list of random observations:

  • I feel like it’s becoming increasingly common for movies to have really poor sound mixing where I can barely tell what anyone is saying. Maybe it’s just the cinemas I go to.
  • This movie and me started off on the wrong foot got two reasons: I’m pretty averse to the grimy post-apocalyptic aesthetic, of which this is probably the most eye-searingly potent example in history, and I dislike frenetic fever-dream editing, which the early parts of the movie have in spades.
  • FURIOSA. FURIOSA FURIOSA FURIOSA.
  • I liked how Max spends like half the movie grunting monosylabically and pointing guns at people and generally acting pretty much exactly like the bad guys.
  • The patriarchy symbolism is really blatant in this movie. The villain is this flabby, aging warlord who wears a plastic shell designed to look like a six-pack and all of the Warboys practice a quasi-religion based around the most basic and super-duper macho elements of Viking mythology.
  • FURIOSA
  • “Who killed the world?” is a recurring question in the movie. The bad guys are the above-mentioned destructive patriarch and his allies: a dude in a business suit who’s obsessed with the post-apocalyptic equivalent of monetary value, some place called Gasland or Gasville or something, and the “Bullet Farm”. Who killed the world? Men, guns, capitalism, oil. This is almost veering into Captain Planet levels of obviousness, and I kind of respect the sheer audacity of it.
  • FURIOSA
  • I completely didn’t buy the red-haired lady’s romance with Nux. Come on, seriously. Come on.
  • I wish more novels would take this film’s approach to world building, where it just doesn’t explain shit and trusts the audience to be able to work out the important details. What exactly is an Imperator? The Warboys answer to them. Beyond that it doesn’t matter. The role that each element plays in the plot is more important than the details of that element, such that the latter can be omitted entirely.
  • It’s kind of uncomfortable how post-apocalyptic stories featuring mutants always cast the heroes as genetically “pure”. In Fury Road the bad guys are frequently portrayed as hideous, diseased and mutated while our heroes are attractive and healthy. That makes sense for the wives since they were obviously selected specifically for those qualities, but what about Max and Furiosa (FURIOSA), or the biker grannies? I guess Nux is a counterpoint, but even then his tumours are (I think) supposed to have been acquired rather than being the result of some sort of mutation or birth defect.
  • I got an huge kick out of the scene where Max wanders off to deal with the blinded guy chasing them, then there’s an enormous explosion in the distance and he comes back covered in blood and is like “okay I did it”.
  • FURIOSA
  • Seriously the biker grannies were cool as fuck, I want a movie about them
  • So Mad Max obviously pioneered the biker-gang post-apocalyptic aesthetic as long as you ignore Fist of The North Star, which actually pioneered the biker-gang post-apocaylptic aesthetic, but I feel like a lot of imitators miss this movie’s (and I assume Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome’s) treatment of the post-apocalypse as a place where humans have formed actual societies and cultures out of the ashes. This isn’t just a “scavanger world” situation with people scrounging bits of rusted metal and leather and life is cheap, they’re new civilizations with completely alien mindsets and values. It’s interesting.
  • FURIOSA
  • So here we have an action movie in which there’s zero shaky-cam, I know what everyone is doing at all times and why, the action scenes involve characters I actually care about and they have motivations that are clear and make sense. This should not be as big a breath of fresh air as it is.
  • Overall, I liked the movie. Like I said, it has several strikes against it just for purely personal reasons, but it was a fun time. And it had Furiosa in it, so there’s that.
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10 thoughts on “Mad Max: Fury Road Bulletpoint Hoedown

  1. reveen

    I just realized that George Miller also wrote and produced Babe, and directed Happy Feet. Being able to pull off both happy talking animals and heavy metal post apocalyptic dystopia? That’s talent.

    Reply
  2. DXW

    “So Mad Max obviously pioneered the biker-gang post-apocalyptic aesthetic as long as you ignore Fist of The North Star, which actually pioneered the biker-gang post-apocaylptic aesthetic”

    Eh? “Mad Max” came out in 1979. “Mad Max 2” came out in 1981. “Fist of the North Star” the manga started in 1983. How do you follow? I always thought FotNS was basically “Mad Max” + Bruce Lee.

    Reply
  3. Jamie

    >I wish more novels would take this film’s approach to world building, where it just doesn’t explain shit and trusts the audience to be able to work out the important details.

    THIS. This stuck out to me more than almost anything–there is *amazing* economy of “worldbuilding” or whatever you want to call it, and a huge amount of faith in the audience’s ability to catch the details and assemble them into something like the framework the movie operates in. I was impressed, and hopefully I learned a thing or two.

    I have the opposite reaction you do to this particular post-apocalyptic aesthetic–it punches a huge swath of my happy buttons, simultaneously–so perhaps I’m more inclined to be charitable than I would otherwise. 🙂

    Reply
    1. devilsjunkshop

      Agreed on the ‘economy’ thing. I saw some blogger complaining that the movie didn’t do it for them as it was all whizz-bang action without context and you ‘never got to learn about the characters and so you didn’t care’…whilst I’m watching the movie and being repeatedly impressed by the sheer amount of background and motivation they get across with so very little.

      Reply
  4. braak

    There’s a good video about how not only is the camerawork in Fury Road not shaky, but all of the scenes are shot with a pretty strict center framing (meaning, whatever is happening on screen is happening at or about the very center of the frame), so that when it cuts rapidly between different shots, your eye never has to readjust to a new point of focus.

    It’s almost like, not only did George Miller decide to make a movie filled with frantic action, but he went out of his way to use filmatic techniques to make sure that the audience could tell what the fuck was going on.

    Reply
  5. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    I didn’t see Nux and Capable’s relationship as a romance since Nux seems to childlike in most ways. It seemed like it was just a friendship that developed between them, one where Nux didn’t have to be constantly posturing and acting as masculine as possible like when he was with Slit and the other Warboys, and it showed that Capable was able to forgive someone who helped perpetuate the system that enslaved her, once Nux was no longer a danger to her and willing to help.

    Reply
    1. braak

      yeah, I felt like, emotionally it still happened too fast — in a different movie, there’d have been more space for that to happen and that would’ve made it seem more realistic. BUT I feel like allegorically — as a symbol for how a more gender-integrated society can help to relieve the toxic macho posturing of the patriarchy — it was exactly right.

      Reply

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