Sunday, 17 May 2015

Film Review: "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015).

"My name is Max. I was a cop searching for a righteous course... My world is reduced to a single instinct: Survive... As the world fell it was hard to know who was more crazy. Me... Or everyone else." This is the opening lines for Mad Max: Fury Road. This Australian post-apocalyptic action-adventure road film directed, produced, and co-written by George Miller, and is the fourth installment of Miller's Mad Max franchise. The first film of the franchise in 30 years. Fury Road is an apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There's Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.

Plans for the fourth film crashed with financial difficulties and the project spent several years in development hell. The idea of a fourth installment occurred to Miller in August 1998 when he was walking in an intersection in Los Angeles. About a year later, while travelling from Los Angeles to Australia, the idea coalesced. The movie was all set to shoot in 2001, but was postponed due to 9/11. Miller then had to move on to Happy Feet (2006). Mel Gibson, who starred in the original three previous films was also set to reprise his role as the lead character. However, the infamous incidents that followed the years didn't permit him to. In 2003, Miller announced that a script had been written for a fourth film, and that pre-production was in the early stages. Although the project was given the green light for a US$100 million budget to begin filming in Australia in May 2003, the film entered hiatus due to security concerns related to trying to film in Namibia because the United States and many other countries had tightened travel and shipping restrictions. With the outbreak of the Iraq War, it was abandoned as it was considered a potentially politically sensitive film. Although Mel Gibson had been cast to return as Max, he lost interest after production was cancelled. Miller again confirmed his intention to make another Mad Max at the 2007 Aurora film maker initiative. However, he stated that he thought Mel Gibson would not be interested in the film because of his age. Heath Ledger was reportedly considered for the lead before his death in 2008. On 5 March 2009, it was announced that an R-rated 3D animated feature film was in pre-production and would be taking much of the plot from Fury Road, although Mel Gibson would not be in the film and Miller was looking for a "different route", a "renaissance" of the franchise. Miller cited the film Akira (1988) as an inspiration for what he wanted to do with the franchise. George Miller was also developing an action-adventure tie-in video game based on the fourth film, along with God of War II video game designer Cory Barlog. Both projects were expected to take two to two-and-a-half years, according to Miller, with a release date of either 2011 or 2012. Fury Road was going to be produced at Dr. D Studios, a digital art studios founded in 2008 by George Miller and Doug Mitchell. On 18 May 2009, it was reported that location scouting was underway for Fury Road. After exploring the possibility of an animated 3D film, George Miller decided instead to shoot a 3D live action film, and at this point plans to make the animated film were immediately dropped. In October 2009, Miller announced that filming would commence at Broken Hill, New South Wales in early 2011, ending years of speculation. This announcement attracted widespread media attention in Australia, with speculation at that time on whether Mel Gibson would return as Max. That same month, British actor Tom Hardy was in negotiations to take the lead role of Max, while it was also announced that Charlize Theron would also play a major role in the film. In June 2010, Hardy announced that he would indeed play a new version of Mad Max. In July 2010, Miller announced plans to shoot two Mad Max films back-to-back, entitled Mad Max: Fury Road and Mad Max: Furiosa. In November 2011, filming was moved from Broken Hill to Namibia, after unexpected heavy rains turned the desert there into a lush landscape of wildflowers, inappropriate for the look of the movie. And there the film went into motion and went into high-gear.

Fury Road stars Tom Hardy as "Mad" Max Rockatansky, making it also the first Mad Max film not to feature Mel Gibson in the title role. The film also stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoƫ Kravitz and Courtney Eaton. Though little dialogue was spoken amongst the characters, the cast gave incredible and amazing physical performances that would make a Michael Bay and John Woo film would look like amateurs. Hardy made a terrific Mad Max; Theron was a badass heroine and Keays-Byrne made a terrifying villain that topped The Toecutter and Lord Humangus.

Mad Max: Fury Road has been consigned to mega budget blockbuster action films, where audiences are responding as Miller wants them to, like going on an unforgettable ride. From there the film will find its way to film schools and lecture halls, where its old-fashioned approach to filmmaking and tough-gutted intelligence may be appreciated. It manages not to waste a single frame of film even as it wastes countless motorcycles, automobiles and other vehicles across the harsh dessert landscape of Namibia. The film, like its predecessors, is a straight forward fusion of two B-movie genres popular in the 1970s: the car chase film and the vigilante revenge film. Shows nothing but skillful filmmaking, a film of pure action, of kinetic energy, and is the most relentlessly aggressive movies ever made. The film's signature car chase is unbelievably well-sustained and the special effects and stunts are spectacular, creating a frightening, sometimes disgusting, and (if the truth be told) exhilarating effect. In conclusion, the film is, without a doubt, the best action film of the century, and by far the best film of the year.

Simon says Mad Max: Fury Road receives:

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