Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
This piece originally ran on VeryAware.com where it lived, died and now lives on again to ride shiny and chrome at FreshFiction.tv.
If you bought a ticket to director George Miller’s insanity-driven epic masterpiece MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, there’s a good chance you were blown away by all the spectacle. If you didn’t, first, what’s wrong with you? And secondly, let me try to convince you to see it. In the intense actioner, laconic former cop Max (Tom Hardy) and war rig driver Furiosa (Charlize Theron) attempt to restore order to a desolate, depraved dystopia ruled by despot Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).
While I’ll try to keep this spoiler-free, if you want to remain the utmost surprised by everything this cinematic exploration of a post-apocalyptic world has to offer, then stop reading and GO BUY THE MOVIE ALREADY!
For all others that maybe still need convincing, here are a few of the film’s highlights.
17. The marching band that plays the soldiers off to [vehicular] war[fare] – specifically The Doof Warrior, a.k.a. the guy in the red long johns playing the guitar that shoots fire. Akin to in the past when marching bands would play the soldiers to the battlegrounds in order to control and entertain the troops, Miller does this too – of course in the most wild, rock n’ roll way possible.
16. The War Boys’ insane silver spray paint death ritual. Valhalla plays a big part in this movie and it’s referenced during a few key moments during the film before characters attempt kamikaze-like deaths. Though it’s (blessedly) not explained, this ritual of spraying their teeth silver is to truly be chrome when meeting their fallen warriors.
15. Car culture. You’ll be sitting on 2,000 horsepower machine when you buy a ticket to this momentum driven movie. War Boys are post-apocalyptic gearheads who dream of chrome and high-octane thrills behind the wheel. Their prayer? “By the gods, I worship Him, V8.” The guys in this film make the cast of FURIOUS 7 look like a bunch of go-cart racers. It also seems Miller is giving a shout-out to fellow Aussie director Peter Weir with a few of the cars inspired by THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS.
14. Yellow and blue color theory. Let’s face it. Even if this was a full Technicolor extravaganza, it would still make our eyeballs explode. While red of blood and green of crops do pop, Miller and cinematographer John Seale primarily stick with a yellow and blue color palette. From Nux’s wrecked navy blue car buried in the orange sands, to Hardy’s piercing blue eyes against a yellow-orange background, to the warm yellow glow of the lantern in the backseat of the big rig against the enveloping blue night cast over all else, fans of this color theory will be giddy.
13. Furiosa’s gear grease war paint. Badass.
12. Immortal Joe’s breathing apparatus. It’s a menacing oxygen mask that one-ups Bane’s DARK KNIGHT face hardware. Joe’s turns into a breathing apparatus hoodie that’s sure to be a covetable at Hot Topics near you.
11. Rosie Hungtington-Whiteley’s hundred-yard model stare. Guys, I think she smizes.
10. The chastity belts on “The Dag” (Abbey Lee) and “Cheedo the Fragile” (Courtney Easton). Ain’t nobody messing around with Immortal Joe’s assets.
9. The nipple-clipped war monger boss with fat feet from Gastown, The People Eater (John Howard). It’s a blink-and-you-might-miss-it moment in the third act. Instead of twirling a moustache, he tweaks his nip clips.
8. Crazy character names. People who are naming babies: please take note. This world needs more Furiosa’s, Slit’s, Nux’s and Rictus Erectus’. For humanity sake.
7. Tom Hardy’s perfectly un-chapped lips. #NuffSaid
6. Nicholas Hoult’s chapped lips. They are probably branded that way versus being chapped but you get it.
5. Equality between the sexes. Which, as most of us know, is the real definition of feminism. Furiosa is Max’s equal in every way. They can both kick ass and outsmart their enemies. She saves the day just as many times as he does. Also both have put up walls in order to survive the harsh times.
4.The fact that not everything has to be explained. Screenwriters! Take note. Not every prop, act or character back story has to be verbally beat a dead horse. Here, scripters Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris allow for things to be shown minus overly verbose clarification.
3. Themes and symbolism. Maybe it won’t hit audiences until their second viewing, but Miller’s real-life parallels to today’s society are absolutely terrifying. Water, gasoline and bullets are the currency of this cinematic world. All three leaders of the cities represent our current zeitgeist figureheads; there’s the corporate fat cat banker (The People Eater), a war lord with a bullet for a tooth crown who literally goes blindly into war, guns ablaze (The Bullet Farmer, Richard Carter) and a controlling dictator (Immortan Joe). Not only that, but resources like land, livestock and crops are being depleted. Droughts and climate control are a very real thing. This could be our future dystopia, or rather, it’s our current one.
2. Multi-layered narrative. On the surface, the film’s story is rather simple. But it actually runs deeper than this. Furiosa, Nux and Max are all on a redemptive journey. “The breeders” are rebelling against being commodities.
1. Because you love ballsy, bombastic, bloody brilliant bad-assery on a widescreen scale. And if you don’t vote with your dollars to make this wholly original adventure a hit, Hollywood won’t take chances on filmmaking as bold as this.
What would it be like to spend a day in George Miller’s head?
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is available tomorrow on DVD/ Blu-ray. Order here.