(This op-ed on Mad Max: Fury Road was originally written and published via Twitlonger by Ace Nelson and re-published with permission. You can find Ace Nelson on Twitter and on Youtube.)
A lot of people have been giving their two-cents-worth on this movie. Not just established movie critics, but the general public at large. Apparently, the hype train was rolling pretty hard for this film and I wasn’t really aware of it. Mostly due to focusing on work, personal ventures, video gaming, and (of course) #GamerGate. So, needless to say, even though I had seen and loved the originalMad Max films, Fury Road didn’t really catch my attention. With that preface outta the way, let’s get to the meat and bones of this.
After noticing all the talk of this movie and its “feminist overtones,” or how it seems to “make MRA’s heads explode,” my first instinct was to simply avoid the movie until it hits Netflix, or something. I’ve gotten pretty sick and tired of all the identity politics bullshit. However, yesterday, my good friend and YouTube partner had invited me to go with him to see Fury Road. I figure that after the rough days I’ve dealt with at work, I could use a day at the movies.
Needless to say…Mad Max: Fury Road was amazing! This film, frankly, is a visual and auditory feast. The practical and special FX are, arguably, the best I’ve seen committed to film. Right up there with Pacific Rim, even! The musical score and sound design was decidedly atmospheric and very fitting. Note: This is before mentioning the majesty of Doof and his flamethrower electric guitar and speaker set-up that I would swear was plucked straight from the fevered daydreams of Daisuke Ishiwatari himself!
Speaking of said fevered daydreams, the world-building in the movie was top notch. This was a post-apocalyptic wasteland setting that managed to cram full-length novels worth of detail into the span of a two-hour run time.
Vast desert expanses? There’s a backstory to it. Water’s lacking! How do people survive and find nourishment? There’s a backstory to it. Religion and society in general? There’s a backstory to it.
Then there’s the acting. Tom Hardy certainly was a big guy…for you and everyone else in the theater. He did a great job as Max Rockatansky, bringing not only a great deal of understated pathos to the role but also a lot of unexpected humor. The decision to bring back Immortan Joe from the previous films as the main antagonist was pure genius. As per the usual with this franchise, even side characters like Knux (Nicholas Hoult) and Splendid (Rosie Huntington-Whitely) have engaging characterization.
Which brings me to Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. Oh lordy, Furiosa.
She was fantastic, no two-ways about it. From the moment you see her fire up the engines of the impossibly METAL War Rig, to her three way brawl with Max and Knux, Furiosa pretty much stole the show. While the movie certainly does spend its fair share of time focusing on the increasingly unstable male protagonist (why else does one call him MAD Max?), the narrative is quite capably carried by Furiosa and Ms. Theron knocks it outta the park. Now comes my greatest problem with this movie…the rancid misrepresentation in the film’s media campaign.
A good number of people I’ve seen discussing this on Twitter have decided against going to see Mad Max: Fury Road because the movie has been pushed in numerous widely-circulated media outlets with the same sort of stereotypical “feminist” theme that the most recent run of Marvel Comics’ Thor had been pandering to with the current lead protagonist. I then went on to look at some of the online reviews and even checking discussion of Fury Road on Facebook and saw more of the same.
The fact of the matter is really quite simple.
Fans of post-apocalypse storytelling should see Fury Road. Fans of Fire-and-Brimstone and heavy metal (figurative as well as literal) spectacle should go and see this film. I would recommend Fury Road on the basis that it is a damn good film by the metrics that should matter: concept, production, and execution.
This film didn’t languish in “development hell” for over a decade. It spent those 10 – 15 years marinating in the creative oceans of George Miller’s mind waiting for the right moment to explode onto the silver screen and carry all of us in attendance from our seats straight to the gates of Valhalla with a narrative that’s as much about Max’s fractured psyche and Furiosa’s battle for redemption as it is about the sundered world upon which the action takes place.
Identity politics and “feminism,” in particular, has absolutely zero purpose in the context of discussing Fury Road. To view this movie through such a lens, regardless of the involvement of Eve Ensler as a consultant, is a slap in the face to those that worked on the film’s production. It would irrevocably taint an otherwise stellar movie because most people with common sense would want to avoid the political bullshit when deciding to take a couple hours out of their lives to escape the everyday grind. For me, it almost did.
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