Thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road

I was going to finally writing up my Gotham season review, but then I got caught up. Every time I sat down to type it up all I could think of was Mad Max: Fury Road. I went to see Mad Max on Sunday. I had been interested since I first heard about the movie. It wasn’t one of my must see movies of the year. You see, I saw Mad Max when I was 20. It wasn’t all that long ago, just a few years, but I didn’t remember much of the movie. My main take away was that the world had turned into a desert shit storm after what I presume was a nuclear holocaust. Max was one of the survivors, but in the world that had turned to shit the people who now inhabited it had gone rogue. These dangerous people killed his wife and his daughter. Yes, I remember it being a daughter although some very stealthy research tells me it was actually a son. Oops. Anyway, Max was pissed and wanted vengeance. Hence the name, Mad Max. I really don’t remember much else of the movie and I never saw the sequels. Still, I was curious about Mad Max: Fury Road. It all depended on the word of mouth.

Mad Max: Fury RoadTurns out Mad Max: Fury Road was one hell of a movie. It was a feminist fuck yeah. It was action packed. It was great. The rotten tomatoes score was 99% from critics (514 reviews) at the point in time when I decided I would go watch it. (Currently it has only dropped to 98%). With such great buzz, I had to. But I waited until real late and couldn’t get good tickets until Sunday morning. Whatever. I’ve now learned that a little bit of Fury Road is exactly what is necessary to liven up any Sunday morning. Screw brunch, from now on I want kickass movies like this.

I’m sorry, this is not supposed to be a praise machine for Mad Max. No, this is supposed to be me finally explaining why I can’t seem to write anything than a piece about this.

Mad Max: Fury is the kind of movie that makes you re-evaluate why there aren’t more movies like this. Why more movies aren’t so excellent at story telling that it can elicit so many emotions while still cramming it full action, a form of narrative that many people look down upon. No Fury Road kicked major ass. It drew you in, it made you care. The characters felt unique. Honestly, I was more caught up with how effective this movie is at showing not telling.

Mad Max: Fury RoadFor those of you who know I write, you may know that there are a lot of people out there who espouse the rule: Show, Don’t tell. It pretty much means that when you have the opportunity to show your audience what you are talking about, you should do that rather than just telling it. It gets people away from just explaining away what they mean and really illustrating it. While I believe in this rule, it also has a time and a place. There are times when you really do need to tell something. Sometimes it just makes so much more sense if it is explicitly told. This tends to come into play with something that may be more complex. Showing something that functions on more than just an outer and interior level, but may have other things at work does not work as well if it is just shown. You may be missing very important things. If something is more straight forward with only the two layers mentioned, they can still be complex, but you aren’t potentially missing a whole lot more that may be equally important.

Saying this, I’m not implying that Mad Max is simple. It isn’t. Yet, at the same time it is. I’m not going to give away the plot, because it was so beautifully done that it would be a total shame if I spoiled it for you, but I will say that Mad Max was able to show the story without telling. Film is a visual medium, but it is also a medium that frequently uses dialogue as a crutch. Too much exposition. Too much chatter. Too much telling us what we should be seeing. Mad Max does away with that. The Mad Max world had never been huge on words. With the striking world that George Miller created it’s easy to see why one would rather just let you experience the world, rather than muck it up by telling you how to feel. Fury Road was no different. Dialogue was kept to a minimum really only having characters speak when it was important and time efficient to convey it in such a way. You got swept into this world and not once was it ever confusing where it was going. We are shown wastelands. We are shown war boys. We are shown rituals, hope, and attacks. Often it is the silence and the things that are unspoken that had the biggest effect on me as a viewer. (I’m looking at you, that random romantic side plot that I did not see coming).

Really, what I’m trying to say is that while there may be people who are talking about how great Mad Max: Fury Road is because it elevates it’s female characters by having them be diverse and realistic, I want to draw attention to how great George Miller was at telling a cohesive deep story that didn’t rely on dialogue, that didn’t rely on just conveying small character moments. He did a beautiful job at making a story feel complete and meaningful on both a large scale and a small scale. This movie was fantastic and it’s something that I would feel comfortable recommending to pretty much any adult with an open mind.

Mad Max: Fury RoadBefore I go, I have to note just how much I enjoyed Nicholas Hoult as Nux. Initially his appearance as a war boy was one of the strikes against seeing the movie. I was struggling with how they could have warped one of my favorite, and most attractive actors into this almost unrecognizable thing. It worked for the movie and Nux was really a highlight. His grandeur and posturing was brilliant. His exuberance verve to please was intoxicating. Honestly, his transformation throughout the movie was one of the most heartbreaking and meaningful. His character add this additional layer that gave us a humanizing factor into some of the crazy that we saw. It’s hard not to fall or at least feel for his character as things progress. It doesn’t hurt that Nicholas Hoult was positively great in this role as he brought the character to life, when it could have turned out flat.

If you saw Mad Max: Fury Road what did you think of it? If not, do you plan on it?

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