What A Lovely Movie

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Title: Mad Max Fury Road

Rating: 5 Stars

I’ve now seen Fury Road, I think, three times in theaters. I saw it in IMAX 3D when it first came out. I later saw it when it was re-released (probably Oscar season IIRC) at the Cinerama. I bought it for my ex and I’m pretty sure that I watched it at least once at home. I just now saw the Black and Chrome version of it at, again at the Cinerama.

This is without question my favorite movie of recent years, and it’s probably now crawled up into my all time top 5 movie list.

It just has so much going for it. It has amazing action. It’s a brilliant portrait of a dystopian post-apocalyptic world. It has a great message. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

First of all, take on the haters. It’s called Mad Max but clearly Max is a secondary character here. Max, nearly insane at his loss and his struggles to simply stay alive, is nearly non-verbal in this movie.

The true heroine here is Imperator Furiosa. For some reason, this infuriates the fan boys. Are they mad that it’s not Max? Well, the director / writer of all Mad Max movies is George Miller. I’d say that he’s pretty much entitled to take his vision where ever he wants it to go.

Are they mad because the heroine is female? Somehow that is not realistic or feasible? Is somehow making one action movie in which the heroine is female is making some feminist statement that threatens the entire foundation upon which our culture is built?

The fact is is that Furiosa is seriously bad ass. She’s a tough, relentless, brutal heroine bent upon saving the breeders from the clutches of Immortan Joe.

This takes me to the theme of the movie, which is another reason that some really hate it. From pretty much any point of view, this is a story of a group of women gathering together to overthrow a patriarchy. Granted, it’s a patriarchy built on lies and enforced shortages (ie water). It’s a patriarchy that, by this point, can only breed deformities as its progeny. It’s a patriarchy clearly on its last legs being kept upright only through brutality. It’s a patriarchy that needs to fall.

The women represent fertility and re-birth (literally women are pregnant and are the carriers of seeds to re-feed the world). They come back to overthrow the decrepit patriarchy and claim their place re-building the world. Their first act is to release water to alleviate the suffering and to spread a common resource to all (oh no, they’re socialist on top of everything else??).

I get that this is a pretty strong feminist message. Do keep in mind that this is one movie. There are plenty of other movies where a degenerate male ruler is overthrown, but usually it’s by another man fated to assume the ruler’s position (meet the new boss; same as the old boss). These movies are also destroying existing patriarchies. Is it somehow socially more acceptable that this is done by another man then by a group of women?

So, I guess my message is to grow up. Women can be strong. Women can be brave. Women can actually rise up and overthrow an oppressor. Women can rule. That truly is the way of the world and it’s about time that our art recognizes it and celebrates it.

OK, enough with the message. The fact is, what makes this movie insanely good, is even with that broad, deep message, it’s just a fucking good action movie. I’ve seen it at least four times, and the action still takes my breath away. There is some CGI in the movie, but the action scenes are nearly all real. The car stunts are amazing. The fighting scenes are brutal.

One thing true for all of the Mad Max movies is the absurdist imagination of a George Miller envisioned dystopian world. This continues to hold true for Fury Road. Miller’s vision of the future is a dark one with a few overlords, many slaves, boys trained to sacrifice themselves in war, a populace reduced to rags and begging, and, outside the Citadel, bands of roaming, violent gangs.

However, despite the bleakness, the message ultimately is one of hope and re-birth. Max chooses to not be a part of this re-birth, but with some sense of renewed hope there is a possibility that some of his personal demons will now allow him some peace.

I can write so much more about this movie (hello, climate change, anyone?). In my opinion, it is one of the most important, most entertaining movies I’ve seen, and the fact that it accomplished both of these is truly a hallmark of a great film.

 

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