I'll be honest, when I first heard about Mad Max: Fury Road I was quite indifferent. I mean, I didn't watch the original movies, I had very minimal knowledge about the actual Mad Max universe, and while the previews looked cool and it had Charlize Theron involved, it just wasn't something I was interested in seeing, at least in theaters anyway. And then, of course, came all the positive and praising reviews from it, including the hilarious backlash that backfired from butthurt men, which got me to rethink my position. So I went to see it yesterday.
And IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME.
I don't say that lightly, either. I'm usually someone who gets apprehensive whenever something is hyped up because it all seems it might be an exaggeration and setting up for me to have high hopes only to be disappointed. But this is one instance where you truly have to take the overabundance of praise to heart, because once you leave the theater you'll be dazed in a holy shit that was an overwhelming amount of awesome.
First off, the world-building was phenomenal. One of the things I appreciated was how there was minimal dialogue and everything else was reliant on the setting. Very few films go for the "show, don't tell" approach when introducing their world to the audience, everything is almost given easy explanations about what is happening and the character motivations, whereas with Fury Road it relies purely on visual storytelling. There is no exposition, no need for grand speeches or monologues. Everything you need speaks through the actions of characters with no dialogue, through the world that you're thrust into, the setting, everything. Also, the film doesn't treat the audience as stupid, it knows that people are smart enough to understand what's going on and it's all there is one massive visual stimulation. Characters don't need huge chunks of dialogue to say what needs to be said, case in point the silent communication between Max and Furiosa was all you needed to know about their growing companionship and trust, same with the girls and their moments of triumph, especially the moment where Splendid defends Furiosa in her most powerful defining moment in the film. Actions spoke louder than words in this film, and the visuals told the story better than any exposition ever could, and it was glorious.
And I was really overwhelmed by it, I'm not gonna lie. There is so much to take in that I honestly need to see it at least a few more times in order to absorb and digest everything that was happening in the background.
The characters were full-fledged three-dimensional individuals with personalities and their own developments, no matter how small they seemed. Max was a worn and damaged man with PTSD, Furiosa was a woman who was trying to survive and give hope into the broken world, both of them had their demons are fighting for a chance at redemption in their own ways. The way their friendship formed in the film was amazing, since it started off with them fighting brutally and Max not giving a damn, to them having each other's backs. The young women also have amazing moments, as well, each of them demonstrating their strength and resilience in different ways. For example, the moment where Splendid hangs out of the War Rig to protect Furiosa from Immortan Joe, and all the girls just basically glare at him. No words, no spats, nothing. Just simply take a brave and fearless stance at glaring at their rapist and oppressor. Each girl has their own crowning moment of awesome, and each one of them shows their own individual personality. Even the Vuvalini's, who basically are an older women biker gang who are merely the last of the surviving clan, show us that they are both kindly and ruthless, both nurturing and brutal. It's nice seeing more elderly women showing that they are amazing and badass on the big screen, and who take no shits from anyone.
So yes, this film did the women characters right, for which I am absolutely thankful for. It's such a wonderful thing to see a film not go for the usual tropes when dealing with women especially in an action movie, where such treatment and roles are a rarity. And women were basically the main focus of this film, all of them having a story and being proactive in one way or another. It was remarkable.
As for the themes of the story, I'm really astounded and impressed by the themes and messages presented within the film. I had to mull it over hours after I saw it, but the more I thought about it the more I was stunned at the metaphors. Obviously the themes of survival, hope and redemption are constant throughout, particularly interconnecting different characters and their motivations. But another thing I found interesting was tying into the ecological collapse and moral decadence was the underlining aspect of a patriarchal domain, which was the cause of the destruction of the world. "Who killed the world?" Men. Men killed the world with their greed, their obsession with power and control. And it was up to the women, who were merely seen as breeders and treated like things, to rise up and not only escape their oppressors but also destroy and dismantle the patriarchy in order to rebuild the world.
Another thing that surprised me was Nux's character development in the film, because while at first we think "oh, he's another one of those antagonist crazies I hope it bites it soon", his character underwent some interesting growth and did an unexpected complete 180 in regards to his own humanity. His character is a reminder that young men can also be victims and are hurt by the patriarchy, as well. Since he, like all the other men amongst the Citadel, were brainwashed with this notion that they will die honorable deaths and go to Valhalla by doing particular deeds to prove themselves worthy, and he was trying so hard to impress Immortan Joe -- only to miserably fail (several times) and see the harsh truth. Joe doesn't care about him, or any of the War Boys he has breeding at the Citadel; he only sees them all as expendable soldiers. That's it. When he realizes this, he takes refuge inside the War Rig, and is given solace and hope by Capable. Basically, men who realize that the patriarchy is more harmful than good, will then change themselves.
(And honestly, his death saddened me so much. He went through a great deal of development and I wanted him to survive so he and Capable could be adorable together. But really, I guess it was foreshadowing from his first. He was going to die, but his purpose for dying changed completely. It wasn't for some meaningless macho victory but a sacrifice for a hopeful, better world.)
In a lot of ways, yes, this film has plenty of feminist themes and messages throughout. Even though I knew this previously due to all the positive reviews it had been getting and how everyone was raving about it, it still surprised me at the level of how much. Furiosa is basically the Ripley of the new generation, and I loved how Max didn't overshadow her nor was he overshadowed in return. While it was basically Furiosa's story, they both worked well as a team and I loved the camaraderie of everyone involved.
** Reading up on the additional character stuff is amazing, because even though there wasn't much time to really get into some of the background stuff I loved that there was still so much information for the actors to really go off of in order to play their characters a certain way. Like, for instance, Charlize mentioning that Furiosa was infertile, how Splendid was uncertain how to feel about carrying the baby she was, or how she basically was like the older sister towards the other girls, etc.
** Almost everyone did their own stunts, including the middle-aged and elderly women.
** Pretty much 90%-95% of the film used practical effects. All those explosions? Real. All the acrobatic stunts on the different cars and rigs? Real. The guitar shooting out flames? Functional and real. All the locations and sets? Real. Just, goddamn.
** Despite what the trailers make you think, this film isn't a gorefest. While it is quite intense and violent, it surprisingly has very little gore. It doesn't take away the fact that the world they live in is horrible, but we never see anything completely graphic. Aside from a few moments, most things are implied or the action is happening so fast you miss it.
** THE SOUNDTRACK WAS EPIC. THE CINEMATOGRAPHY AND USE OF LIGHTING (especially the night scenes) WERE AESTHETICALLY GORGEOUS. THE GUITAR GUY POWERING THAT ONE RIG WAS THE BEST HILARIOUS AND BOSS CHARACTERS. THE FIGHTING CHOREOGRAPHY WAS BRUTAL AND INTENSE AS FUCK. THE ENTIRE WORLD SETUP WAS REMARKABLE AND IMAGINATIVE AS FUCK. AND JUST. EVERYTHING. ABOUT. THIS. MOVIE. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ ♥ ♥ ♥
** And sidenote: the director, George Miller, also directed Babe, Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet. He is also a feminist and consulted with many women during making this film in order to make it right.
Overall: The is, by far, the film of the year for me. I don't care about anything else but this film. I have been thinking about it ever since yesterday. It is imaginative, it is refreshing, it is deliciously over-the-top and ridiculous which is part of that world's charm in a sense, it brings so many amazing women into the fold and it handles the concept of rape and sex slavery without being gross and exploitative. It is a beautiful film with extraordinary acting, an endless action sequence that just is unique and never gets tiring or boring, and it is quite an emotional rollarcoaster in certain places. Like, I cannot explain how much I love how the story unfolds, and the ending is quite satisfying.
TL;DR, the hype is real, this is an amazing film and I highly recommend it.
I may talk more about this film later on, because I know I didn't talk about other things and since I'm going to be seeing it again there will surely be more things I want to discuss and basically fangirl about. All in all, I never thought I would be gushing over something like a Mad Max film, but here I am. (◕‿◕✿)