There were times in my life when I would plan days in advance to order a pizza. Not just any pizza, but Giordano’s stuffed spinach deep dish. On Sunday I would plan out my meals for the week, and I’d make a note to order that $30, extra large pizza all for myself on Thursday, and I’d wait all week knowing that on Thursday, I’d be biting into that delicious wad of melted cheese. And when Thursday finally rolled around, and I picked up that pizza from the restaurant, and almost ritualistically cut it and sat down with two slices on my plate; that first bite was almost dizzying. It was a high expectation living up to a reality. Nothing about it let me down. That’s where Mad Max: Fury Road comes in. I haven’t been so hyped up for a movie in a while, and when it ended up being everything I hoped for, it became worth the agonizing wait.
Ya know, I’m sorry I wasted your time with that pizza metaphor. I probably should have just started with the sentence “I haven’t been so hyped up for a movie…”. I always have to attempt to make dumb comparisons to food. That’s a crappily accurate expectation you should probably have for my reviews by now. So at least I didn’t let you down in that regard.
Anyway, Fury Road tells the continuing story of Max Rockatansky (now Tom Hardy, formerly Mel Gibson), as he travels the awful dystopian wasteland of a future I don’t think I’d survive in. They don’t even have HBO in this future. It sucks. Also, everyone is dehydrated and their bones are deteriorating. I don’t really want to give anything away, because everyone should be required to watch this movie at some point, but he basically runs into a lady named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) during the first 10 minutes of a two hour long chase scene, initiated by a crazed warlord named Immortan Joe (played by the same guy who played Toecutter in the original Mad Max). Pretty much everyone in this movie has an awesome character name, and they don’t even mention 80% of them out loud.
One of the strongest aspects of the story is the almost ballsy, matter-of-fact way that it doesn’t bother to explain anything. From the weird swamp people on stilts to the metallic spray paint the warriors shoot in their mouths before doing something suicidal; the movie leaves it to the audience to figure it out for themselves, or be weirded out completely, or both. Why are they spitting fluid into the pipes of their cars? To make it go faster, dummy! Why is there a blind freak suspended by wires playing a flamethrower guitar on a giant amplifier monster truck? I feel like if you have to ask that, you’re not enjoying life enough.
This movie offers itself to be as weird as possible, while simultaneously not doing anything that makes me go “Why is this happening?”. It’s about as accessible as a $150 million exploding car chase nightmare can be. It’s an overhyped, expensive summer blockbuster that somehow managed to keep the spirit of a trashy grindhouse movie, and guess what? Pretty much everyone likes it. This bodes well for the future.
I think there was only maybe 45 seconds of the characters actually talking about why they wanted to go somewhere, and what was actually there. Other than that, the movie just used insane visuals and unexplained behavior to push the narrative and do some truly spectacular world building. You’ll learn less about the universe of this film from exposition than you will from watching a guy fill his car with flammable liquid and try to light himself on fire while screaming “VALHALLA!”. This movie is all about the explosition. See what I did there? Yeah, I’ll pat myself on the back for that one.
It probably helps that this movie is a consistent showcase of amazing stunt work and cinematography that gets burned into your retinas for days after seeing it. I mean, I know that there’s some CGI in it. I’m aware they didn’t actually drive through a desert lighting tornado. But all of the (clearly real) guys jumping onto fast moving cars while dangling from weighted flagpoles with things exploding pretty much every ten seconds truly makes the Universal Studios’ Adventures of Sindbad stunt show look like a pile of shit. Take THAT, Adventures of Sindbad! Your off-brand, copyright-safe insertion of a “d” into the middle of Sinbad has always irked me!
I want to give a compliment to the editors as well, for taking a film that director George Miller apparently shot 450 hours of footage for, with 6,000 editing hours, and managed to make a series of action scenes that were cut super fast, but not at all illegible. How is it that The Hunger Games can’t hold a shot still to save its life, but the movie about a high speed war convoy of psychopathic mutants looked like it was shot with tripods? Also, they used dips to black to transition between major scenes. Dips to black are freakin awesome, in my opinion.
I wanted to wait to see it a second time before I wrote my review, because I was so overwhelmed with excitement the first time through that I wondered if I missed anything? So I saw it again last night, and I was able to focus on all the little details more, and it reassured me that this was a fucking great movie. It’s just exciting. I get excited to talk about it with people. I like that I have a movie that I’m excited to recommend to people.
Maybe it won’t exactly be your cup of tea, and you won’t praise it nearly as highly as I have (I think it’s an instant classic), but if you watch this movie and you don’t feel at least somewhat excited, then you’ve got some issues that I’m not sure I want to delve into. If you can’t find this exciting, I’m really not sure I even want to know what you actually think is exciting… Because it’s probably stupid.
Anyway, good luck, rest of the movies this year; you’ve got a pretty crazy standard to try to beat. I’m sure Jurassic World and Terminator Gennyssyyss (sp?) won’t live up to what they could have been, so, the ball is in your court, Star Wars.
ALL HAIL THE HOLY V8! [sprays mouth with chrome spray paint] [jumps off my 2005 Hyundai War Sonata face first onto a Giordano’s delivery car covered in 2000 spikes]
9.5 out of 10