For Fury Road, think of Mad Max and Beyond Thunderdome but do not carry the early franchise with you. This is not a sequel, or a prequel, or a remake. It is another possibility, an alternate with all the flavor and the volume dial set to 11.
The plot, like many action movies, is simple. Escape from the oppressive regime and seek a green place, a promised land where freedom reigns. However, a movie or novel or orally told story is more than the plot alone. The telling is as much story as the story. I will discuss this concept in some closing notes, but as for the straight review, know that Fury Road certainly hits that storytelling mark well.
I heard some early talk about the female leads in this rendition of Mad Max. Seems our testosterone pumped world cannot handle some strong estrogen. I say bollocks and ovaries. I applaud the strong female characters in this vision. Two thumbs up to writer / director George Miller for taking this tact. Also, give him two more thumbs for making us examine the basic concept of physical strength and perfection, or lack thereof. This theme was touched in Thunderdome, but it has been taken to an entirely new level on the Fury Road.
The action is non-stop and compelling. All the actors do excellent work. The characterizations are in the extreme, which may make the acting a little easier. Nonetheless, everyone keeps their roles believable – no one goes over the top, which would be easy with such outlandish personality types and make-up. I might have one exception to these kudos, but one character out of a cast of many, why quibble. Besides, the one I speak of is more writer/director choice than actor depiction.
Speaking of the make-up, the make-up, costume, and machinery work is marvelous and inventive. The cinematography and editing is right on point. The score, with music by Junkie XL, fits the hyper-action, though I would give most of the credit to Elaine Beckett, the score coordinator. The sound effects, special effects, and stunts are also first rate. Once the ride starts, you won’t be jarred by anything. Everyone does their job.
Well worth the ticket. You can avoid the glasses if you really have to save a few bucks – you won’t miss much.
After note #1:
Again, kudos to AMC Theaters at Dutch Square. Apparently, my last movie review and comment got around to them. Their manager considered it a good teaching moment. I was recognized when I went today – I usually am, but just as one of their regulars. However, today it was a little different, and I was given a Fury Road movie poster. Seems a shameless plug can be worth something, so – shameless plug.
After note #2:
A friend commented that they do not read my reviews, fearing spoilers…
When I was in junior high school, I’m lookin’ back behind us now, into history back. And you got to listen it and ‘member. Those that had the knowin’ had us do book reports. Books didn’t use sonic or vi-vi-videooo. We had to read them page by page. We were taught that a report, a review, was not tellin’ of the tale. It was a tale of the tellin’.
My little homage there brings up two points. First is spoilers. If you’ve read my reviews, you will note that I try hard to avoid spoilers. Sometimes it is tricky, especially if I want to dispute a conclusion. However, I clearly mark them.
Second point is what a movie review should be, which speaks to what a movie is. A movie is a way of telling a tale. Frankly, the plot to a movie can be very simple and boiled down to a few sentences. There should be nothing odd in this thought. A thousand years ago, as the hunter stood over the carcass of his prey, he spent the evening recounting the tale of his victory, which could be boiled down to, “I went out and killed this gazelle. Everyone eat up.” The plot isn’t the point. They all knew the end. It was how the story was told, and that holds true to this day.
For some movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, or Avengers: Age of Ultron, the plot can be distilled to a short sentence. What matters is how the movie is made, how it tells the story. That is the thrust of most of my reviews. I do not summarize the plot but categorize the telling, examine and review how the movie was crafted. A weak plot can be a great movie if you do the craftwork well. A great plot can be a horrible movie if you do not pay attention to the movie magic. Likewise, a poorly done review will retell the plot, spoiling all along the way while completely ignoring the craftwork. A great review should almost ignore the plot and focus on how the tale is told.