There and back again, a breeders tale.
When you boil all of the fireworks and prop-fetish out of the latest Mad Max film, Fury Road, you really have simplicity. The women are fed up with the men using them as chattel – literally, as seen in a human dairy farm made for the purposes of feeding the big-bad, Immorten Joe, and his mutant children, ‘mothers milk.’ The remaining, less tethered, women decide to leave, but then, given few options for emigration in a desert planet, decide to return. Vehicular mayhem of the likes never put up on screen in the history of cinema ensues. And there are consequences of upsetting the social order of things, mostly the crashing and burning of things, but a few lessons are learned along the way.
Mad Max, at least in the ever-increasing-in-budget sequels, has always been the iconic Ronin who wanders into town, tipping the scale of social order by his masculine independence. He is a symbol in a world of warlords and cowering, dirty plebian peasants.
In the rather muddled opening prologue seemingly run at 1.5x speed and laden with superfluous micro-flashbacks of the disappointed children who have taken root in Max’s subconscious, Max is captured by Immorten Joe’s ‘War Boys,’ stripped of his V8 Interceptor, and arrives at the Citadel to coincide with the younger women, those not tied to a milking apparatus, making their exodus. The gambit involves the outposts only female warrior, Charlize Theron here a hard-beaten alloy of Pris, Cherry Darling, Meredith Vickers, and Sarah Connor folded to steel and decorated in cosmetic axel-grease foundation. Imperator Furiosa has a plan to smuggle out the last of humanity’s corn-fed center-fold DNA to the mythical ‘green place,’ beyond the desert sandstorms under the guise of a regular gasoline and ammunition resupply run. Joe straps on his Vader-meets-Bane breathing apparatus and engages in pursuit. Max gets entangled.
Fury Road is essentially a remake of the (superior) template-setting 1981 sequel, The Road Warrior. It replaces gasoline with lady-flesh clad in fluttery white maternity wear, and aims to get way-the-fuck-beyond the Thunderdome. This is helped considerably by hundreds of millions of 21st century studio dollars. For George Miller nerds, there are enough callbacks to the original films (from actors to onscreen images) to fuel a good sized jerrycan. The wild practical stunts involving vehicles and men leaping from car to truck to monster-truck, or dangling from poles and any number of resulting slap-stick visual gags buried in a modern CGI spectacle reminded me more of the set-pieces in Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger than George Miller’s previous desert chases. Perhaps this seeded the desire for the film to be about how we watch these kind of movies. Maybe it is.
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