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Mad Max: Fury Road

I haven't seen any of the other Mad Max movies, and I probably wouldn't have seen this one (long road-chase films are really not my thing) except for (A) Charlize Theron looked completely badass in the trailer and (B) the opposition of the MRA folks made it seem like it would have feminist content. Which it definitely did (at least to an extent), and overall I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Spoilers behind the cut.

Things I really liked:

(1) The worldbuilding. Like I said, I haven't seen any of the other films, so I don't know if they also have the best character names in existence (Toast the Knowing! The Splendid Angharad! Capable! Rictus Erectus! The Vulvani!), or really fascinating warrior death cults, or unbelievable live musical accompaniment to their battles (accompanied by flame-throwing guitars, which has to be the coolest thing I have ever seen), or the trippiest, wildest vehicles in existence, but I loved all of it--especially the fact that tons of it is just there and not explained, leaving tons and tons of interpretive potential.

(2) The visuals. OMG, I had no idea going in how gorgeous a post-apocalyptic landscape could be. That dust storm is one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen on film, as was the blue light as they're driving into the swamp.

(3) The characters. Considering how little actual dialogue there is in the film, I grew remarkably attached to them--I was so sad that most of the Vulvani died in the battle (though considering we had the least time to get attached to them I wasn't surprised), and also was surprisingly affected both by the death of The Splendid Angharad and Nux the warboy. But wow, Furiosa was just completely amazing, and I want ALL the fannish backstory for her: why was she seeking redemption? (Looking at the society created by Immortan Joe, it's easy to imagine some of what she had to do, but I want fic!) Why did she choose those particular women to rescue? Did she have relationships with them? What was her experience of growing up in the Vulvani like? OMG, I hope this film develops enough of a fandom that there is fic.

(4) The Vulvani: All-woman motorcycle gang that is a remnant of an all-woman (or at least female dominated) agrarian paradise in a post-apocalyptic world? OMG, SO amazing. And even though they didn't get a lot of screentime, what we saw of them was AWESOME. For them I want not just all the fic but all the vids.

(5) Nux, who had the best actual character arc in the film, and managed to make us feel sorry for someone who had treated the main character of the film as a living bloodbag and who had lived only for acknowledgment from the evil cult leader.

Things I had mixed feelings about but felt fit in with the overall tone of the film:

(1) Max's PTSD (or flashbacks, or whatever). Maybe I would have appreciated them more had I seen the other films? I mean, yes, they conveyed how internally fucked up he was, but otherwise I couldn't decide if they were supposed to be connected to external events in the film (like warnings?) or were just signs of his mental instability.

(2) All the body horror stuff. On the one hand, sort of appropriate to the post-apocalyptic setting. On the other hand, disturbing that basically it was just the bad guys who were disabled or physically different. (Furiosa started off aligned with them, so that counts). I guess that really in that society you'd only survive disability IF you were high status, but I still found that a little disturbing.

(3) The ending. I did like Max's argument, and that they decide to reclaim the town; I just feel like the actual reclaiming needed to be a whole movie in and of itself, because a giant cult is not likely to give in to you just because you've killed their leader--remember Nux thought he was going to Valhalla just because Immortan Joe looked him in the eye! I mean, possibly if they had all witnessed Furiosa killing him in single combat or something I can see them giving her leadership, since it's such a warrior-driven society, but simply killing him? I'd expect backlash, not capitulation. [But on the other hand I can see why they wanted a simpler happy ending].

Things I disliked or found annoying:
(1) I wanted all the women Furiosa was rescuing to get a little more individual character development. They did, mostly, go from victims to agents throughout the course of the film, but I still had a hard time telling several of them apart. Also, I honestly think in a post-apocalyptic setting, more well-fed women would be more likely to actually be fertile, so I found their model-like appearances actually challenged my suspension of disbelief.

(2) And speaking of well-fed: what the hell was everyone eating to survive? I mean, the implication was that only the cult members were eating the garden produce, and there was no water to grow anything elsewhere--you can't feed a whole population on mother's milk (especially since those women would require a ton of food).

Oh, and in a setting where water is such a scarce commodity, there's no WAY those women would have been casually hosing themselves off as they fled (especially since presumably they had a very limited water supply with them in the truck). And no one was eating (and they did very little drinking) during the whole road trip, but Max, who'd been used as a literal blood bag the day before, could still donate enough blood to save Furiosa's life? Really? Really? I mean, I do like the symbolism of it, but I just have a hard time believing either of them came out of that alive.

Overall, though, I liked it. It was actually much less gory (and much less body-horrorish) than I was expecting based on the reviews I had read, and I was also surprisingly un-bored with the endless car-chase scenes. It's still not really my kind of movie, but I'm glad to have seen it.

This entry is crossposted at http://norwich36.dreamwidth.org/274424.html, but feel free to reply at either place.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 17th, 2015 07:48 pm (UTC)
Oh wow--this sounds like a total re-imagining of the Mad Max world. You're not missing anything from the first films because it doesn't seem like they have a thing to do with this new film. Sounds interesting though. :)
May. 17th, 2015 08:24 pm (UTC)
It is really interesting! I have often wanted to watch the third Mad Max just for Tina Turner--maybe I'll finally get around to doing that.
May. 24th, 2015 02:29 am (UTC)
What I really like about it is it's pure action. There are no witty one-liners .
May. 24th, 2015 03:40 am (UTC)
Well, that's certainly true--there's barely any dialogue in the whole film.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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Nora Norwich

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