One of the movies I was most looking forward to this year was Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was a decent movie. A solid B. A better film than the first one, but less entertaining.
The other big summer blockbuster I was looking forward to was Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s odd, because I have never seen the original movies (despite growing up in the 1980s), and it didn’t seem like one of those sorts of films that I’d be at all interested in. Then I saw the trailer.
After seeing that, I thought, “This looks likely to be stupid as fuck, but entertaining as hell,” and I made plans to see it at some point.
Then, on Friday, it was released, and the reviews began to come in. Four stars on Roger Ebert’s website (out of four). A great review on Slate. 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s an insanely high-level rating. By contrast, Birdman, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2014 has “only” a 93% rating. For a “genre” film to get that kind of high rating is almost without precedent.
And so I went to see it yesterday (and yes, that was partly to annoy certain men’s rights assholes out there), and I was impressed. So very impressed. It’s entertaining as hell, yes, but also, surprisingly, very intelligent, has a good, strong plot, interesting characters, and strong messages about gender and religion.
The story concerns Max who, at the beginning of the film, is captured by the bad guys (lead by a religious leader who controls all the local water supply), who plan to use him as a mobile blood bank. He’s glomed-onto by a “warboy”, one of the religiously-minded soldiers his captor keeps around, who attaches himself to Max’s blood supply. This get interesting when a woman named Furiosa (love it), steals a large semi that’s been outfitted as a battle platform. Inside? Several women who are basically the cult leader’s sex slaves. Their goal is to make it to an idyllic “green place”. The warboy goes in chase, dragging along Max (and everyone else, including a mobile heavy metal rock platform), and the movie kicks into high gear.
I really cannot overstate how much I liked this movie. It’s easily the best movie this year, and one of the best new movies I’ve seen in quite sometime. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron turn in the best performances of their careers (which in her case especially is really saying something), and Nicholas Hoult still manages to somehow bring the sexy, despite being covered with way too many scars and what is possibly the worst case of chapped lips in all of human history.
The pacing is excellent, despite being basically nothing but a giant chase for most of the film. Also, unlike many films of this type, the action is very well-executed, excellently filmed and easy to follow. At no point does one experience a real sense of spatial disorentation, as can happen with even a lot of the best films (I’m looking at you, The Dark Knight
If you’re looking for an enjoyable, escapist film that you can have a great time watching while eating popcorn, this is that movie. But, surprisingly, if you want an intelligent, interesting film that’s also great popcorn entertainment, well…this movie is that, too. An astounding feat.
One last note; the 3D is well done, but not really required. If you see it in 2D, you’l be fine.