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:Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Mad Max FR 1

Mad Max: Fury Road
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Director: George Miller
Musical Score: Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg)
Rated R

Review by Jaymie Burzette and Yvette Arambula

The latest Mad Max offering has swept the box office by storm and has drawn the attention of the world. Not bad for a franchise that hasn’t seen a release since the 80’s. With a fresh, new cast to continue the saga which takes place a few years after Beyond Thunderdome, we are off on a high-octane adventure that’ll make your teeth feel gritty with wasteland sand. A notable returning cast member is Hugh Keays-Byrne as the masked, villainous badass Immortan Joe, who previously played Toecutter in the first installment of the original Mad Max films.

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The story follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and Nux (Nicholas Hoult) as they help Immortan Joe’s breeders escape during a routine gas procuring mission. They are hidden in the War Rig Furiosa is driving to Gas Town before she veers off the path and speeds off towards her childhood homeland, The Green Place, where she believes they will find a better life. The War Boys make Joe aware of this and his fears are confirmed when he finds his chambers empty. Joe rallies his War Boys and launches off after them full speed. Epic battles with outrageously armored vehicles ensue.

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Unfortunately, upon finding her tribe, the Vuvalini’s, Furiosa is told that they had actually already driven past her homeland which is now uninhabitable. With no other choice other than to get lost further in the seemingly endless desert, Max advises that they go back to The Citadel which is unprotected. We are blasted with more epic road madness until they are able to kill Immortan Joe and his forces with the ultimate sacrifice by Nux as he crashes the War Rig in a canyon to block the baddies from following them any further to the Citadel. Upon arrival, they present Joe’s corpse to the people, who cheer and seemingly make Furiosa their new leader.

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The movie jumps right into the action and is virtually non-stop from start to end. Movies aren’t as they used to be, with today’s audience used to being slapped in the eyeballs with non-stop action, violence and huge explosions, most of which come in the form of PG-13 superhero movies (which I often enjoy, don’t get me wrong). But it’s quite refreshing to get an action-packed, ultra-violent, over-the-top R-rated feature, along with other types of excited hyphenated adjectives. The Mad Max franchise was deftly adapted for today’s audiences, and I believe it delivered everything its exhilarating trailer promised it to be. The word fuel-injected comes to mind, with its overcharged, highly-frenetic feel.

Allow me a moment to talk about the visual aspects of this film. Slick yet primitive, smooth yet gritty, with appropriately placed accelerated filming that helped to convey urgency and desperation, a seething need to accomplish a task. Techniques such as “eye trance” and “crosshair-framing” were used during shooting in order to isolate key visual information amidst the chaos, making all the action more comprehensible and easier to follow.

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One of the best parts is the Doof Wagon that leads the cavalcade of Immortan Joe’s forces. The Doof Warrior, played by Australian artist/musician iOTA (Sean Hape), is strapped atop a rig in front of a massive wall of speakers with a double-necked guitar that spews flames, chugging away some killer riffs to keep the War Boys frenzied and ready for battle. In an interview conducted during production, iOTA stated that the guitar weighed about 132 pounds and actually shot out real gas-powered flames that he controlled with the whammy bar.

This film was absolutely gorgeous. Vibrant, saturated colors with high-resolution images (but what can you expect when Peter Jackson is the visual effects supervisor). The truly remarkable aspect of this movie is that there’s very little CGI in the film. A majority of the effects were practical effects with lines and wires removed during editing. Personally, I’m a huge practical effects person and I’m really glad to see more of them being used these days. The stunt work is great, and they find a way to keep a long drive down a desert road interesting.

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I think this movie really hit spot-on. It managed to capture the essence of the previous films and updated it to make it more palatable for modern audiences. Advanced filming techniques, with high-resolution and bright, sharp colors really pull this movie into modern cinema. The action sucked you in immediately and kept you riveted to your seats, waiting for each gorgeous scene to unfold.

One thing that was extra special about this premiere is that the Santee Drive-In Theatre, which we go to pretty frequently, was having a special two-day San Diego Max Run wasteland event to go along with it. Day one, people were decked out in their finest, albeit grimiest, post-apocalyptic gear with road rigs to match for movie watching. Day two was a post-apoc themed rally ride and vehicle cruise through East County San Diego, our very own wasteland east of paradise. We saw a lot of familiar faces from the local rivet head scene there, as well, which makes this review even more appropriate as we break new ground on what we feature here at COMA Music Magazine.

(Below is a war bug Yvette Arambula managed to take a picture of while we were waiting in line for the movie.)

Mad Max road rig – Edited

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