Mad Max: Fury Road

This isn’t like a typical review.  It’s more like a warning.

I got out of work early the other day.  I haven’t been to the movies in ages and I really like going to the movies.  So, I decided to go to the movies.  Tomorrowland just came out and was directed by Brad Bird, I really like Brad Bird, but the reviews were pretty bad and it stars George Clooney, so I decided to pass.  I’d like to see Avengers, but everyone I talked to said it was pretty meh, and I didn’t want to waste my first movie in ages on meh.  So, I decided on Mad Max: Fury Road.  The reviews have been glowing, but I really had no expectations going in.  I figured worst case scenario was a cool action flick and I could live with that.

Sadly, that was not the worst case scenario.  I hated this movie.  I almost walked out, but I’d paid $7.50 and $7.50 is too much money for me to leave early.  I wish I had left early.  So as a warning to anyone on the fence about seeing this movie, let me count the ways I hated Fury Road.  I would say spoilers ahead, but everything in the movie was so predictable and obvious, there is really nothing to spoil.

1. The movie treated me like an idiot.  I found the whole thing insulting.  There is very little dialogue, but what dialogue there is is entirely expository.  I’m reasonably smart.  You really don’t have to explain everything to me.  And, as a matter of fact, I’d rather you didn’t.  They even did it visually.  From the second the concubines are introduced, there are about a million shots of the blonde’s belly.  It would have been more subtle if the film had paused and the director walked out and said, “She’s going to die later, but I’m not going to bother to create a character.  So, please notice that she’s knocked up so it will seem tragic when she dies.”

2. The movie was boring.  This is usually my number one beef with artistic things I dislike.  It would have been number one, but the fact that it treated me like an idiot was worse.  The movie barely had a plot.  That plot was Furiosa (Charlize Theron) takes the Boss’ concubines West in an attempt to free them.  When they discover the West has been poisoned, they go back East and free everyone.  That makes it sound more interesting than it was.  I can just imagine the discussion on set:

“That’s a wrap!”

“But, sir, we only have ten minutes of footage.”

“How do we only have ten minutes?  We filmed the whole plot.  They drove West, fighting the whole way, then they drove back East, fighting the whole way.”

“Right, that’s only ten minutes worth of film.”

“OK.  We’ll add another fight scene.”

“Sir, that only gets us to 15 minutes.”

“OK.  Another fight scene.”

“20 minutes, Sir.”

“OK, 20 more fight scenes, as long as they all look alike.”

“That gets us to two hours.”

“Perfect!  This movie is done.”

3. It was difficult to sustain my willing suspension of disbelief.  They seemed relatively advanced in a lot of ways.  It’s not easy to drill down to an aquifer, create vertical farms, drill for oil, convert the oil to gasoline and build and maintain internal combustion engines and automatic weapons.  But, their preferred method of fighting was ramming each other with cars and using spears.  I also couldn’t help but wonder if all but one of the blood types disappeared somehow.  And the whole basis of this world is that resources are scarce, so let’s strap a wall of amplifiers to a car and have a guy playing guitar and bass (on a double necked instrument) with fire shooting out of the headstock.  At first I thought it might be some post-apocalyptic fife and drum equivalent, but then I realized that no one could possibly hear him.

4. This is tied to number two, but the visuals were lousy.  They made a big deal about using practical effects, but it felt like I was watching a video game.  Almost everything looked the same.  When Max said, “That’s my car,” my first thought was, “How can you tell?”  It also reminded me of old, cheaply made cartoons.  If you watch one of those, it is always obvious which door is going to open or which tree is going to fall because it is a slightly different color.  In the case of those cartoons, it was to cut costs.  They could recycle backgrounds and they didn’t worry if it didn’t match.  In the case of Mad Max, I think they did it on purpose.  Max was used as a human blood bag at the beginning of the movie (I’ll ignore how little sense this made).  When he freed himself, he carefully coiled the tube and put it on his shoulder so that it would be obvious in every shot.  It would have been more subtle and visually appealing to have a CNN style scroll on the bottom of the screen that said, “Furiosa will be wounded and Max will save her by using this tube for a transfusion.”  I do have to give some credit.  There was one nice shot in the movie.  When they were driving at night and everything turned kind of purple, it reminded me of The Dark Crystal.

5. There were no characters.  I only know Max’s and Furiosa’s names because of the title of the movie (Mad Max: Fury Road).  I think Max and Furiosa were the good guys because their names are in the title, but I have no idea what motivated them or anyone else.  Some of the exposition was about freedom and a green place, but there wasn’t even any exposition about who these people were or why I should care.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  This movie was insulting and boring.  It lacked plot, characters and interesting dialogue.  If you’ve seen the preview, you know what every shot of the movie looks like.  Please, don’t make the same mistake I made.

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