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Mad Max: Fury Road – Guest Review

A guest review for Mad Max: Fury Road – what’s that!? Yes, I thought I’d try something new this time around, something that might be a bit more entertaining to read rather than my normal movie reviews. 


I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road on opening night with my good buddy Cody S. (I’m sure he’d like to remain as anonymous as possible – ha) and thought it best that I do a question and answer type review with him to help spice things up around here. So basically I wrote up 6 questions that he and I sent back and forth to one another with responses. (make sense?) Here is the review or the conversation that transpired…

Question 1:

Ok Cody, let’s start this off with an easy one. Before Going to see Mad Max: Fury Road, what were your expectations? (Side note for the same question – On a scale of 1 to 10 how excited were you to see it?)

Cody:
Going in I had fairly high expectations for the newest iteration of the Mad Max series. Along with many others, my hype was heightened by the positive reviews that the movie received pre-release. The thing that excited me the most, however, wasn’t the hype that was building around the movie or the big name actors that were cast for the starring roles. I was excited to finally step foot back into the world that George Miller had created. Sure, Mad Max isn’t the first piece of media to explore a “post-apocalyptic” Earth, and to be honest I am starting to grow tired of such bleak settings in movies, video games, etc., but in my opinion these films have done a fantastic job of bringing life to such a bleak setting and setting themselves apart from the plethora of other similarly set pieces. Although I wasn’t incredibly familiar with the storyline of the original trilogy the anticipation of experiencing this world again had me more excited for this movie than I have been for any other movie in a long time. To quantify my hype, so to speak, I would give my excitement for the movie a strong 9 as I have been spurned by too many big budget productions recently to hand out 10’s (  RIP The Hobbit films :’(  )

Lucas:
I would first have to admit that with the initial trailer I watched on the Internet some eons ago, my gut reaction was “Oh great, another post-apocalyptic movie and to top it off – it’s a remake!” … needless to say, I was not excited. Though, as you mentioned, when the first reviews started showing up and were extremely positive about it, my perspective changed dramatically. Due to this discovery of said reviews, I started digging and really making it a point to take in a lot of the conversation and rumor. I was even hearing tales about this film being the surprise movie of the year. Rest assured I had my reservations and was trying to remain skeptical until I had read a review in our own local newspaper. (which always seemed to be extremely pessimistic when it comes to blockbuster type movies) The article went on to state that Mad Max: Fury Road could very well be the “best action movie” ever made. Well consider my speculation completely stumped and my anticipation heightened. I think from the 1 to 10 scale it went from a 4 to a solid 9 after flipping through review after positive review.

Question 2:

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Have you seen any of the previous installments of the Mad Max franchise – if so – how does this compare/hold up to what has come before it?

Lucas:
Actually I have seen the first two Mad Max films but out of order. At the time of watching the 2nd Mad Max, I had no idea that it was a sequel nor did I have a clue what I was even taking in. But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t having fun watching it. It was a young Mel Gibson and everything seemed to be chaotic in nature but for what reason was beyond my comprehension. After a few years, I went back and watched the first and second films in order and found them to be better and I appreciated them a lot more for the artistic merit they put on display. Yet, I don’t know if I would have ever said I was a “fan” of them or if I would ever tell someone else to watch them. The Mad Max films seem to be geared towards a particular audience and I wasn’t sure if I fell in that specific viewership spectrum or not. Now after watching Fury Road I think my opinion on where I stand has changed. For me, Fury Road is better than the others within the Mad Max franchise, but more so because it utilizes fresh talent and seems extremely polished visually.

Cody:
I have only seen the first of the original trilogy and I wouldn’t say that I watched it intentionally. I remember walking into the living room many years ago and seeing my dad watching a movie with Mel Gibson in it. Not having any idea what the movie was I asked my dad “What movie is this” to which his reply was along the lines of “It’s called Mad Max. It’s one of Mel Gibson’s earlier movies, it’s really weird but there’s nothing else on”. I have to agree with my father that the movie certainly was weird but, as I watched I was drawn into the environment. There was something different about it which seemed more… put together than other movies. This being the only time I have seen any of the original movies, however, I don’t have a very concrete memory of the plot or storyline of the originals. However, while watching Fury Road I almost had a constant sense of déjà vu. Everything felt familiar although it wasn’t really a story I was knowledgeable of. I agree that this movie was a very good entrance point for those who have no idea what Mad Max is as well as those who just a surface level understanding like myself.

Question 3:

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Would you be able to name off two or three things about the film that you enjoyed and explain why?

Cody:
For me, the selling point of the movie is the setting. I feel like I could write a doctoral thesis length explanation as to why I enjoyed the setting but I will try to summarize it into three words: “It’s so fun”. Now, generally I wouldn’t describe the setting of a movie as fun but I can’t find better words for this movie. Interwoven with the most intense action scenes of the movie are little tidbits of the environment, be they the characters, the vehicles, or the locations that are so over-the-top that you can’t help but be amused. The society that is portrayed is so different from our own that you truly feel immersed in a different world. Another selling point of Fury Road is certainly special effects. In this respect I feel Fury Road stands its ground among many of the recent movies released. All of the vehicles feel real, the explosions believable, and most importantly at no point did I ever feel like people were not leaping from vehicle to vehicle while traveling at incredible speeds.  The scene within the sandstorm is one of the most impressive visual scenes I can remember.

Lucas:
Ha, “doctoral thesis length explanation” – love it. I’ll try and keep mine to 3 points.

  1. The visual aesthetic of the film was astounding. From the opening scene all the way through to the final shot, it was as if this barren wasteland of a world actually existed. The attention to detail for the set pieces, the costume design, the cars, the visual effects, and just about everything you see is what will pull you into this world that Miller has created. It’s almost as if he has been to this place before…
  2. The camera work, or Cinematography for you cinephiles out there, was probably some of the best I’ve ever witnessed. It took what could have been a movie we’ve all seen before, and made it something entirely different and unique. I’ve seen some of this type of work before within horror movies, but for an action packed thrill ride such as this, it was perfect and definitely adds to the insanity of it all.
  3. The music not only gets your pulse racing, it increases the exhilaration you feel during each and every moment that plays out on screen. You know the feeling I’m talking about right? When you’re heart is pounding and your palms start to get sweaty and you can feel the goose bumps start to build down the back of your neck…yeah that feeling. It’s like a free fall without a parachute and you’ve just gotta grab on and enjoy the ride!

Question 4:

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If you could change two things about the movie what would it be and why?

Lucas:
I know one thing that’s easy for me to point out which is not a spoiler of any kind … what’s with the men in white? Why are there all these guys without any shirts, painted in white, and blindly following the orders of a man who could easily be taken out at any given point? Who are these people? Are they sick? Do they not get enough sun in the desert world that this film takes place in? A little back-story or slight character development would have gone a LONG way for me there. The other glaring thing that seemed to bother me was the lack of explanation behind pumping all the milk from the big ol’ ladies up in the citadel. This might as well be just an addition to the other complaint/discrepancy I had because it all points to the lack of explanation for a lot of things. Miller expects his audience just to dive in and enjoy the ride – and I did. Yet, there were plenty of things that had transpired on screen for my mind to wander and to think about once the dust settled. Keep in mind this doesn’t ruin the movie at all, but the more you think about certain details and aspects that the action glosses over the more you start to uncover and ponder.

Cody:
I don’t think I could agree with you anymore on this point. There is absolutely no set-up or explanation for the world that Fury Road takes place in aside from a short snippet of political pandering in the opening scene of the movie. After this opening scene, as you suggested, we are all expected to sit back idly and “enjoy the ride” (buh-dum-tsss). Luckily, Fury Road is so incredibly entertaining that, while watching, it is easy to forget about the inadequate story. I truly believe this is one of the most entertaining movies I’ve watched in my life but if I were to experience the same “story” as a book I would have been incredibly disappointed. Another thing that I would change, which you somewhat alluded to, is much more development into who Max is. Maybe this is provided in the previous installments of the series but coming in fresh, for the most part, I felt that there was a lot of potential missed in Max’s character. There are a few aspects of his character and backstory that are made very apparent, but I felt we were only given enough about him to yield more questions. Again, I think it is Miller’s intention for the viewer to simply accept Max and not be bothered by who he is but in a world so rich with possibility a bit more back-story would have gone a long way.

In regards to your complaint about the “men in white” I think they are actually just albino. Maybe… actually they might have been painted white. Why are they the only albinos or the only people painted white? Oh well, don’t ask questions I guess.

Question 5:

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Would you recommend that anyone shell out their $10+ to go see this in theaters or is it ok to wait to watch it at home?

Cody:
Hmm… this is a good question. As stated before, Fury Road is entertainment bliss. The amount of pure enjoyment I got from this film absolutely justified the price of my ticket AS WELL AS my $25 dollar soda. Generally I feel that I would get just as much enjoyment watching movies at home for a fraction of the price but I think Fury Road is an exception. The sounds and sights of the movie are meant for the big screen. The general lack of story may become more apparent when watching from home and could leave a lot of consumers viewing from home disappointed. As for the question “would I recommend anyone to shell out for the price of a ticket” I would respond with this question: “Do you really want to enjoy the movie?” If the answer is yes then get to the theaters as soon as you can and enjoy a purely entertaining film.

Lucas:
See, I agree on your point that it’s worth it for the amazing cinematic experience it presents, but this is not a film for everyone. I don’t think I could fathom my wife, my mother, or my brother-in-law ever wanting to see this movie, much less pay to see it. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t appreciate some of the things we’ve made mention of, but the movie itself lacks key factors of what they might expect to see. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, one that is willing to let your mind take a back seat, and are out for a boisterous explosion of an encounter this is a movie for you. As for myself, it was worth the price of admission mainly for what you already touched on – but truly the spectacle of it all is something to only see on the big screen.

Question 6:

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Wrap it up – what would you give this movie based on a scale of 1 to 5 stars? (5 being the best movie you’ve ever experienced obviously)

Lucas:
Speaking in terms of pure entertainment, I’d give it a solid 4 and let me briefly explain why. This movie doesn’t undergo some mind bending arch or alternative ending that you don’t already see coming – simply put, it’s exactly what it appears to be. Mad Max: Fury Road is purely an action film presented in what is arguably the best interpretation of a genre in a very long while. It relies a lot on the viewer’s ability to allow the movie to engulf them into its world and forgo any preconceived notions that there is more to it than that. Anyone attempting to be pretentious enough to say that Mad Max has a deep underlying message is just blowing smoke up your ass and is just trying to give more significance to something that doesn’t need it. Now if I were to rate the film solely on it being a “good” movie … I’d have to give it a 3. Suffice it to say that you should not have to have any previous knowledge of the aforementioned films to be able to “get” this one and I feel that it kind of suggests that you be that type of viewer. Even on an acting scale there wasn’t anything that stood out and touched me on any level where I would talk about it later on. It’s a blow em’ up, in your face, car chase that is just a lot of fun to watch – nothing more.

Cody:
Sadly, I would have to rate the movie at a 3.5. If I was to rate the movie purely from an entertainment point of view I would give it a 5 without any hesitation. But when I try to put all the pieces together … it just comes up a bit short. Hopefully, no one with an interest in this movie would see a 3.5 / 5 and decide not to watch it because of that. As you said earlier it’s not a movie for everyone but anyone who is interested in this type of movie would certainly find enjoyment out of it. As far as a complete piece of media I feel that the lack of backstory and solid plotline, hold Fury Road back from its ultimate potential.


So there you have it … a different type of review than what you would normally get from the Phoenixwave.com blog! If you have seen Mad Max – please chime in and let us know your thoughts! (yes – we actually like comments – good or bad)

Please be sure to let me know if you liked this format and perhaps I’ll try to do more of these in the future! Thanks again to Cody S. for his willingness to participate and to bro date it up with a trip to the theater!

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About Lucas Tetrault:

Lucas Tetrault is an Art Director who is responsible for the concept, design, direction, and end result of advertising, print, web, social, mobile, ui/ux and multimedia materials. When he isn't working at CS Kern, Lucas spends most of his time with his wife Celeste and their son Jacik. He might spend any other available time at the computer, watching movies, fixing his car, writing blog posts, sketching/drawing, messing with his phone or a plethora of other things. Lucas can't thank his family and friends enough for all of their love and support towards everything he does and has accomplished.



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