Now Playing Review

New Mad Max a real head scratcher

lars logoNOPE – Mad Max: Fury Road is one helluva mess.

To analyze the story would be akin to reviewing a Coors Light commercial. It would be far too easy to simply dismiss this film as a boneheaded, post-apocalyptic male fantasy popcorn matinee; after all, Michael Bay didn’t even direct it.

No, this film’s more perplexing than that.

Somewhere buried beneath the sand in this bleak wasteland is a message. Probably something about the objectified woman’s eternal struggle with faceless male oppression. Or maybe its yet another very loud and expensive global warming ad about water conservation.

mad maxStill, when the bronze-baked Victoria’s Secret models dressed in flowing white scarves and bicycle shorts appear as our damsels in distress, it’s hard not to envision what the development meetings must have looked like.

“Yeah, ok, I got this! One-armed Charlize Theron takes the hot models and Mad Max on a jailbreak run to her home land…chased the entire way by freaky looking bald eunuch types with silver spray paint on their mouths…and when they finally get there…it’s a wasteland…and there’s a hot chick in a watchtower who sees them coming…and she’s naked!”

The executive would quickly respond: “Wait. Why is Charlize one-armed?”

To which the writer would have the answer: “Because otherwise there’s just too many hot chicks. So, we make the hottest chick, Charlize, one-armed to balance it out, make it more real. It’s symbolic of how women make 72 cents on the same dollar men make.”

Brilliant!

Or not.

Director George Miller tries hard to recapture the rough-around-the-edges indie style of his original 1979 film with satanic mutant warlords, deformed dwarves, and bedouin bandits; but even in that attempt the style over substance quotient is just too much to sustain its lack of story. This film cost a boat load ($150m!), and to Miller’s credit the film is impressive to look at. Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale‘s photography is actually the only reason to possibly see this picture.

Theron and Tom Hardy (Max) by no means phone it in. Both appear to be emotionally engaged throughout; but even they must have had countless moments on the set where they just looked at each other and laughed. Or in this case, grunted? Who knows. By my estimate the script could not have read much past twelve pages.

Twelve too many. They should have scrapped it, buried it in the sand, and started over with something worthy of all the hype.

It’s a mess.

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