Max is back and he’s… happy, à la Pharrell Williams? Don’t be absurd. He’s fricking mad, of course! Even though George Miller, the creator and “mastermind” behind the Mad Max films (it says mastermind right there, in the trailer) gave us the adorable film Happy Feet, don’t expect any such cuteness from Miller’s brutal post-apocalyptic, gasoline-hungry world.
At the start of the new trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road — recently revealed at San Diego’s Comic Con — Max, played by the English actor Tom Hardy, stands on a hill next to his kickass super-charged V8 interceptor, while surveying the desert sprawled out before him. A sweet little two-headed irradiated lizard scurries up to him and promptly gets stomped on. Remember, Max, who lost his family in the original film, is really mad. He’s got to get that aggression out somehow. Poor little lizard …
Of course, a hardcore car chase immediately follows the lizard squash, followed by even more chases full of hybrid jerry-rigged vehicles coming in all shapes and sizes. Beautiful panoramas and non-stop automotive-based action sequences that would put even the most aggressive sufferer of road rage to shame ensue. Women wandering the desert in skimpy, flowing white dresses, massive sand storms and plenty of metal-crunching action unfold in a barrage of quick shots that make spectacular use of the stark and serenely gorgeous landscapes.
Oh baby, I can’t wait. While George Miller’s “Max Universe” has been duplicated quite a few times since he first introduced Max way back in 1979, I have faith that this reboot — or whatever you want to call it (a continuation story?) — won’t disappoint. Miller has stated that he drew up the plot with storyboards first (3500 panels) rather than a traditional screenplay. In other words, it’s visually-based cinema, as good cinema ought to be.
At Comic Con, George told the audience that this new incarnation of Mad Max is “a Western on wheels.” The film, which features a shaven-headed Charlize Theron as the character Imperetor Furiosa, is “almost a continuous chase” that went the “old school” route. Miller wanted to use as little CG (computer graphics) as possible, and rely on stunts “involving real people” instead.
Although an earlier version back in 2001, featuring the original Max (Mel Gibson) never got off the ground, the little kid and fanboy dwelling inside of me has been waiting for the return of Max for some time now. Teasing me with the possibility over the last decade and a half has been rather cruel.
A harsh environment where anarchy reigns, while admittedly ultraviolet, has always appealed to me. The popularity of Max doesn’t seem to have waned much over the years, which means a lot of other filmgoers out there feel the same. Freedom truly exists (no laws, no government) in Max’s universe, making the consequences of most choices potentially much more severe than in a world full of shopping centers, grocery stores and indoor gyms.
From the first look of the thing, Fury Road appears to be refreshingly analog. Digital displays are absent in this hellish world. Max will never look at his dashboard and ask a post-apocalyptic Siri for directions or weather updates. It seems metal, gasoline, rubber and more metal, plus whatever badass outfits the characters can scrape together — not to mention a ton of retro firepower — will fuel this adventure.
The raw, elemental struggle of good against bad, and simply for mere survival, is a wonderful canvas for big cinema. Perhaps a planet that has gone through some kind of Armageddon would more closely resemble the dreary and soul-crushing backdrop of Cormac McCarthy’s short novel (and movie), The Road, where finding food and shoes take up most of the protagonists’ time.
As entertaining as McCarthy’s story was, I need more in my post-apocalyptic fare. Epic car chases set in the Outback, full of mythic struggles and lots of inventive, ramshackle, motorized hardware is what I really want. What better place to brood and self-indulge (“woe is me”) than a planet ravaged by nuclear war?