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Monday, May 18, 2015
My relationship with the Mad Max movies is complicated. The first Mad Max movie I ever saw was Beyond Thunderdome. I thought it was stereotypical 1980s cheese, but it did inspire me to check out the other movies in the series. But by the time I finished the original Mad Max movie from 1979, I was so disturbed by what I saw that I did not even bother watching Mad Max 2 until much, much later.

When the trailers for Mad Max: Fury Road started circulating, I saw something very different about this new Mad Max movie that caused me to put aside my hesitations about the series and give this new one a chance. Mad Max: Fury Road is a reboot to the series, but it is definitely part of the Mad Max universe. It is gritty and unpredictable but, most of all, it is just a really good movie.

I have to admit that, since director George Miller is the person responsible for the first three Mad Max movies, I was not overly excited about what I was going to see. But it is obvious that Miller has learned a lot in 30 years and this new movie is as visually stunning as it is exciting to watch. Miller finally realized that his Mad Max movies need color of some kind if they are going to be visually appealing and he mixes a variety of colors into Mad Max: Fury Road that give this movie a completely different look than the other three movies (I finally did watch Mad Max 2 when it hit cable a few years ago).

Miller’s desire to create some of the most unbelievable desert automobile gangs is just as strong as ever and everything about these characters is just plain bizarre. The look of this movie is deeper and darker than the other Mad Max movies, which is probably what I was lacking from Beyond Thunderdome when I dismissed it as a typical 80s romp. I have to admit that the guitar-playing mutant being raced through the desert in Fury Road on his own portable stage was visually amazing, although it really did lack purpose when it came to the storyline. But you get a lot of those types of characters in a Mad Max movie, which is one of the things that makes them Mad Max movies.

From the moment Mad Max: Fury Road begins, it does not stop. It is a movie of perpetual motion which had to have created several challenges for Miller. The inability to shoot a movie of this scale in one take, while still trying to create the illusion that the action never stops, had to take years to plan properly. But the final effect is breathtaking and the movie literally does not stop for 120 minutes. There are a couple of scenes that I felt dragged on too long, but you get that with any movie.

Miller has also evolved as a visual storyteller as he gives us subtle and not-so-subtle clues about each character that helps to develop the primary characters into people we have opinions about. We are interested in what happens in this movie and we care about the fates of the primary characters. We also have a little trouble in sorting out the good guys from the bad guys, but that is also something that helps to make a movie a Mad Max movie.

Mad Max: Fury Road is obviously the first movie in a series of movies yet to come, but it does not throw the sequels in your face. This movie stands on its own and almost nothing from this movie will need to carry over into any sequels. Miller has created a movie that demands a sequel, but the only ongoing story line is the mental torture and anguish that consumes Max. This movie ties up everything in a tight little bow, with the exception of the demons that haunt Max. Those demons get a little confusing when they go from haunting Max to helping him, but we will have at least three more movies to figure out what Max has buried in his past as Tom Hardy has signed on to play Max in three more movies.

There is plenty you have to ignore about this movie, mostly because some things never get explained. For example, how do people who live in the desert have chalk white skin? But the movie is solid enough that you can throw that away and just enjoy this reboot. Miller looks like he is finally getting it right and I am anxious to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in movie fanatic who would use his last dollar to see a drive-in movie, if that is what it took. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at If he doesn’t respond, then he is probably at the movies.

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