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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

In the year that gave us SpectreThe Martian and Birdman director George Miller brought us an unexpected delight, Mad Max: Fury Road.

Like a drug-fuelled-hyped up version of The Fast and the Furious, Mad Max: Fury Road is explosive and filled to the brim with continuous action and deafening sound design; an exhilarating cinematic experience that is far from monotonous. Thirty-seven years on from its cult-loved predecessor- Mad Max starring Mel Gibson, this motion picture utilizes technology to create a piece that is simply stunning. From the vast desert wastelands to the desolate city of Citadel, visually this film is a spectacular slice of the silver screen. Its no real surprise that it was the winner of six Oscars this year, including Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Editing and Production Design, as well as a handful of BAFTAS.

In contrast, its original Mad Max was however not as successful, in 1979 only winning a series of Australian Film Institute awards; but this may simply be down to the fact that undeniably Mad Max: Fury Road was marketed as a Hollywood Cash Cow. Vastly contrasting the original, Mad Max: Fury Road also had an enormous budget of $150 million in comparison to the mere $350-$400,000 George Miller pumped into the first installment. With the larger budget, known cast and extensive locations/explosions, it is clear why the 2015 hit was so costly.

Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic depiction of the future, the latest installment follows Max Rockatansky (played by beloved actor Tom Hardy) who is captured by a group of delusional ‘war-boys’ under the control of dictator Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne who played villain Toecutter in the original installment). With a turn of events, Max is found in the company of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is attempting to escape the grasp of the vicious dictator, along with his several wives in order to find ‘The Green Place’; a fertile area full of hope and sustainable resources key to their survival. Furiosa, similarly to the iconic Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien or Sarah Connor in The Terminator, she challenges the role of women; leading as the female protagonist, she is tough and an excellent combatant.

The film is very much based around proving the strength of the female characters, from Furiosa and the wives, to the tribe of the Vulvalini; a resilient group of women both old and young, living in the desert. Notably, author of the Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler was brought onto set to talk to the actresses cast as the wives about violence against women; in order to enhance the believability of their characters. This kind of attention to detail shows how George Miller was a stickler for perfection.

With its soundtrack, it is clear that the latest installment of the Mad Max franchise wanted to differentiate itself and produce a modernized feel in contrast to its original. Mad Max’s soundtrack in 1979 was composed by Brian May (the Australian composer, not the guitarist in Queen) and was dramatic and suspenseful; featuring the vocal talents of the powerful songstress Tina Turner. Its 2015 counterpart, however, is intelligibly electronic, with a booming bass created by composer Junkie XL.

Visually, what is outstanding is the actuality that over 80% of the effects shown on screen are in fact real, practical effects. The limited use of CG dramatically increases the verisimilitude and entertainment of the film, allowing for a more authentic motion picture. Filmed on location in the Namibian desert, director George Miller insisted on real effects, only using the limited CG for such effects as the terrifying dust storm. This creative decision, alongside the sped-up editing allows for the audience to feel like they are part of the film, following the action of the characters alongside them and heightening their cinematic experience.

This unique and quirky motion picture despite lacking in any dull moments, does however, in my opinion exceed the duration a plot like this should have, as for the majority of the run time, it is simply a hyped up car chase. The Non-stop exertion although aesthetically pleasing, is a tad exhausting due to overpowering action and tumultuous soundtrack. For some viewers, it may simply be TOO overwhelming, with too much action on screen to take in.

Nevertheless it is a motion picture that is nothing short of a spectacle with an intriguing plot and a brilliant cast Mad Max: Fury Road differentiates itself to anything the cinematic year of 2015 encountered. An idiosyncratic adventure directed fantastically, despite the booming sound design, it is something I would definitely recommend for anyone who loves full-blown action-packed motion pictures.

I salute you, George Miller!

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— AW