After seeing George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road," I ended up writing a review for Spokane Public Radio. I've written many such reviews over the years, but this one is a bit different: It's less a review than it is a rant.
Buy, hey, everyone needs to rant on occasion. Following is my, uh, rant-review:
One of the funniest – actually, make that the most hilarious – so-called controversies about a Hollywood film I’ve ever heard of involves the much-publicized boycott of George Miller’s new film “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Actually, calling Miller’s movie new is a bit of a misnomer. It’s a continuation – or perhaps an extension – of a series the Australian filmmaker began in 1979 with the original film, titled simply “Mad Max.” That was followed two years later by “Mad Max: The Road Warrior” and in 1985 by “Mad Mad: Beyond Thunderdome.”
But then calling “Fury Road” controversial is less of a misnomer than a pure exaggeration. Boycotts by "men’s-rights advocates" are seldom worth noting, even when reason for one exists. And only a bigot – or someone allergic to CGI violence and Tom Hardy’s sensuous lips – could find a reason here. Hardy, by the way, is the actor who has replaced Mel Gibson as the title character.
Let me quote one complainer: “This is the vehicle by which they are guaranteed to force a lecture on feminism down your throat. This is the Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things, including physique, strength, and logic."
The point of view being expressed there is so absurd I’m tempted to think that it was dreamed up by some movie executive worried that – as indeed did happen – “Mad Max: Fury Road” wouldn’t be able to attract as sizeable an audience as “Pitch Perfect 2.” But even if Miller’s new film did make nearly $24 million less than a movie about an all-women glee club – and isn’t THAT ironic? – it still managed to gross more than $45 million, which isn’t a bad total at all.
The truly operative questions are, 1, how good is “Mad Max: Fury Road” and, 2, is it worth paying the extra three and a half bucks to see it in 3D? And the respective answers are: over the top and why not?
Despite three screenwriters getting credit (including Miller), you won’t find much of a story. Max gets taken prisoner early on by the forces of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who starred as Toecutter in the original “Mad Max”) and is used as a blood bag for Warboy Nux (Nicholas Hoult).
It’s only when Imperator Furiosa (a butch looking Charlize Theron), attempts to save the members of Immortan Joe’s harem from sexual servitude that Max is pressed into service – at first reluctantly – in what becomes one extended road race. Unlike the first film, which resembled a Roger Corman exploitation biker flick, “Fury Road” plays like a graphic novel come to life, complete with big bangs, motorcycle jumps too daring even for Steve McQueen and – spoiler alert – a flame-throwing guitar player.
Yes, Hardy’s Max is nearly peripheral to the main plotline. But the fact that “Mad Max: Fury Road” features a female character who could teach Rocky Balboa something about toughness is definitely a plus. To claim otherwise, well, that’s truly worth a giggle.
Maybe even two.