Over the last week or so, I’ve read two negative reviews of the latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, both written by people who HAD NOT EVEN SEEN THE MOVIE. I didn’t actually know it was possible to review a film without watching it first, but apparently it’s enough to read someone else’s review and watch the trailer.
The most recent review was from Chicks on the Right, a nauseatingly ditsy online publication. The writers were complaining that George Miller, the director of Fury Road, has been pandering to feminazis by writing in a strong female character who has more lines of dialogue than Mad Max himself. Gasp! Shock! Horror! It’s not as though Mad Max only had 16 lines in one of his previous movies. Oh wait! Yes it is! They went on to have a whinge about how this is supposed to be a straight up ‘guys’ movie’ with explosions and so on and adding a female character is akin to adding a car chase sequence into a romantic comedy.
Now I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I do consider myself anti-sexist. I don’t support sexism towards men or women. I’m also a right-wing conservative myself. But this review irritated the crap out of me.First of all, it’s patronizing to suggest men can’t handle watching in action movie with a story line about women.
Second, it’s also patronizing as hell to suggest that action movies are for boys and romantic comedies are for girls. I love action movies, and I usually can’t sit through romantic comedies without getting bored and/or nauseous. Watching Jennifer Aniston and Ryan Reynolds talk about their feelings doesn’t interest me.
Third, I would love to see romantic comedies with car chases. Knight and Day springs to mind as a film already borrowing from that genre mashup.
Fourth, do men REALLY need another action movie just about car chases and explosions and damsels in distress who just sit there screaming and needing to be rescued all the time? Seriously? Are there not enough of those films already? Can’t the world handle just *one* action movie that doesn’t fall into this category?
Now I get why people would be annoyed at the thought of a female character bossing Mad Max around. It annoys me when I watch movies, or read books, where the badass woman finds it necessary to insult and degrade the male character. Or she’s badass because all the male characters are nerdy or inept, because Hollywood finds it impossible to handle the idea of two tough characters, one male and one female, who can actually work together without having angry sexual tension between them. Han Solo and Princess Leia capture that kind of relationship perfectly, and it was cute in Star Wars, but I’d like to see something different every now and then.
And that’s exactly what Mad Max delivered.
I just have to say first off, that this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a crazy thrill-ride filled with insane characters and relentless action, set against the barren post-apocalyptic Australian outback. Oh yeah it’s an Australian movie. First time I’ve ever been able to say, ‘That was a good Australian movie!’ The soundtrack was also pretty epic. They had Verdi’s Dies Irae, for heaven’s sake.
The cinematography is stunning. Special effects top-notch, never screaming out ‘hey look at this CGI right here.’ I watched in 3D and the effects were never over-exaggerated. The lightning-filled dust storm sequence was particularly memorable. The dialogue was sparse and the writers didn’t waste any time lingering on the backstory, which is nice for a change.
Tom Hardy never quite masters an Aussie accent but I give him credit for trying. He plays a silent and stoic Max, reluctantly pulled into someone else’s battle while battling his own demons. Despite being quite pretty to look at, Hardy has shown before that he’s capable of a very strong on-screen presence when he took on the role of Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. He brings a level of intensity and complexity to Max, without ever coming across as lost or one-dimensional as a lot of strong, silent characters do.
He’s well matched opposite Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa, the badass amputee with the shaved head and engine-oil war paint. Furiosa flees from cult leader Immortan Joe with the dictator’s five wives, and joins forces with Mad Max in her stolen war rig while being chased by a fleet of angry War Boys led by Immortan Joe himself.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley gives a memorable performance as the heavily-pregnant Angharad, Immortan Joe’s favorite wife, which I found surprising considering her debut as that annoying chick in Transformers who just screamed and ran around in high heels. My favorite aspect of the film is the portrayal of the wives. Aside from the message about sex slavery, they’re all strong women with independent characters. Their desire for a better future for their unborn children, who had been presumably conceived in rape, set the entire story in motion and eventually led to the downfall of Immortan Joe’s entire regime. It’s rare for modern-day films to ever portray mothers as being this powerful.
It was also refreshing to see female characters who weren’t overly sexualised. The director didn’t find it necessary to dress Charlize Theron in skin-tight leather and a push-up bra in order to show how badass she was. And despite the storyline revolving around the concept of sex slaves, there wasn’t a single rape scene or depiction of sexual violence. I actually found the violence level quite tolerable – there’s a lot of death and destruction, but you don’t see much blood and gore or close-ups. More violent than Lord of the Rings, less than TV series Luther or Game of Thrones. (There is a scene where they deliver a stillborn baby after the mother dies, so I wouldn’t recommend it to pregnant women, or anyone who has suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth).
Overall, I loved it – every spectacular, insane, furious moment. George Miller has announced that he has plans for another two films, and Hardy has expressed interest in reprising the title role another four times. I can’t wait for the next one ;p