#242 – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

From 685,958 votes, Mad Max: Fury Road has an 8.1/10 rating from the users of IMDb, the first movie at this time to reach that number.

A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in postapocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max.
I’m not exactly sure where to start when it comes to describing how I felt watching this film. I expected to enjoy it, but I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. This film is set after the original trilogy which came out in the late 70s to mid 80s and as that blurb above said, takes place in a postapocalyptic Australia, after some sort of nuclear holocaust. I’ve never seen the original trilogy (but I sure am going to now) and I went in pretty blind, with my only knowledge of the Mad Max universe being “Borderlands is a bit like it”.
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The story follows Max, a drifter who has been hunted, kidnapped and turned into a literal human blood bag by an army of pale skinheads or ‘War Boys’ who serve/worship Immortan Joe – a ruthless dictator who has many wives, a breast milk farm and a bit of a nasty attitude. Yes, I know, a breast milk farm. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Yes, it’s weird. But anyway, in a thrilling series of events, one of Joe’s imperators (some sort of high ranking soldier) turns a supply run into a wife-liberation mission and Max is strapped to the front of a car by one of the War Boys trying to apprehend them. Yes, strapped to a car. Yes, with a muzzle and everything. Yes, it’s as camp as it sounds.
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Something the movie does well is its commitment to the postapocalyptic world that they’ve crafted’s lore. It’s all very camp and extra, but also so very detailed. The little touches here and there highlight the bizzare-ness of the world. The ground isn’t barren, it’s ‘sour’. That isn’t a sniper rifle, it’s a ‘Big Boy’. He’s not a doctor, he’s an organic mechanic (yes, I love this phrase and will be using it forever). The different classes of car, and the distinct looks of each different ‘regiment’ or ‘tribe’ has in their respective convoys shows a tremendous attention to detail and the movie is an absolute visual trip. It cleverly takes place 95% in a barren wasteland of orange and brown, which just highlights the rough beauty and grunginess of the character’s outfits and the sharpness and mechanical deathiness of the vehicles. It looks awesome. The aesthetic is painstakingly breathed through each prop and design, from Furiosa’s prosthetic arm, to the Vuvalini bait-tower, to the people-eater’s garish nose plate. It’s just a visual feast.
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One thing that irked me, and it’s a minor thing, is that Max’s backstory is only softly hinted at, but appears to be a massive part of his character. Max is a character with three other films behind him, but these aren’t really expanded upon within this film. And that’s okay. I don’t believe Max is the main character of this film, it is imperator Furiosa. Max is important to the plot in that he enabled the progression, but without Furiosa’s bravery and fortitude the plot wouldn’t have started. Max is Furiosa’s blood bag.
This is of course not downplaying the other characters. Nux is a sympathetic character with a case of side-switching that is actually relatively believable, the Vuvalini women are totally badass for the short amount of time we get to see them, and the Wives in White (band name if I ever saw one) do a pretty decent job of being their own realised characters instead of fleshy plot pieces. I felt horrified with what happened to Splendid. And my favourite is Capable simply because she has the memorable line “I can do it” and that’s the most amazing paint-by-numbers reverse nominative determinism I’ve ever seen.
Overall, this film is (I’m gonna use that word again) an absolute romp and I can see myself watching it again in the not-so-distant future. I’m a huge fan of good worldbuilding and interesting, unique characters and this film is pretty full of them.
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I may even get the videogame.
RYAN’S NORSE MYTHOLOGY CORNER
For some odd reason, Norse mythological references play a large part in War Boy culture. They are promised the gates of ‘Valhalla’ if they die heroically for the Citadel, Immortan Joe’s dystopian colony. Valhalla, in mythology, is the legendary ‘hall of the slain’ ruled over by Odin and his Valkyries (quick note: Valkyrie was the name of the naked Vuvalini woman). Valkyries were warrior-maidens who choose those who died in battle to become Einherjar, who were the personal army of Odin himself. They were destined to fight for Odin during Ragnarok, the end of the world and well, everything else, really.
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Poetry such as Grímnismál, found within the Poetic Edda, portray Valhalla as a gigantic feasting hall with shields forming the ceiling with a branch of the world tree Yggdrasil winding its way through the hall. It is often depicted as a grand feast, where the Einherjar could eat, drink and fight with one another in preparation for the end of days. The food and drink replenished themselves and any wounds magically healed. It was said that there in the hall would be the fight between the army of the gods and Fenrir, the wolf of legends.
So it makes sense that parts of the iconography of Valhalla as an afterlife would be utilised by Immortan Joe to convince his War Boys to act exactly as he wanted them. For the War Boys, who are riddled with diseases and cancers due to mutation and radiation, the promise of a fun afterlife such as that found in Valhalla would provide hope. With life being the drag that it seems to be, you’d do anything if promised an eternity of partying, right?

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