MAD MAX: FURY ROAD review round-up – "The most intense and bruising action ride of the year"

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Just a few hours after you read this, I’ll be on my way to watch Mad Max: Fury Road. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a moment to hate me… There, feel better now? Oh, you didn’t actually hate me for getting to watch one of the most anticipated movies of the year before you? Well, then allow me to stoke that hatred into the type of hard rock firestorm carnage that you actually get to see in this movie with a round-up of early reviews that just dropped after the movie’s press embargo was lifted this morning.

“Fury Road is quite honestly the best action film of the decade – a vibrant, uncompromising masterpiece of motion, grit and nihilistic mayhem, and an absolutely gonzo, brutally unhinged genre picture filmed with awe-inspiring clarity and restraint.”

“And dear god these setpieces. In terms of orchestrating authentic, high-octane action with precision and clarity, George Miller is unmatched, and Fury Road is his finest work. A truly outrageous, operatic, expressive poem to metal, engines, blood and sand, Fury Road is an absolute visual delight popping with color (no bland, post-apocalyptic desaturation going on here) and propulsion – filling every frame with as much information and weight as possible, and with CG used sparingly (occasionally used to enhance a landscape or backdrop); every piece of metal and flesh is clear and palpable”

“A relentless action spectacle that will dazzle audiences with its visceral torque and blazing vehicular madness, perhaps the most impressive feat director George Miller has achieved with “Mad Max: Fury Road” — beyond successfully thunderdoming without Mel Gibson and executing some of the most spectacular action-stunt sequences committed to celluloid maybe ever — is how the 70-year-old filmmaker takes a traditionally testosterone-fueled series and reimagines it as a kind of feminist manifesto with much on its mind. No, really. ‘Fury Road’ might be the most intense and bruising action ride of the year, but the film also moves like a speeding maniac in possession of big and provocative ideas — ideas it scatters out the window while it’s moving at breakneck speeds.”

“There’s much to admire in ‘Fury Road’ beyond its often nail-biting thrills and scorched-earth aesthetics. Production design fetishists will be in awe as Miller’s movie is intensely detailed and designed right down to clothing fibers and the mechanics of everything”

“Yet, ‘Fury Road’ is not without its problems, either. For all its stimulating ideas, it’s still 80% action movie, 20% drama at best. It’s loaded with themes and concepts, but at the same time, many of them are underwritten. Max isn’t much of a character, and in fact, he’s really just a cipher to get the plot in motion and connect the story to Imperator Furiosa’s proposal for female-lead liberty.”

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“Thirty years have passed since our last visit to George Miller’s sun-scorched post-apocalyptic wasteland, and yet “worth the wait” still seems a puny response to the two hours of ferocious, unfettered B-movie bliss offered by “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The sort of exhilarating gonzo entertainment that makes even the nuttier “Fast and Furious” movies look like Autopia test drives, this expertly souped-up return to Max Rockatansky’s world of “fire and blood” finds Tom Hardy confidently donning Mel Gibson’s well-worn leather chaps.

Still, the tersely magnetic British star turns out to be less of a revelation than his glowering co-lead, Charlize Theron, decisively claiming her place (with apologies to Tina Turner) as the most indelible female presence in this gas-guzzling, testosterone-fueled universe. It remains to be seen whether Theron will boost distaff turnout for Warner Bros.’ heavily marketed May 15 release, but either way, word-of-mouth excitement over the film’s beautifully brutal action sequences should lend it tremendous commercial velocity through the summer and beyond.”

“Mad Max: Fury Road is the purest expression of balls-out classic live-action filmmaking in this modern age, a color-drenched chase across the wasteland that looks more like George Miller’s bonkers imagination than any of his previous films. You can taste the dirt and smell the gasoline (which Mad‘s characters still pronounce “guzzle-eeeen”), feel the impact of the flying bodies when they whomp to the ground, suffer the heat of the flame-throwers and the burning sensation of chrome spray-paint in your teeth. It is that vivid.”

“There are so many gnarly, deeply disturbing, look-away touches in Max Max that you’re bound to miss some of them, which makes this a film to see on the biggest, sharpest screen possible; IMAX is a very good idea, and if your town does not have the new laser-projection system, consider a road trip.

It’ll be worth the guzzle-eeen.”

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Mad Max: Fury Road is fearless behind the wheel, a vivid collection of action setpieces unified by a dream of upending the very concept of the action hero.”

“With Theron and Hardy in the lead roles and Miller again in the driver’s seat, Fury Road isn’t merely good enough to obliterate the lingering sting of the last film (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, released in 1985), but so good that it rivals The Road Warrior and shames all Hollywood’s current action tendencies. This film develops its own specific ambition by placing dueling concepts about heroism into the framework of one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen.”

“This is a rock opera, painted in vivid colors with great maelstroms of kinetic energy. Dialogue is sparse. Hardy maybe says a couple dozen lines. Some of it is obviously not even meant to be deciphered — it’s dialogue as color for a scene, a successful version of the experiment Christopher Nolan performed with Interstellar. A few scenes that do rely heavily on dialogue teeter on the razor-thin line between “over the top” and simple parody.”

“Max’s name may be in the title, but Furiosa is the prime motivator. Theron reconfigures Max’s determination and capable skills into a more persuasive hero — she’s suffered through hard times and come out the other side with a purpose, and the willingness to sacrifice to see it through.”

“Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Mad Max: Fury Road is a triumph on every level. It may well be the best film of 2015. Granted, it’s still early in the year, but to have a gauntlet thrown down like this in May makes me excited not only to watch Fury Road again, but for the prospect that any film could come close to matching it.”

“The film is a white knuckler for nearly the entirety of its run time, rarely pumping the brakes on both the narrative and the tricked out cars that populate it. With such incredible momentum, visual spectacle, and vibrant world-building, Mad Max: Fury Road is a nearly perfect viewing experience, especially for those longing to return to Miller’s uniquely inspired slice of scorched earth.”

Mad Max: Fury Road feels like the distillation of a lifetime of filmmaking, a meticulously plotted, carefully choreographed, and lovingly crafted paean to visual splendor. Yet, Fury Road isn’t just a series of spectacles; there are larger themes and societal dissections at work here.”

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“Mad Max: Fury Road is a chase movie. From almost the opening frame characters are in motion, hurtling forward and rarely stopping. The film is breathlessly paced, but entirely coherent; Miller learned his craft in an era that was, comparatively, more classical than our own quick-cut/jostled camera time, and he applies that mentality to a film that still manages to feel modern. Miller keeps the pace going, but he doesn’t bow to modern action requirements – he doesn’t feel the need to keep escalating the insanity onscreen until everything becomes a cacophonous mess of attempts to one-up the last action scene.”

“There’s emotion here, and there are sublimely smart themes that explore our perpetual war machine culture and the patriarchy. There are critiques hidden amidst the explosions, and there are touching character moments deftly inserted between the crashes. Miller wants it all, he wants the mayhem and the excitement of action and he wants the character and depth of good science fiction. He gets it all. He gives us it all.”

“While the film is called Mad Max, and while Hardy is the star, the movie is truly about Furiosa, played with savage physicality by Charlize Theron. She’s the true hero, the real protagonist and the heart of the film… Theron is so fucking tough, and there are large sections of the film where it’s as if she is straight up jockeying with Hardy for ownership of the film.”

““Fury Road” is a breathlessly intense opera of violence and vehicular mayhem that demands both awe and multiple viewings to absorb everything that’s happening in his packed, but never overcrowded, widescreen vistas.”

“There are visuals in “Mad Max: Fury Road” that won’t soon be forgotten, from the sight of a trussed-up Hardy attached to a car like a ship’s mast to the mother of all sandstorms to the heavy-metal guitarist and drummers that accompany the War Boys into battle to the secret of how the elites in Joe’s kingdom stay so well-fed. Miller redefined action cinema with “The Road Warrior,” and it’s no stretch to suggest that “Fury Road” ups the ante on what the genre might deliver in the future.”

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“Marrying the biting frenzy of Terry Gilliam’s film universe with the explosive grandeur of James Cameron, Miller cooks up some exhilaratingly sustained action. But the key to this symphony of twisted metal is how the film never forgets that violence is a sort of madness. Miller’s world is a raw portrait of man at his most primitive, and the oppression of women has long been a recurring motif. With Theron’s Furiosa behind the wheel, though, ‘Fury Road’ steers this macho franchise in a brilliant new direction, forging a mythical portrait about the need for female rule in a world where men need to be saved from themselves.”

 “It’s the best movie of the year thus far and I can only presume will end the season as the summer’s best would-be blockbuster. Point being, if more franchise rebirths were anywhere near this good I’d stop complaining. It may be rooted partially in nostalgia, but good lord does it artistically justify itself in every one of its spellbinding 110 minutes.”

“I presume most of the stunts and crashes were accomplished practically. I don’t know how much of the action is wholly practical and how much of it was achieved or at least enhanced with digital wizardry. So let me compliment both sides of the equation by stating that I believed my eyes for every single crowd pleasing moment. The only unbelievable part is that no one was seriously hurt or killed during the making of this picture. I cannot overstate the quality of the mayhem we see onscreen, both in terms of the vehicular carnage and how much each crash and near miss matters in terms of the story being told. There are real artistry and poetry to the onscreen chaos. This is a spectacular action picture that slowly morphs into an out-and-out great film.”

Well, damn. My hype-o-meter has just shot through the roof. At the time of writing this, there were still plenty of reviews rolling in, but they’re pretty much all saying the same thing: Mad Max: Fury Road is utterly insane in all the right ways.

Read  Venom review - At least it’s better than Spider-Man 3

Last Updated: May 12, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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