“Mad Max: Fury Road” is one of the most beautiful films visually while still being wholly engaging as an action film.
The film, directed by Australian director George Miller, stars Tom Hardy in the titular role of Max, a drifter in the desert wasteland the movie takes place in. The film also stars Charlize Theron as the Imperator Furiosa, Hugh Keyes-Byrne as the roadraging dictator Immortan Joe, as well as Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton in supporting roles. The film centers around Max’s entry into a conflict between Furiosa and Immortan Joe to free his broodwives and take them away to the mythical Green Place.
As mentioned, the film is so stunningly beautiful despite its post-apocalyptic setting. George Miller is a visionary director in this respect in that he combines the old style of filmmaking based primarily on visuals but also the modern style of intense cuts and dramatic zooms. In many scenes, Miller accomplishes this blended style by filming a scene and turning up the saturation to a massive degree or using actual transparent color filters on cameras.
The film’s place in the collection of Mad Max films should also be noted. George Miller began making the series of Mad Max films in 1979, a good 30 years removed from Mad Max: Fury Road, with disgraced actor Mel Gibson playing the role of Max Rockatansky. The first film entitled “Mad Max” features much less visually striking cinematography and a more recognizable setting to our modern life. In “Fury Road,” the world is far bleaker. Immortan Joe hordes the only source of water for hundreds of miles, rules over single-production communities who pool their resources to maintain power and demean everyone who is not a member of the “in-crowd.” He and his fascist regime in the wastelands of Australia also employ jury-rigged mechanical “war rigs” made out of vehicles and outfitted with fearsome weapons to drive across the desert. It’s a whole new ball game in the 2015 half-sequel to the last “Mad Max” film, “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”
George Miller’s use of practical effects versus special effects is the real icing on the cake of this movie visually. Throughout the film, there are only two instances of computer-generated effects, once in a car chase scene and once in another absolutely gorgeous scene where many of the outlandish vehicles drive into a gigantic sandstorm. Otherwise, everything you see in the film, save for obvious standard edits, is au naturale. This contributes to the stunning visual element of the film. Because of all these elements, the film won six awards at the 88th Academy Awards in costume design, production design, makeup and hairstyling, film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing. It deserves every single one.
Returning to great films now and again is a worthwhile pastime because you may find new things that you didn’t notice before. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is certainly in this category. You don’t even need to have seen the others to understand the story. It sits on its own as a thrilling movie experience. Happy watching!