Went and saw George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road last week. A film, really, that is deserving to see in a cinema. It’s a big, beautiful spectacle.
It has a few flaws, the primarily being what I consider a sin of plot, in which the characters go one way, only to decide at the mid point to turn around and go back the way they came. Still, if by that point you’re into the film, you’re into it. If you’re not, well, the film wasn’t going to suddenly become a film you’d like. The film isn’t spoiled by the choice. It’s simply that a more interesting choice could have been made. Others will disagree, though. Still, it’s a flaw in a film that otherwise looks excellent, and has some fine performances, most notably from Charlize Theron. Tom Hardy isn’t too bad as Max, and I enjoyed his version, but in many ways, Max isn’t a very sympathetic character. He’s merely the vessel by which the audience is delivered into the narrative. His role, within that, is simply one of survival – Theron’s character has one with more depth, and therefor, more resonance for the audience.
Before the film was released, there was a lot of noise about the film being a feminist film, and how horrifying that was. I’ll not link the article because it was beyond stupid, but sufficient to say that a) the writer of that article had never seen one of Miller’s films before, apparently and b) for a feminist film, Mad Max: Fury Road walks a pretty tame line. It’s much fairer to say that Theron’s Imperator Furiosa and Hardy’s Max treat each other as equals. I’m not sure why that makes it such a radical, feminist text, but men’s rights activists are largely an embarrassment, so I’m not terribly surprised. The are some themes made about slavery, and in particular sexual slavery, but again, I’m not sure why it got some guys riled up. Y’know, slavery is bad. We all learnt that when we were little kids and discovered the endless, endless horrors that people who are enslaved experience. Maybe that’s become a radical notion, now. I don’t know: whatever the complaint was, originally, all I can say is that I’ve seen a lot more films that push a lot more of a feminist angle.
In many ways, I found it kind of sad, in the days after I saw the film, that some guys had gotten riled up over it. I saw a lot of women who liked Mad Max: Fury Road. A lot of women (and a lot of men) who enjoyed it, who felt that there were characters that they could engage with, and enjoy. Is this not a good thing? Is it not cool that a film that is essentially one giant car chase, set in a post apocalyptic landscape is able to speak to women? Isn’t it, like, a huge positive that everyone has something they can enjoy as all the stunts roll out, the cars blow up, the people are shot, and the diseased, broken figures of the landscape emerge? There seemed to be this whole argument that underlined the opposition to Mad Max that somehow women ought not enjoy such things. Maybe their place is in front of female friendly comedies, or Disney films, and maybe all the diesel stains, big engines, gun shots and deformities are for men. Maybe that’s the natural order of the world. Maybe, maybe (but mostly I think it’s not). But regardless, I thought it was kinda cool that the film could appeal to everyone. The old Mad Max films are sorta grungy, low budget things (well, not the third one, I guess – that had a budget at the time) and they don’t largely have this kind of mass appeal, and I thought it was pretty cool that this forth film had something for everyone, while still maintaining its integrity to what came before.
(Well, it could have been a little more diverse, that said. For a film set in Australia, a lot of Australia was stripped out of it, and aside from the brief image of an indigenous man, which constitutes the whole of Australia in it, it could have been set in any desert in the world. Also, Zoe Kravitz, who I quite liked in the film, was a bit of a token representation.)
At any rate, this post sort of twisted into something other than what it was originally meant to be, but no matter. It’s a cool film – and it is a film to see in a cinema. Those films, I feel, are so rare these days – but Mad Max: Fury Road is a film that is a big and bold on the screen, and worth that experience, no matter what else is said about it.