“Big budget Ozploitation for the masses.”
Chances are that you’ve probably never ever heard of ‘Ozploitation’… and quite frankly we’d be surprised if you had. While it’s a term that has only gained momentum in the last few years, ‘Ozploitation’ (Australian exploitation) was typically any low-budget horror, comedy and action film made in Australia after the introduction of the R rating in the early seventies. You know, back when we as a nation told awesome yarns chock-full of naked shielas and break-neck action… rather than feel good stories about token minorities trying to survive in the cold, uncaring years of the Howard government. Cinematic classics like “Wake In Fright’, ‘The Cars That Ate Paris’, ‘Stone’, and ‘Razorback”. Oh boy, we’re getting a semi just thinking them. So when we found out that our favourite rogue Aussie cop was about to return to the big screen for the first time in three decades, we began salivating at the prospect. But did this latest instalment match our nostalgia?
Set after the events of Beyond Thunderdome, Fury Road takes place in a stark desert landscape ruled by rival factions, where order can only be restored by two rebels: Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.
Sounds pretty straightforward? Well, let’s be honest – there’s never much of a plot when it comes to Mad Max movies. You’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all – and Fury Road is no exception. In a nutshell, Max stumbles upon a region ruled by three rival warlords, each of whom control a different resource: water, gasoline, and bullets. Pretty standard so far? Things start to get hairy for our lead when Furiosa, Immortan Joe’s right-hand woman, decides to steal a bunch of his breeders along with a few thousand litres of gasoline to buy safe passage back to her homeland (the Green Zone). Cue two hours of Max and friends driving a giant truck in a straight line, all the while fighting-off hordes of crazy rev-head nut jobs in even crazier gas-guzzling vehicles…
Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.
Okay, so the way we figure it, there are three distinct camps of folk who are going to drop their hard-earned on Fury Road: people who love Mad Max and want more of the same, people who don’t mind Mad Max but want something more than campy 80’s clichés and non-stop car chases, and people who weren’t alive in the 80’s. For those of you who love Mad Max, we’ll save you the hassle of reading this steaming load and say that Fury Road is Mad Max through and through. Think of it as a big-budget, modern remake of Road Warrior but with non-stop action, better acting and less of the campy influence. Honestly, don’t even continue reading – just go and see it!
So that was the easy part – now onto everyone else. Being in the ‘we want something more’ camp ourselves, we have to admit that we were kind of underwhelmed with this one. For a movie that isn’t a reboot, rather a continuation of the series, we went into Fury Road both curious and excited to see what George Miller had up his sleeve after thirty years of being away from the helm. What had he dreamed-up for our crazy Aussie anti-hero? That, and we were thrilled to see what Miller could do when he had a considerable budget behind him. Honestly, the sky was the limit for Fury Road. But instead of the perfect storm, it feels like we were given a rehash, albeit a superior one, of something we’ve seen before… namely The Road Warrior.
Again, it’s not to say that Fury Road was bad – in fact, it was a great effort for a Max Max movie. Actually, in many regards it may go down as the best to date. Having recently gone back and rewatched The Road Warrior, it’s no stretch to say that in terms of sheer thrills and action, Fury Road is utterly superior in just about every way. The crazy post-apocalyptic characters return, the stunts are completely insane and some of the best we have seen on screen in a long time, and almost every facet of the production is testament to how much George Miller has grown as a filmmaker over the last three decades. Oh and that soundtrack… and the doof mobile. Rock out with your unwashed cock out! Hmm, it almost sounds like we enjoyed Fury Road? Don’t get us wrong, we did. It’s just that we were wanting something more than non-stop car chases and infinite desert… we also wanted more in terms of storyline.
We wanted something… different.
We didn’t necessarily want Thunderdome ‘different’, because that was pretty shithouse, but we did want to be taken somewhere that got us excited. Not two hours of open desert. Thirty years, George – that’s probably a figure greater than the average age of your typical moviegoers – and that was the best you could come up with in terms of story advancement? Maybe that’s the fundamental problem with any series set in post-apocalyptic universe – especially one set in such a sparse and barren as that of Mad Max? There’s nothing out there. And frankly, along with the landscape, the premise feels like it might be getting thinner by the outing. Sure, if you’re into deep-thinking then you can probably construct your own take on the story… i.e. each of our rival warlords represent a Horseman of the Apocalypse and Max is Death… blah blah… but when you boil it down, there really wasn’t anything to write home about. In fact, you could say that Fury Road as a whole is more about Furiosa and her female companions than Mad Max.
Hell, in hindsight they could have dropped the entire Max Max moniker altogether and just called it Fury Road – write out Max completely. At least then we’d feel a little less, well, dudded. But hey, at least Warner Brothers have tested the waters with Fury Road and know that there’s an audience for this sort of gear… so you can guarantee at least a couple more Mad Max movies in the near future. It’s got to be better than another Transformers movie, right? All we can hope is that Miller carries on with the momentum of Fury Road and delivers some new and interesting stories. Wow us.
Outside of the story, our biggest gripe with Fury Road would have to be with the acting. While we weren’t expecting Oscar-quality, we did have high hopes for our two leads: Hardy and Thereon. Especially Hardy. He’s a solid actor who we figured would breathe some life into the character of Max Rockatansky, you know, to go along with that whole new and interesting direction that we assumed the story was going to take. Again we were left wanting in that department too. While Theron did a solid-enough job, the casting of Hardy was a mystery. Between how little focus Max was given and his lack of dialogue… oh, and Hardy’s inability to hold an accent for more than a third of a movie, we wondered what the point was. As much as we love the guy, we get the feeling that Miller should have went with an actual Aussie like Sam Worthington or Eric Bana over Hardy.
Would it really have hurt the box office that much?
Overall, Fury Road is Mad Max through and through. It takes everything fans loved about the originals, polishes it, and then turns it up to eleven with two hours of adrenalin-filled action and chaos. With that said, if you aren’t in love with Max and you were hoping that this movie might take the franchise into unchartered territory, at least in terms of story, then you are probably going to remain indifferent.
The A.D.D. Version:
Fury Road is Mad Max through and through. It takes everything fans loved about the originals, polishes it, and then turns it up to eleven with two hours of adrenalin-filled action and chaos. With that said, if you aren’t in love with Max and you were hoping that this movie might take the franchise into unchartered territory, at least in terms of story, then you are probably going to remain indifferent.
- Despite petrol being extremely rare, everyone drives V8’s?
- The chrome paint was a nice touch.
- Where the hell was Bruce Spence?
- Do any shotguns work in post-apocalyptic Australia?
- What happened to Max’s leg brace?
See This Film If You Like:
- Mad Max
- Mad Max 2
- Mad Max 3 (just joking)
- A Boy And His Dog
- The Rover
The YouSeenThat.Com Popcorn Rating:
A must-see for the fans!