Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

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feihong
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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#126 Post by feihong » Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:26 am

So now that the fan furor for this movie has really dialed down, I have to admit I'm completely perplexed by the way people embraced this movie as quite so remarkable. As far as the film itself, I was not impressed by the amount of story, character, the complexity of thematic concerns, etc. I didn't find myself invested in characters or outcomes of fights. I thought the look of the film, which people who talk movies on youtube routinely declaim to be astoundingly beautiful, was off–putting. In general, I found the performances and the mis-en-scene off–putting. The centered framing was especially monotonous, but the duo-and tri-tonal color palette seemed a disappointing choice to me (that was something invigorating and imaginative in Tsui Hark's The Blade, but here it contributed to a general narrowness which I found frustrating). I enjoyed the tussle between Max and Furiosa and Nux on the sand, which reminded me of the fun and play of 80s/90s Hong Kong movies. I don't recall anything else in the film that moved me any which way, at all.

I just saw Red Letter Media's review of The Road Warrior, which is why this is fresh in my mind, and I went on a quick little tour of internet people comparing the two movies. The Red Letter Media people were convinced that Fury Road outshone The Road Warrior, and a lot of the internet is pretty convinced of this, as well. I can't see how that could be. The Road Warrior has tension and suspense––the fates of individual characters had real weight, even though we hardly knew these people. The Road Warrior sets of stakes and situations that seem to matter. And the physical reality of the world figures into the schema of The Road Warrior. When things crash, they fly through the air with real weight and when cars disintegrate, they do so in astoundingly raw and believable ways. What makes those original Mad Max and Road Warrior car stunts so remarkable is looking at them and knowing they did them for real, and I'm less sure of that in Fury Road. The stunts themselves also seem to lack a sense of innovation in the new movie. Honestly, the earlier film just recalls to me a time when you could still make people the focus of an action scene––when sweat and exertion were elements of an action scene that factored into its conclusion. I feel as if I can remember action movies where fun obstacles included things like, you know, a chain-link fence. Could the cop climb the fence after chasing the crook for 6 blocks? There used to be movies that made real challenges out of such intimate–scaled obstacles. And in those worlds of the imagination it was human beings and their humanity which mattered at the end of the day, hopefully. But I think Fury Road is in this new frame of the action movie where mayhem erupts constantly, but nobody gets hurt.

I don't know just why I'm complaining, exactly, except that the praise for this movie seems so enormously unanimous, and I think people are not really making any kind of critical comparison between this film and other action films; between this film and predecessors, even. If they are making the comparison, I think they are confusing faster with better, for the most part. This movie is perhaps harder–pounding and full of more––more characters, more "world-building (I can hardly stand that word and what it seems to represent for millenials)," constant action, more crazy, etc. But it was the minimalism of The Road Warrior as much as any other factor which made for a compelling experience. The aesthetic was true––you could reach back into the real world and see the roots of it. The blistering roads of the outback in the Road Warrior were in and of themselves overwhelming. The desert in the new movie looks made on computer––even if plenty of it was real. The breakdown of society in The Road Warrior––people losing language, losing reference points (Lord Humongous' cliche–ridden speech and manner of dress is something no one seems to regard as quite hackneyed enough for modern eyes and ears)––is compelling in its very minimal details. There are things to think about, and there is even a kind of sadness in that breakdown that pervades that earlier picture. In Fury Road everything just seems crazy. I find myself increasingly disturbed by these kind of incongruities, and increasingly sidelined in that role of the grousing old dude crying "the original was better!." But I feel so alienated by so much of modern movies, and the near–universal praise and appreciation for this movie really underlines that for me. Human affairs seem a very small consideration in Fury Road––and in a lot of modern crowd–pleasing movies in general––and I can't really place when that change set it.

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Roscoe
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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#127 Post by Roscoe » Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:10 am

Feihong -- you're not alone. We should start a support group.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#128 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:19 am

I was a bit perplexed too - it's not even my favorite Mad Max film either, not by a wide margin - but at least I enjoyed it as spectacle.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#129 Post by Roscoe » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:59 am

I saw someone refer to its "soulful humanism" which is the point when I stopped even discussing the film -- it's clear that I'm outside the fan base on this one.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#130 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:29 am

I won't deny there are elements of humanism and many other things it's been praised for, but a lot of that praise is being way too generous given that there are many other films that are far more profound explorations of the same concepts. I'm sorry, but as much as I've enjoyed Mad Max in general, it isn't for humanism on the scale of Jean Renoir.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#131 Post by Big Ben » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:58 am

I thought people watched Mad Max for fun and not for...high art. I must confess to being confused by people's expectations of it.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#132 Post by captveg » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:15 pm

I don't think it's the level/degree of humanism that is impressive, but rather the conveyance of humanism through action and spectacle. As a big fan of the film and other recent tentpole blockbuster style films with "high minded" themes (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Inception), it's more the combination of these elements with the skilled action craftsmanship that elevates such films.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#133 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:17 pm

Big Ben wrote:I thought people watched Mad Max for fun and not for...high art. I must confess to being confused by people's expectations of it.
It's been treated as high art, that's the issue. If it was merely everyone saying "Fuck Star Wars, go see Mad Max," I'd be on the same page.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#134 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:20 pm

captveg wrote:I don't think it's the level/degree of humanism that is impressive, but rather the conveyance of humanism through action and spectacle. As a big fan of the film and other recent tentpole blockbuster style films with "high minded" themes (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Inception), it's more the combination of these elements with the skilled action craftsmanship that elevates such films.
To be brutally honest, with some of those other films, I can't say I was all that moved by what was clearly an attempt to convey those qualities. Just to take Inception as an example, the tragedy behind DiCaprio's marriage never really gets under my skin.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#135 Post by captveg » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:26 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
captveg wrote:I don't think it's the level/degree of humanism that is impressive, but rather the conveyance of humanism through action and spectacle. As a big fan of the film and other recent tentpole blockbuster style films with "high minded" themes (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Inception), it's more the combination of these elements with the skilled action craftsmanship that elevates such films.
To be brutally honest, with some of those other films, I can't say I was all that moved by what was clearly an attempt to convey those qualities. Just to take Inception as an example, the tragedy behind DiCaprio's marriage never really gets under my skin.
Well, no film is gonna work for everyone. For example, Interstellar left me rather cold in that regard even if it has a couple thrilling sequences.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#136 Post by RossyG » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:07 pm

I was also baffled by the high regard. The film looks great, but I thought the second film was way better.

(And I thought Interstellar thought it was more intelligent and profound than it actually was.)

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#137 Post by MichaelB » Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:32 am

What Mad Max: Fury Road looks like without any CGI.

Surprisingly similar, it turns out.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#138 Post by bakofalltrades » Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:50 am

Wow! I think I'd have preferred the bleached and dusty look of the undoctored footage. Some of those shots look really beautiful to me.

Ultimately, I found myself won over by the film, but the overly saturated look of it remains a minor sticking point for me. (Sorry if "saturated" isn't the right term for what I'm referring to.)

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#139 Post by tenia » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:48 pm

MichaelB wrote:What Mad Max: Fury Road looks like without any CGI.

Surprisingly similar, it turns out.
I thought I saw this somewhere earlier and indeed : this simply is an extra feature that was included on the Sept 1st 2015 Blu Ray release.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#140 Post by captveg » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:40 pm

The "Black and Chrome" release is scheduled for 12/6

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#141 Post by MoonlitKnight » Sun Nov 20, 2016 1:04 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Big Ben wrote:I thought people watched Mad Max for fun and not for...high art. I must confess to being confused by people's expectations of it.
It's been treated as high art, that's the issue. If it was merely everyone saying "Fuck Star Wars, go see Mad Max," I'd be on the same page.
I'm really not liking this new trend of popcorn flicks like this trying to be both a sequel and a franchise reboot at the same time (especially considering Max really isn't the central character of this movie; Furiosa is, and, therefore, Max could've been any random guy) -- "Jurassic World" and "The Force Awakens" being other examples of the same thing. How about just picking one or the other? The more the lines are blurred, the messier these franchises become, IMO.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#142 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:06 am

I don't know if it's high art (I though that the Best Picture nomination was a little much), but I think there's a surprising amount of artistry to it. The sheer vision and momentum of the film are pretty extraordinary. The screenplay is minimalist, but rich in detail, there is a bit of interesting subtext (survivalism, redemption, feminism, reclaiming and repairing vs. rebuilding), and the aesthetics are stunning: cool blues, bright reds, amazing vehicle designs and costumes. It's not The Seventh Seal, but it's exhilarating entertainment with a subtly subversive edge and more depth than its surface would suggest.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#143 Post by Big Ben » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:27 am

I agree. I do think there is a great deal of artistry to it. It isn't Ingmar Bergman but it cemented my belief that more mainstream fair hasn't become a a complete soulless husk. Fury Road was one of my favorites from 2015 because of this. I look forward to seeing what Miller does next.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#144 Post by Feiereisel » Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:11 pm

Agreed! Is it also possible that the film's willingness to shut up is perceived and misconstrued as a lack of substance? Or a misreading of clarity as pejorative simplicity? For all its visual insanity, Fury Road is as cleanly constructed as a classical Western. Call it Punk Stagecoach, Wasteland Rio Bravo...Miller deftly applies the symbolic properties of the wild frontier to an apocalyptic wasteland.

This need to obsessively contextualize isn't inherently worthless, but it moves the discussion away from the content of the film itself. As I was walking out of one the screenings of Fury Road I attended, I heard a couple of people trying to figure out how it fits into chronology of the other films, as if it had any significant bearing on the film itself. The "Max was there, now he's here, and he's going to go there, and now we're done," is depressingly mathematical, like a Kaspar Hauser-style autopsy.

Reboot, continuation--it can be argued either way, but does little to the film other than obscure it. Pick one of the subtexts astutely outlined a couple posts up--
hanshotfirst1138 wrote:(survivalism, redemption, feminism, reclaiming and repairing vs. rebuilding)

--use it as a viewing lens and have a field day. Even a film like Star Wars, which nimbly threads eye of the reboot/continuation needle, doesn't sing like this one does.

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Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#145 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:01 pm

I don't really think that the whole reboot/sequel discussion matters much in this case. You basically get all of the necessary expository information in the first 60 seconds: post-apocalyptic world, Max has insane driving skills, everyone needs to violently survive-and that's pretty much it. You can argue if it's a sequel or a prequel or a reboot if you want, but I don't really think it's that important. You can enjoy the movie's rich world as entirely self-contained.
Feiereisel wrote:Agreed! Is it also possible that the film's willingness to shut up is perceived and misconstrued as a lack of substance? Or a misreading of clarity as pejorative simplicity? For all its visual insanity, Fury Road is as cleanly constructed as a classical Western. Call it Punk Stagecoach, Wasteland Rio Bravo...Miller deftly applies the symbolic properties of the wild frontier to an apocalyptic wasteland.
A thousand times this. As someone who loves action films, in the age of Michael Bay's incomprehensibly scattershot chaos or CGI orgies of Marvel's Avengers movies, Miller's cleanly shot action sequences are exhilarating, spatially coherent, and have a weight and physicality that action films have lacked severely in recent years.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#146 Post by Big Ben » Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:09 pm

I've read that Miller considers them campfire tales. His meaning being that these can take place at anytime and that they're just stories that will be told and retold. They essentially mythologize Max and his adventures. When taken into context I think this explanation makes the most sense and gives some needed perspective on how Miller sees his own work.

In short it doesn't matter much when they take place in the chronology or who portrays Max himself.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#147 Post by RossyG » Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:34 pm

I just wish they'd chosen a "screen presence" rather than a (very good) character actor for the lead. Mad Max isn't a character for an actor to get his teeth into. He's an archetype.

Replacing Gibson was always going to be difficult, but I don't think Hardy was the right choice. I was much more interested in Furiosa and Nux than in the titular character.

I re-watched it this week; first time since I saw it theatrically. My thoughts on it haven't changed as a result. It's visually stunning, set in a fun world and with amazing stunts, but looks a bit too artificial when compared with the other films. And the camera doesn't love Hardy the way it did Mel. I think Gibson had fewer lines in Mad Max 2 than Hardy does in Fury Road, but he had a far bigger presence.

Like the first two - and unlike the weak Beyond Thunderdome - this is a western with cars. But while in the first two, Max was the lone gunman who rides into Dodge to either avenge his family or help the victimised homesteaders, here he doesn't really do anything that Furiosa or Nux couldn't have done.

It's the redundancy of the lead character that unbalances this film, in my opinion.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#148 Post by krnash » Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:09 pm

RossyG wrote:I just wish they'd chosen a "screen presence" rather than a (very good) character actor for the lead. Mad Max isn't a character for an actor to get his teeth into. He's an archetype.

Replacing Gibson was always going to be difficult, but I don't think Hardy was the right choice. I was much more interested in Furiosa and Nux than in the titular character.

I re-watched it this week; first time since I saw it theatrically. My thoughts on it haven't changed as a result. It's visually stunning, set in a fun world and with amazing stunts, but looks a bit too artificial when compared with the other films. And the camera doesn't love Hardy the way it did Mel. I think Gibson had fewer lines in Mad Max 2 than Hardy does in Fury Road, but he had a far bigger presence.
I think you're missing the point entirely. "Max" is a crutch to get action movie junkies into the seats; the women are the heroes of this movie, refreshingly, and what's wrong with that? This was never intended as a remake of the Mel Gibson film, and I believe it's pretty widely believed (even director-stated?) that this Max is not the same character as Gibson's. If you were more interested in Furiosa and Nux, then it sounds like George Miller's experiment in action movie revolution worked for you.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#149 Post by RossyG » Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:53 pm

But I'm a Max Rockatansky fan. I wanted to see him back and felt short-changed. Why drag him into it if the focus is elsewhere? Why not just have Furiosa and Nux? There was no dramatic reason to have Max, really.

I don't think being disappointed by a bait and switch (for want of a better expression) done for commercial reasons is "missing the point". I'd have watched a "set in Max's world but without Max" film just as happily as I'll watch Rogue One despite there being no Luke or Han in it. But if you call a film Mad Max, then it should have Max in the same front and centre role he got in the other three. If you see a Bond film, you don't expect 007 to be third fiddle.

I'd also disagree that "the women" were the stars. Furiosa was, but the brides were pretty forgettable. And the idea that a female lead in an action film is refreshing isn't really the case. The Alien, Underworld, Hunger Games and Lara Croft franchises were led by women as are the new Star Wars films and women play strong roles in Terminator, Avengers and DC films.

I wish this was called Furiosa: Fury Road with Max removed altogether. I'd have probably liked it better.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#150 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:24 pm

I guess I just don't understand why it's such a struggle for people to see the power balance that the film struck without being pre-warned in the marketing that Max wouldn't be in the spotlight and in charge the whole time. What difference does that make?

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