How do you like your post-apocalyptic nightmare? Hot or cold?
This month brings the release of Max: Max Fury Road on 3D Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, digital HD Ultraviolet, and DVD. We reviewed the 3D Blu-ray and found it to be one of the best of the converted 3D Blu-rays to come to Blu-ray from a pure quality of film standpoint. Story aside, 3D fans will have plenty of in-your-face explosions and old school 3D gags, like a steering wheel flashing out of the screen and into your lap, as well as other unexpected oddities–and a whole lot of bleak, ugly, and sand, in perfect clarity.
Nine behind-the-scenes featurettes accompany the home release, including Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road, Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels, The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa, The Tools of the Wasteland, The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome, Fury Road: Crash & Smash, I Am A Milker, Turn Every Grain Of Sand!, and Let’s Do This.
If you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road, trust your instincts and skip this one. If Fury Road is for you, you would have seen it in the theater already. As post-apocalyptic storytelling is concerned, Fury Road is thin and uninspired. As world-building goes, Fury Road adds nothing to the mythos in the original Mad Max and Road Warrior. It is less silly than Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, but Fury Road cries out for humor, or any other pleasantness of the third film in the series. When humor arrives it is absurd (the lead bad guy takes along a turbo-charged guitarist and over-sized timpani band) and reminds us we’re well outside the realm of any possible future reality. How did these repulsive creatures become leaders so soon after the downfall of today’s reality? How was a religion based on cars so quick to arrive in the same lifetime let alone the few years since the young star was a police officer in today’s world? The number of unanswered questions are endless. Writer/director George Miller, who directed each entry in the series, would have done better directing someone else’s story. This is definitely a “story” in need of a backstory, which is available in prequel comic books for those wanting to delve further into the “revisited” Mad Max universe.
Miller’s success is his ability to nicely copy the cinematography from epic scenery-laden films like those of the great John Ford–the technical production is top-notch (Oscar winner John Seale will likely net another Oscar nod for his efforts here). But Fury Road is nothing but a Western updated for an ugly future, one long “cowboy and Indians” race to escape the Indians, and one shorter race back to the fort again, and a B-Western at that. Sure, spiked and retooled 1960s and 1970s cars are inexplicably swapped for horses, but plenty of stuntwork is piled on as with the old Westerns. We see some similarities: instead of wise old men mentoring John Wayne how to avoid the noose, here it’s wise old women helping to save the day at film’s end. Miller’s other success is his selection of Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL to compose the film score–this is a rousing, pulse-pounding score worthy of a much better film.
Much has been said about a feminist bent achieved in Miller’s movie, but it’s hard to grasp when those being saved are the only actresses that look like supermodels in the show, including an introductory scene straight out of a Sports Illustrated photo-shoot immediately following a shot of oversized women slaves who are left behind. Sure, co-star Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa has a uniquely cool look as an underground railroad leader of sorts with a makeshift cyborg arm, but we don’t get enough of her–or anyone else’s–character development to decide who we should or shouldn’t be rooting for with the exception of X-Men: Days of Future’s Past’s Nicholas Hoult as a young henchman-turned good guy whose performance stands above the rest. The inclusion of Tom Hardy, in a poorly cast role similar to his performance as the incomprehensible Bane in The Dark Knight, seems an afterthought as the title character. But Furiosa on par with Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor? Not a chance.
For our money, two other recent films do post-apocalypse better. Sci-fi may just be more fun in general, but this year’s latest Terminator movie, Terminator: Genisys, is far more exciting and fun. And for those wanting a deeper dive into the psychology of an uncertain future (also taking place on a long ride to nowhere), check out 2013’s more imaginative and thought-provoking Snowpiercer, based on the French graphic novel by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, it tells the story of men trying to get from the back of a speeding train to the front in a frozen desolate future Earth.
For those that are fans of Mad Max: Fury Road from its theatrical release, you will definitely be pleased with the 3D Blu-ray release. Picture and sound quality are superb, although you will undoubtedly need to use the closed captioning to understand much of the dialogue. Adjusting for the explosions and engine revving for the right sound mix is impossible. I’ve no doubt many of the more clever lines were lost to the theater-going crowd, like a reference to “McFeasting”–a reference to a well-known Australian McDonald’s burger the “McFeast”.
You can get Mad Max: Fury Road available now here at Amazon.com.