What a lovely day indeed!
I don't even know where to start with Mad Max: Fury Road except to say that I wish every blockbuster was so richly detailed, visceral and exciting. This is pure, uncut, balls-to-the-wall cinema and it is unlike anything else you have ever seen. Director George Miller has crafted a career best film, which is really saying something considering the career in question. Seriously, the man is 70 years old (!) and he's crafted the type of film that looks like it was made by an energetic 28 year old and is also better than anything currently being made by such young and hungry filmmakers.
I could go on and on about the incomparable action sequences, the strong pacing and the rich, nuanced performances, but there's something else about Fury Road that sets it apart from every other modern blockbuster and it's the thing that elevates the film from being great to being an outright masterpiece. That thing is minimalism. There is an economy of story here to which more films should aspire. Make no mistake, Miller has created a uniquely detailed world and has considered every possible detail and eventuality. That crazy guy you've seen in the trailer with the flame-throwing guitar? His fucking name is The Doof Warrior. He may not have any dialogue and he may have only a minimal interaction with the story, but The Doof Warrior has a long character history as devised by Miller. And yet, none of it is on screen. It's left largely open to interpretation. This is literally true of every character, vehicle and location in the film. Everything has been mapped out and connected in Miller's head but he only reveals the absolute bare minimum of information needed to propel the story forward.
By eschewing long expository monologues or overly complex explanations, Miller allows the audience to fill in the gaps with their own imagination. He makes you work for it. Go see this movie with a group of friends and I guarantee you will all walk out of the theater not only with a dozen questions, but also with a dozen different answers to each of those questions. And yet, the film is in no way unsatisfying; you're left wanting more, but in the best way possible. Fury Road is a film that spurs long and fascinating conversations, whether it be about large scale thematic elements or something as small as "What about those guys on the stilts?" At the end of the day, there's no greater compliment I can pay a film.
My only regret is that we only got a chance to see the film once before we recorded this week's podcast. More than any film in recent memory, Fury Road will unquestionably reward repeat viewings. I could watch it ten times and discover something new every time. It's going to take me years to fully unpack this movie. But there's also value in what you come away with after the first show. Bart, Jamie, Jeff and I all do our best to wrap our heads around this mind-bending film as well as its three predecessors. We pick our favorite vehicles, we give ourselves warrior wasteland names, and we talk about that one time that George Miller almost made a Justice League movie.
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Next Week: Brad Bird's Tomorrowland!