Sunday, May 17, 2015

"Mad Max: Fury Road" Review: Beyond Thunderdumb

"Wait a minute. Didn't I wear something like this in 'The Dark Knight Rises'"?
Wow, the "Mad Max" reboot is dumb.

And fun. Let's not forget fun. Lots of action - crashes, special effects, things blowing up, etc. If that's what entertains you during Summer Blockbuster Season, then go see "Mad Max: Fury Road" and you won't be disappointed. You get two hours of nearly non-stop, heart-pounding, adrenalin-fueled ... dumbness.

The plot is simple. A one-armed Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is on a mission to lead a small band of escapees from the hellish Citadel as they search for The Promised Land (called The Green Place). Along the way, she forges an uneasy alliance with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy).

Some of the dumbness, in no particular order:

Dumbness No. 1: Furiosa and her crew are being pursued by the brutish leader of The Citadel, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and other warlords. But she never diverts from their route to sanctuary. In other words, she is leading Joe to The Green Place. So much for The Promised Land once Joe and his thugs arrive.

Not a desert mirage - Mad Max meets these beauties in "Fury Road."
Dumbness No. 2: Furiosa has fled The Citadel with a secret crew/cargo - Joe's Five Wives. And they just happen to be a gorgeous mix - a blonde, a redhead, a brunette, a woman whose nipples threaten to break through her top, etc. OK, maybe that's not so bad. The women, however, are impeccably clean. In a society where everyone - and I mean everyone - is covered with muck from head to toe, these women are scantily clad in white, yet free of dirt under their fingernails even after trekking across a desert, as well as through a dust storm and a swamp. Again, I'm not complaining about having beautiful women in a movie, but ...

Dumbness No. 3: As we all know, the world of the Mad Max movies is what you see when you look up "desolation" in the dictionary (I suppose I should update the saying to "what you see when you type 'desolation' into Google." Every resource is scarce and precious - water, gasoline and any trace of leftover technology. The characters seem to have forgotten this. They spend the entire two hours wasting water, gasoline, ammunition, destroying their vehicles, etc.

Dumbness No. 4: Hardy, of course, played Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises." The movies have something in common besides being loud and dumb. If you thought Bane's dialogue was difficult to understand, wait until you try to make sense of the Australian accents amid all the noise in "Mad Max." A cultural gap, perhaps, but I had an extremely difficult time following much of the dialogue.

Don't mess with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Just don't.
The best part of the film is that director George Miller and his crew give the movie a fascinating look. The Citadel, for instance, is a blend of human-powered giant gears and other imaginative technology that would make Terry Gilliam proud. Theron also offers an outstanding performance, giving her character depth. Hardy fits his role, but doesn't rise above the mediocre material.

And a bit of trivia for sci fi fans: yes, that is Melissa Jaffer (Utu-Noranti Pralatong from "Farscsape") as Keeper of the Seeds.

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