Mad Max Fury Road trailer – impressions

By Michael Vass | July 27, 2014

It’s been a while since I have been in action on the entertainment side of things, due to the hiatus for my run for Congress, but I thought the reboot of Mad Max would be a great place to jump back into the action.

Action is the name of the game in the trailer for this movie. There is lots of it. But before I say more, take a look at what George Miller has done.

Lots of post-apocalypse cars, speeding and crashing down roads. Tons of CGI effects. More than a few references to several core elements of the prior Mad Max films. So this should be a great film, right?

Probably not. How could I say this? Am I not seeing the same thing as everyone else? Yes and no.

Taking the trailer from the start, this is obviously a reboot of The Road Warrior. The world as we know it has ended and the 2 things everyone wants is water and gasoline. Degenerate gangs roam the roads and countryside seeking both and killing those they meet. Most of the time.

Our hero, in the trailer, is chased down and caught by the film’s bad guy gang. A pretty small gang compared to Road Warrior, but more than enough to take down Max. The gang is an odd mix of characters that do not convey the feeling of intimidation that Humongous immediately provided in the original film. Instead we get, apparently, a painted albino witch doctor – or at least that’s how it cam across to me.

These terrors of the road then proceed to tattoo Max, for reasons that must have occurred prior in the film. They then tie Max to a massively scaled down (compared to original film) lead vehicle, again for unknown reasons. The question that came to mind through all this is while it was interesting action to watch, why were they keeping Max alive? It they are such horrors, or so angry with him to chase him down (apparently for fuel the trailer seems to imply) what is the point? The film should answer this, but it stands out as a potential weak plot point of the movie – especially as the trailer implies that Max is in this state for an extended period of time.

There is a bluster of CGI effects and road chases, none of which seems very connected to anything. There is the tanker truck from the original, though Max is not driving. It seems unconnected to the original films purpose. It is also filled with several women – no men – most of whom look like they belong in a Greek sword and sandals film, at least at first glance.

In fact, the apparent main female lead – Charlize Theron – looks more like the original Mel Gibson Mad Max than Tom Hardy does. I caught myself wondering if this was another Hollywood pro-feminism revisioning that has been popular in reboots since the 70′s. Usually films that do that fall flat (the reboot of The Hitcher comes to mind but there are other examples).

Tom Hardy’s Max looks weak throughout the trailer. Other than the opening seconds, he is relegated to an unimpressive side character status and displays none of the foreboding or intimidating qualities of Gibson’s portrayal. Which makes me fear that this will be another revisioned film that wants to fix the originals lack of explanation on the motivations of the bad guy and a host of characters that no one remembers the name of (like Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot). If so, that is another negative, as why the bad guys are bad really doesn’t matter. The world and its rules have ended, and these are bad people doing bad things – what more do the audience need? How does knowing they miss their childhood teddy bear matter or affect the fact that they are dismembering strangers for gasoline?

As for Charlize Theron, in the trailer, she looks live a savior of the film. Definitely going for the Ellen Ripley image, she seems in charge and attuned to the savage nature of the world – as opposed to the other women surrounding her. The clash of the female character presentations is stark and jarring. But overall the trailer makes me wonder if the Mad Max of this film is in fact Mad Maxine. Which still might be good, but not what is being sold to audiences and therefore will result in disappointment and a bad movie.

The big sell in the Mad Max films has always been the cars and chases. This film definitely looks like it will fill the screen with a chase or several of them, but the scale is massively diminished and thus the impressiveness with it. 5 cars with one or 2 people chasing one person is a bad day, but the originals 20 cars filled to overstuffing with bad guys is a race for your life.

Worse, The cars in the trailer are bland. They lack the monsterous and vicious feel of the originals cars. In the trailer the cars feel like beaters with a really bad custom job, belonging more in a circus or demolition derby than killing machines driven by fanatics that are well past the edge of desperation and functionality.

Lastly, there is the look of the film. Oversaturated so much it kind of reminds me of Pitch Black. Washed out and devoid of details, and sadly the details really matter. Seeing the wind-burned faces and savage land weary faces that are wrinkled and scarred matters in this type of film. Given that the major bad guy leads looked ultra-clean in the original, still the generic masses made up for that. The original had a feeling, just from the look of it, that everyone was tired, beaten down, and stretched thin – from their clothes to the vehicles. The trailer make me feel like everyone just needs some sun-tan lotion and those UV glasses you see on infomercials. It doesn’t doesn’t make me feel like the world is bleak, just that the photographer picked the wrong lens for the film – which means I’m not connected to the film, another negative.

OK, I have to mention it. CGI. The go to effect of modern films that are hiding a lack of substance in the film itself. Yes the sandstorm and cave look cool. So does the lightning effect. But it also doesn’t look real. Not quite cartoonish, but definitely over the top. I don’t feel like I am in that world (though I am sure there will be 3-D versions of the film that will try to give that impression in these scenes) but watching someone’s bad description of a world that I have no connection with.

All of this may be fixed in the film itself. Maybe other trailers will add the things I feel are lacking, or questionable. But with the anticipation of this film, the first trailer was supposed to be the knock-out punch that sells the film. It doesn’t. But it does make me predict that this film will live up to none of the things that fans love about the original series.

For a different take on what the trailer means, I invite you to check out the thoughts of friends of mine, Epic Film Guys. They should have their comments soon, and they have interesting views on many films – I know because we have had long debates often.

Topics: Movie Previews and Reviews | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Mad Max Fury Road trailer – impressions”

  1. KR

    I’m glad someone else has noticed the hint at a feminist revision treatment. I am all for more strong lead female characters in hollywood BUT THIS IS MAD MAX!!! Please leave this one alone at least, feminists. It’s the apocalypse. He’s been a tough bastard up until now. Don’t castrate him to push the feminist agenda. There are so many strong female roles in sci fi already. Please leave MAX alone!
    (p.s. if I see a 5ft5in girl bring down a 6ft4in baddie with a single skinny wrist punch to the jaw, i’ll be sorely dissapointed. Please be realistic feminist peeps! ;)

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