The Long Wait for Mad Max: Fury Road
Dissecting the Trailer
25 years in the making, with production stop-starting over much of that time, Fury Road comes to us after an almost 30-year hiatus between chapters.With the original New South Wales location being ditched for Namibia, the 2003 shoots being aborted, and the Gulf War further delaying the film for another decade, filming finally started way back in 2011 only to be delayed again until 2012 because of the weather. Due to be released in 2013, yet more reshoots were called for, pushing the release date to 2015, and leaving the film simmering in post-production for almost 3 years. And this all with a budget which blew past its $100 million mark long ago.Fury Road certainly feels like director George Miller's very own Heaven's Gate production nightmare.Of course, these kinds of grand epics are relatively rare these days, ever since the likes of the aforementioned Cimino disaster and Coppola's own masterpiece, Apocalypse Now, threatened to bankrupt studios and drive the cast and filmmakers insane too. But occasionally we still get grand efforts beset by natural problems - Costner's Waterworld may not be revered like the others, but was similarly a studio-busting disaster-in-the-making, and shared a very Mad Max-at-sea vibe, to its credit. So does capturing an epic post-apocalyptic vibe bring filmmakers to the brink of an apocalypse themselves?
With the recent release of the first footage from the highly, perhaps even desperately, anticipated Fury Road, we reflect on the images that we've just seen and consider the right and the wrong that may be coming our way. Sometime in 2015. If it ever arrives, that is.
HUGE SPOILER WARNINGSI've purposefully avoided posting links to the Trailer because, if you're one of the lucky few that have managed to avoid the Trailer then I highly recommend that you leave it that way. It, as with many trailers these days, gives away far too much. But unfortunately, particularly for a much-delayed blockbuster with such a notoriously difficult production history, it's a necessary evil to show disbelievers that this is very much worth the wait. Which it does. Miller is back. Max is back. And Fury Road looks furious. For those who have seen the trailer, however, let's take a closer look at what it means.
Is this a sequel, prequel, middle-quel, reboot, or remake?
Well, nobody is willing to give a definitive answer to this question but, from the trailer, it looks like we've got one. This can't be a sequel to either The Road Warrior or Beyond Thunderdome because Max has his 'last of the V8 Interceptors' back. It also can't be a middle-entry sequel to the first movie because it shows his 'last of the V8 interceptors' getting totalled. Again.
Conclusion: a reboot/remake of sorts, which tries to tell another, new, tale of Max, incorporating many themes from the previous movies and also, no doubt, flashing back to a new version of the events seen in the original Max to show us how he got here. Indeed Miller already talked about 'reimagining Max for a new generation', and this, finally, is firm proof that that is exactly what he has done.
Are you sure it's not just a remake of The Road Warrior?
An understandable question when we consider the similarities - Max is beset by a street gang who chase him and, eventually, make him crash, destroying his vehicle and leaving him incapacitated. Captured and tortured, he looks like he, at first, suffers the same fate as those caught in The Road Warrior - who were tied to the front of posts on the Lord Humungus's vehicle - before breaking free and joining a band of rebel survivors who have their own vehicles. With the rumours billing this as 'one long chase movie' there's a strong argument for it to be just revisiting the final act of The Road Warrior.
Conclusion: There are enough new ideas, new characters and re-ordering of events for this to still feel fresh but, had it not been for the fact that director George Miller is back at the helm, I'm sure this would have been, perhaps unfairly, dismissed more readily as just an outright remake of 'the Best of Max'.
Just to clarify: Gibson's not in this, is he?
Over a decade ago they were still trying to get a Miller/Gibson sequel off the ground but, between his age, and him being an undisputed Hollywood outcast, that idea soon fell apart. It's a shame really, as Gibson was Max, and a sequel to one of his biggest franchises may have given his career a much-needed boost. Indeed, an older Max tale might have been interesting too. Alas rumours then turned to the potential for a Gibson cameo, but since this appears to be a reboot, having him return to pass the mantle wouldn't make any sense, and having him appear as somebody else (as was rumoured - he'd have a walk-on as a stranger) would just add insult to injury.
Conclusion: No Gibson, lead or cameo, with Hardy doing his own take on the character, who has the same clothes, car and even haircut, but hasn't yet shown what else he's bringing to Max. Still, Hardy is a master, so have hope that he'll bring something worthy to the table. Certainly from the trailer it's hard to tell if he's even sporting an accent - just a few words don't make it clear - but I like the brief thumbs-up nod, which is a nice Max-ish touch.
Is that CG I see? I thought Miller's Max team prided themselves on real stunts?
Well, yes, it's doubtful that the two-headed lizard which Max kills is real, and some CG must have been used to help de-limb Theron, but the stunts themselves look very real; very old school Max, with vehicles rolling and spinning and getting driven over, driven through and utterly decimated. If CG was used to assist these stunts, it's been done very tastefully. What's not so pleasant is the sandstorm, which does look utterly fake, complete with CG vehicles flying through the CG storm. It's a shame, really, as, given the authenticity of what's on offer in the rest of the trailer, this looks like it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Conclusion: Bone-crunchingly real stunts, epic carmageddom, but disappointing CG sandstorm. We can live with that though.
Hang on, did you say 'de-limb' Theron? Don't you mean de-hair her?
No, it would seem that those now-ancient images of a shaved-head Theron were nothing in comparison to what Miller really wanted to do to the actress, who is now missing a left arm, and has some bodged makeshift metal arm instead. It looked a little fake, to be fair, when they debuted it on magazine covers a few weeks back, but the footage in the trailer seems much more impressive.
Conclusion: Theron's hair is G.I. Jane-short, and she definitely sports a prosthetic arm. Indeed, with the painted-eyes makeup as well, they've done a great job at de-glaming her, far better than Snow White and the Huntsman, where the mirror was wrong, she was the fairest of them all.
So Max gets his car back then? Are you sure it's the same V8 Interceptor?
You're not going to let this go, are you? Clearly, in this alternate Max-verse, he hasn't lost his car yet. But clearly, also, that doesn't last for long. Indeed it's a personal sore point about having watched this trailer - I'm angry not that they revealed his car, but that they revealed its destruction, again. But I'm actually more angry about it being destroyed in the first place (or is that second place?). Seriously, drive like a girl are never going to insure Max at this rate.
Conclusion: It is called the last of the V8 Interceptors, but it's back, and clearly, from the trailer, the exact same car, right down to the way it rolls when it crashes. Sigh.
Is that a handgun Max is using? Has he lost his trusty sawn-off?
Well yes it looks like Max is fast-firing a semi-automatic - maybe a Glock 17? - whilst driving, as well as a more traditional Miller-verse rifle later on in the trailer. Perhaps this incarnation of Max has no sawn-off shotgun, or loses it during the crash, but there is hope for us as, during another nod to The Road Warrior, there's a quick shot of somebody picking through a small clutch of bullets, which looks to include a couple of shotgun shells.
Conclusion: Between the sight of shells and the fact that Max would be lost without his sawn-off, I still have hopes they bring it back.
Is that... Toecutter??
Yes, yes it is. Well, sort-of. Hugh Keays-Byrne - the man who played the lead villain from the very first Mad Max, Toecutter - is indeed returning to the Max-verse, and he looks set to reprise lead villain duties, complete with metal jaw!
Conclusion: Well, old Toecutter is barely recognisable behind the metal jaw, and goes by the name of Immortan Joe (one letter-change would have made his name much cooler) so it's clearly not the same character, but boy is it a nice nod to the original trilogy for Miller to bring back such a key player.
Isn't that the girl from one of the Transformers films?
Yup, it's Megan Fox's replacement, Rosie-Huntington Whiteley. Hopefully she won't sport a stupid accent. In fact, hopefully she won't open her mouth at all so we'll never find out. Indeed models-turned-actresses Zoe Kravitz (X-Men: First Class, Divergent), Abbey Cat and Riley Keough may give Rosie a run for her money. It seems Miller's picked some interesting genes here, with the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, and the grand-daughter of Elvis both along for the ride.
Conclusion: Don't be put off too much by the presence of Rosie, or the other wannabe model-actresses, particularly since it all depends upon what is required of them.
So what happened to the story of escorting a group of women safely across the desert wasteland?
Well I guess that's who the quartet of models are playing, as we can see from the trailer. It looks like Charlize Theron's character, Furiosa, who drives an Optimus-Prime-like truck, which has been kitted out like a War Rig, picks the girls up and tries to get them across the desert. The gang chasing them gets innovative in their attempts to kidnap the women though, using steel poles to grab them from above in what looks like one of the most imaginative stunts in the movie. We have to assume that Max and Furiosa will combine efforts to get them back, although, given the runtime, there is a very real possibility that some of that may be left for the sequel.
Conclusion: The story of escorting women across the wasteland has been circulating for years, and the evidence in the trailer speaks for itself.
What happened to Mad Max: Furiosa then?
There were once two scripts - Mad Max: Fury Road, and a sequel, Mad Max: Furiosa, which were due to be shot back-to-back. Now we get one movie, and, since the second project runs with the name of Theron's character in this film, Furiosa, it might not be that great a leap to think that the two stories were amalgamated. It's not the first time Warner have done this - they got the Wachowski's to combine their trilogy of Matrix ideas into the first Matrix movie and, only after its success, asked them to write two sequels (which must have been a confusing irony).
Conclusion: Hard to tell, at this stage, but with rumours still circulating about a further film, and maybe even a reboot 'trilogy', then there's no ruling out Furiosa being the next entry. Certainly, the buzz surrounding this one is immense, so I bet WB are trying to gear Miller up to do those sequels pronto, especially knowing that he takes a few decades to get going.
Are we excited?
There's is a hell of a lot to be excited about. Sure, the photoshop-tastic-posters leave a lot to be desired, and who really knows when it comes to big budget reboots which have been gestating in production hell for decades, but pretty-much everything from this trailer looks tremendous. Desert paint fireworks, massive full-metal-destruction, elaborate stunts, huge crashes, and Hardy's Max at the centre of it all, shooting, fighting, getting caught, getting free, getting back behind the wheel, and tearing up Fury Road.
Conclusion: HELL YES.
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