Mad Max: A Retrospective for a first timer to the series.

  

Prior to the month of May 2015, I had never seen a single film in the Mad Max franchise. I’ve always known of the series and its impact, I just never got around to them. 

Then came the trailers for the fourth film, Mad Max: Fury Road. From first glance it certainly looked exciting, yet since I had no familiarity with the series, if I didn’t see it, no big deal. Sometime in April I got Mad Max on Blu-Ray from my local FYE for $5. I figured why not? It sat on my shelf still unopened in its plastic. One day while waiting for the train to go to work it was available for streaming on the Comcast Xfinity app and I attempted to watch it while on the train. Yet I noticed that I can’t watch a movie piece by piece of it’s something I had never seen before. So I resolved to go home and watch Mad Max which I did on a Sunday morning. Presented here is what my initial thoughts were after watching each film.

Mad Max 

 The origin of the man who would become the Road Warrior is quite the economical film. I can’t believe so much was told in this film with so little. The action is hard-hitting and the stunts are top notch. We see Max as a family man and his role patrolling the highways. I always knew the series was dystopian in its setting, yet in this first film there is still some semblance of society. As the film goes you do notice with Max that he is a little disillusioned and by the end of the film we will no longer know Max Rockatansky and be introduced to Mad Max.

Mad Max 2- The Road Warrior 

 I got this in a 2 Pack DVD along with the third film when I was out of work for a day due to illness. I had always heard great things about The Road Warrior, its action, cinematography and expansive world building. Again Miller does not only much with little, he does more. Time has passed since Mad Max and all we know is that the world has almost completely fallen. That’s what I love about this franchise, it’s George Miller’s worldbuilding without any explanation. It allows the viewer to fill in the gaps and honestly it’s kind of refreshing to not have too many fan discussions of canon and holes in the internal logic. It’s all about what we see. There is very little dialogue in the film again making us watch what’s on the screen. It is a better film than Mad Max and other than a silly villain, it makes for a terrific action film either as part of the series or totally on its own.

 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 

 I watched this back to back with The Road Warrior and honestly I’m glad I did. I had always heard that this was the worst of the series and while it certainly has the least going on, it does have some good elements. One thing I loved about this was Max coming across a group of survivors who basically did not need his help. Bartertown, is pretty self sufficient and it makes me wonder how did they manage to have a form of functioning society. This is another decent piece of world building. The biggest fault is that the second half becomes a prime example of when the Hollywood machine sticks its hands in the project. Max gets involved with the struggle of a group of children. The issue is not that it’s children in the story per se, but rather that it slows the story to a crawl for me and the interesting first half becomes a distant memory. Plus as much as I love the work of Tina Turner, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) feels really out of place. This was a Hollywood movie rather than a George Miller movie.

Mad Max Fury Road 

 For more on what I thought about Mad Max Fury Road check out the DeaconsDen Review. I will say this, this movie is an experience that I was glad to take part of. It was great to cap off my introduction to Max and his world with this brilliant action film.

For a series that I knew of and never seen, I had no expectations for what I would experience. The Mad Max franchise is one that is easily assessable and enjoyable. I look forward to what this franchise has to offer down the line as long as Miller does what he does best.

Also check out the DeaconsDen coverage of the Mad Max series see these links:

Comics Review: Nux & Immortan Joe

Comics Review: Furiosa

Review: Mad Max Fury Road


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Comics Review – Mad Max Fury Road: Furiosa

   

 
This is the second of Mad Max Fury Road prequel comics that further flesh out the events of the recent film. The focus of this second issue is on protagonist Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in the movie.

The issue begins like the previous with the historian recounting events. It first covers Immortan Joe selecting his Five Wives for breeding. Furiosa comes into the picture when she is tasked by Joe to watch out for the young women and protect them from his brute of a son Rictus. Furiosa says very little in this issue. Most of the focus is on the Five Wives and Joe’s treatment of them. We’re given no new information on her character, nothing that hasn’t already been told in the film. This issue should have been titled Furiosa and the Wives since they have most of the spotlight. The issue ends with their escape that is in the first act of the film.

Just like the first issue, I’m not a major fan of the art style. It at times can have too many lines and blacks for my tastes. But it does fit with this world and I can never stop praising the worldbuilding that George Miller does. Yet for this issue there isn’t much of that as it covers mostly events of the film more than the larger world.

Final Rating (3/5) Same issues with art style. Also not as focused on Furiosa as I expected. No new developments that weren’t already in the film.
Check out more of the DeaconsDen coverage of the Mad Max franchise:

Nux & Immortan Joe

Mad Max Fury Road Review

Mad Max: Fury Road – Nux and Immortan Joe

  

 
This is the first in a series of comics dedicated to providing some backstory to the characters of Mad Max: Fury Road. They will be released over the summer and as each issue is released I will cover each one. By time this first issue came out I had not seen the movie yet. I wasn’t sure how much info in the comics would be in the film so I didn’t want to spoil anything for myself. This does nothing of the sort, so if you want to read this first you can. I do however recommend that you see the film first then follow up with these comics as it just further adds to the experience.

The stories are framed with a character called a wordburger, who has words written all over his body. This actually is very intriguing as he explains that those like him are responsible for keeping what written word there still is remaining in the world as most of it was burned. Just more great world building to George Miller’s excellent story. 

The first part of the book covers the backstory of Nux. The War Boy played by Nicholas Hoult in the film. We see his early childhood and it fleshes out his character as his search for his father leads him to Immortan Joe and how he got his nickname.

The bulk of the story is dedicated to the warlord Immortan Joe. Joe is a veteran of the wars of this world’s past who made an incredible stand to take over an aquifer that would become his base of operations. No one seems to truly know what happened when he took it over which adds to his legend as being immortal.

This issue is 34 pages and moves along at a great pace. Having seen the movie I wanted more which could have contributed to going through it. The artwork is nothing special. Not bad, but it doesn’t really stand out. I do love the cover however.

This was a nice first issue for this miniseries to continue fleshing things out in the Mad Max universe. I am excited for the other issues covering Furiosa and Max.

Final Rating: (4/5) Main knock is for artwork not standing out

For more DeaconsDen coverage on Mad Max check out these links

Comics Review: Furiosa
Review: Mad Max Fury Road

Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

  

The fourth film in the series created by Austrailan director George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road holds nothing back. 

Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) replaces Mel Gibson as Road Warrior Max Rockatansky. The film begins with Max being captured by the War Boys, the personal army of tyrant Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played villain Toecutter in the original Mad Max). Max is used as a blood bag since he is a universal doner for Nux (Nicholas Hoult).  

 Joe and his army is in pursuit of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Furiosa has absconded with Joe’s prized breeders also know as the Five Wives (ZoĆ« Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee Kershaw and Courtney Eaton).

The plot is pretty much a chase movie from start to finish. It doesn’t really stand out. This film is a story about a world. A world that George Miller has expertly kept adding to its lore and mythology since 1979. We don’t know how the world got this way, but it feels like we know as much as the characters do. 

This is one of the more character focused action films since Aliens. It is through them that we as viewers understand this wasteland that we are presented with. Even though he is the title character, Max is not the primary focus. Then again in every post-Mad Max film he rarely is. The films tend to focus on how Max drifts in and out of the lives and struggles of others. We feel for Max because he simply is trying to survive. Nothing more, nothing less.

Furiosa on the other hand, mentions that she is looking for redemption and even though she breaks the wives out from Immortan Joe’s grasp, you wonder what happened to this woman that she seeks to right her wrongs.

  
Even as the main antagonist, Immortan Joe is intriguing as well. While he may be presented as a tyrant, warlord and man who sees women as property, Miller provides just enough nuance to make me wonder what does a man have to do to hold on to that kind of power? He keeps the wives as his breeders, but since they will bring forth his progeny, there is some sentiment he feels toward them, even if it’s by proxy because they carry his children. 

 

Now I know all the reviews praise the character of Furiosa and both the character and Theron’s acting deserve every bit of it. Yet for me my favorite character is Nux.

  

As the story begins, Nux is like most warriors. Reveling for the opportunity to die in battle. We don’t get his particular backstory, but most likely as a War Boy he was only shown one way. Once he has spent time with Max, Furiosa and the Wives, he is shown another way and his growth really shines. A them of the film is the return of hope and Nux’s transformation is an example of that.

I love Miller’s world building here. It gives us both everything and nothing at the same time. Then we get a hint of something that may or may not explain something but we viewers fill in the blanks. This quality runs into his filmmaking as well. Giving us moments where we don’t have to see things to know what happened. A standout scene for me was a moment where Max heads out at night retrieve supplies. We hear an explosion and he comes back. This was brilliantly filmed. Miller knows that we know that Max was gonna succeed so why waste time with a fight at that point in the film? We knew he would win.

Of course I can’t finish without discussing the superb action scenes. 

  So much vehicular carnage and not an ounce of CGI. Or at least any bit that I could obviously see. One thing that I loved about not only this film but the entire series is that Miller can convey something brutal and we feel it without it resulting to be either over the top gore or malicious. People are shot, blown up, run over and you don’t have to turn away from the screen.

My final thought is that Mad Max: Fury Road a perfect evolution of the action films of the 1980s. It’s hard to believe that George Miller could be away from this for so long and bring it back better than ever. This should be seen. Plain and simple. This is a spectacle that deserves to be seen on the big screen. 

Final Rating 5/5 

   

For more DeaconsDen coverage on Mad Max check out these links:

Comics Review: Nux & Immortan Joe
Comics Review: Furiosa