Henry is about to become a daddy, so we felt we had to get him a chance to show a pair of films before he disappears from the social scene forever. As always, Henry starts with a Looney Tunes short, in this case “Duck Amuck”, an amusing break-the-fourth-wall ditty wherein Daffy endures all sorts of abuse from the animator. I don’t think it’s on YouTube, but let’s see if DailyMotion will embed…
But of course, we also need a feature presentation, and this time Henry came with Mad Max: Fury Road, the 2015 reboot of the former Mel Gibson franchise directed by George Miller, who (looking him up) just happens to be the guy who directed the three “original” films. I…did not know that. I guess that makes some sense but I was not expecting it. And I need to admit, right now, that I haven’t actually watched any of the originals. Basically all I know about them is that we don’t need another hero, and this:
So I’m not really in position to analyze how this film stacks up to the others in the series. But I sure as heck can treat it on its own. I think the first and foremost thing that can be said for Fury Road is that it has an incredible quantity of idiosyncratic style. So let’s set up the movie:
This is…erm…his name is…The Bad Guy. He’s the tracheally-challenged despot of a large, dusty, and dirty clan of war-boys and toothless peasants in a parched and post-apocalyptic Australia – the kind of national-government free society that stands as a Voluntaryist’s wet dream until they realize how much it totally sucks to be ruled by warlords and they retreat back to Libertarianism. There would appear to be three major clans in this orange new world – Bullettown, Gastown, and the Citadel. I think we can guess which assets are controlled by the first two – but our Citadel’s commodity is water.
Seeing as everybody is really, really short on water, our bad guy sees fit to occasionally dump massive quantities of it out into the desert to taunt his thirsty peasants. This is an incredibly inefficient – even dare I say wasteful – delivery method that would never be tolerated in a democratic society or even in one governed by the basic rules of capitalism. But warlords? They do whatever they want.
This is Imperator Furiosa. Furiosa was kidnapped by the Citadel at a young age, and she has made her way up to be one of the more important people in the clan. As bearing a lot of responsibility, she gets to do stuff like lead supply runs out to Gastown.
However, it turns out that on the supply run Furiosa is leading at the beginning of the film, she’s carrying more precious cargo than just water. She’s secretly smuggling the five most beautiful women left in the world, who have been incorporated as breeders in The Bad Guy’s harem because they made it through childhood still having all of their teeth. Furiosa, who is on her own on this one, intends to take the breeders to the legendary Green Place, somewhere in the east, where Furiosa grew up. It’s kind of a knuckleheaded plan, because you’d think if there actually were a Green Place that somebody would have found it by now. Oh, also because she is bound to be pursued by the full fury of the Citadel once Trachea-Boy figures out his chicks have flown the coop.
This is Max. Max is an unaffiliated drifter who has been captured by the Citadel and as an O-Neg individual is currently serving as a “blood bag” – a living IV drip system for an ill and blood-deficient War Boy. See, this is what happens to a Voluntaryist when the war clans take hold. They don’t get to enter into mutually-agreed-upon contracts with others unfettered by government interference. They get killed or enslaved by the people with the guns and other assets for not kowtowing to power.
And this, this is a War Boy, specifically the blood-deficient one who is strapped to IV Max. You might notice his mouth. You see, in this post-apocalyptic, cancer-ridden, starvation and drought paradise, where life expectancy is probably about like 20, War Boys are led on by the promise that glorious death in battle will result in them becoming “eternal, shiny, and chrome”. So one who is “blessed” to imminently die in battle is traditionally spray-painted on the mouth to memorialize the occasion and spur on courage.
As an aside, when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, I did something like this to myself once. I was doing a crafts project when the silver (gold? I forget) spray paint can ran out. Spray, nothing coming out but air. Spray, nothing coming out but air. Spray onto my hand, this feels interesting. Wonder what it would feel like to spray air into your eye…yep. Shiny spray paint RIGHT in the eyeball. It wasn’t my finest moment.
But let’s get back to the film, because that’s a hell of a setup. Where do you suppose it goes? The rest of the movie is basically one long desert car chase of attrition, explosion and death, with a few interludes to try to shove some plot in.
This here is what most of the movie is like. I can’t really even tell you whether this was from the first half of the film or the second half. It all kind of blurs together. I mean, there’s some weird stuff, like these guys.
Which really does seem like a horribly inefficient way of going on a road rage attack, but the director makes it work. And of course, there’s the pièce de résistance, the ultimate in future apocalyptic car stereo products…
Yes, it’s a flame-belching bungee guitarist suspended in front of the biggest, baddest traveling tower of woofers you’ve ever seen. This is absolutely the first thing that must be brought out when heading off on desert death chase. I guess.
So there you kind of have it. The rest of the film goes pretty predictably.
Max escapes and joins Furiosa and the Harem and they eventually develop a grudging trust in each other. They escape, then have some sort of trouble that results in the Citadel catching up, then they escape, then the Citadel catches up…etc. The “favorite wife”, who is pregnant, falls off the truck and gets picked up by her Bad Guy husband, who has her belly cut open to deliver his stillborn child mid-chase. The blood-deficient War Boy fails in his attempt to sabotage the truck, and being found in hiding by the Drew Barrymore-looking haremite, they immediately fall in love for no good reason at all and he joins the side of good (eventually to sacrifice himself for the good of the others, of course). Furiosa finds her original plan, but there’s no Green Place…so they decide to go back to the Citadel. Right back into the teeth of the bad guys. This would seem to be a really bad call, but it works, and they end up killing Trachea Boy and stagger back to the Citadel where the peons are so grateful to be rid of their evil overlord that they let Furiosa become their new not-(yet)-evil overlord. And that’s the end.
As I said, tons of style in this movie, but I just couldn’t get into it. The plot is thin, what plot there is is predictable, and the whole thing is held together by special effects and more explosions than a post-apocalyptic society could really afford. “Hey, our five hotties just got stolen! Let’s expend the entire resources of our clan of tens of thousands to try to get them back.” Meh.