As a little kid in the 80's, I ended up watching MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME at a friend's house who had HBO. It BLEW ME AWAY, everything from the whole post-apocalyptic setting and aesthetic to the Thunderdome battle against Master-Blaster to the final high-octane vehicle chase ending. Awesome characters and action. But most of all, Max himself is what drew me in. I've always been more of a fan of the Han Solo / Jack Sparrow / Ash Williams type of anti-hero rouge characters -- the selfish pirate with a heart of gold who heroically does the right thing, but without sacrificing too much of the "Han Shot First" vibe. Mad Max is the personification of this archetype. Silent, deadly, tough as nails. Best kind hero, IMHO.
When I finally got to move backwards through the franchise and see THE ROAD WARRIOR (Thunderdome's predecessor), I was even more blown away and taken with it for all the reasons I loved Thunderdome. Road Warrior is the perfect Western. And a perfect action film. LOVE IT. Not quite so big a fan of the original MAD MAX, but it's still an awesome first chapter to this franchise, having seen these three in reverse order for the first time.
Cut to MANY LONG YEARS later and we finally get George Miller's promised return to this world and character with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. At first I was a little distressed that were going forward without Mel Gibson in the role, but Tom Hardy has proven himself to be up to the challenge. Last night I got to see the movie at an early screening and it was EVERYTHING I WAS HOPING FOR amped-up by 25%. There's just nothing like this movie. It's all the artistic and poetic details you love in a movie like "Amelie" or any of Terry Gilliam's work, coupled with FUCKING INSANE action sequences. Some of the best stunt work, "action driving" cinematography, and pure visual storytelling I have seen in a long time. Can't wait to go see it again upon its release next week. Hopefully the start of a new trilogy for George Miller with Tom Hardy as Max, and hopefully Charlize Theron will also reprise her character in future installments.
Two out of two stars. Go see this one. Unlike anything you will see at the box office this year.
-Justin Staggs / @staggfilms