You might be familiar with a little review I wrote for a little movie called Snowpiercer. In fact, you’re more likely to be familiar with that piece than anything else on the site, since it’s had nearly eleven thousand hits, which is eight thousand more hits than the second most popular post I’ve ever written. It’s the first thing you get when you Google “Snowpiercer stupid,” and it still gets 35-40 hits a day, every day, no matter what.
A thing to remember about that movie is that I wanted to see it. It was my idea. Because Snowpiercer had been getting rave reviews from people whose opinion on film I generally trusted.
Those same people have been raving about Mad Max: Fury Road for over a week now. It’s been an incredibly well-received film. And as a result it was the first movie since Lincoln that I’ve seen in the theaters that didn’t involve a superhero somehow, although I did manage to miss opening weekend.
I was terrified to see this film, and I was terrified precisely because of Snowpiercer. I wanted to love it, but…well, you’ll see.
Here’s the good news: I didn’t hate it. It might sound like it at points, but I really didn’t. Does that mean I think it was a good movie? No. It’s not. In fact, the Snowpiercer comparison is actually pretty apt: Mad Max: Fury Road is a very Snowpiercer-ish movie, in that it is stunningly well-shot, amazingly pretty, great to look at… and so deeply stupid that it hurts me in my bones.
But God, is it pretty, and exciting, and appropriately badass at any number of points. This is the bad guy:
I mean, look at that creepy motherfucker, with his creepy teeth painted onto his respirator and his weird creepy transparent plastic armor. He’s Obviously Evil, and impressively so.
Here is the thing about Mad Max: Fury Road. It is a two-hour car chase. It is literally and completely and I am not exaggerating a two hour car chase, or if you want me to be super specific it’s probably about three half-hour car chases with some slightly calmer shit in between. Shit blows up good, and people are badasses. There’s a dude whose only job it is to play electric guitar while hanging from some chains several feet above a moving vehicle. The guitar occasionally shoots fire for some reason.
If you hear that and think “Awesome!” then go see this movie right now. If you’re of the mindset to question the need for a flamethrower-guitar dude while risking dozens of lives and some of the only few remaining post-apocalypse vehicles plus untold amounts of ammunition and explosives and gas and water to bring the only four pretty women left on Earth back to Captain Creepyteeth up there, you might want to give it a pass. If you’re going to spend the movie wondering why the four scantily-clad pretty women aren’t ever worried about sunscreen, this might not be your movie.
(Captain Creepyteeth’s real name is Joe. That’s not a joke. The character’s name is Joe.)
What separates it from Snowpiercer territory is that Mad Max: Fury Road knows what kind of movie it is, and revels in it. Yeah, there’s a guitar flamethrower. But squibbity-blam-boom-flame!!! Yeah, there’s a scene where grown men attach themselves to the ends of giant mechanical pole vault sticks to swing around above the cars that are moving at many dozens of miles an hour over desert, and there’s lots of people spraypainting their mouths silver for some reason, and then there’s the bit with the blood transfusions that I won’t even get into. But all that shit is cool! Fury Road knows it’s a gloriously dumb movie, and it wants you to revel in the glorious dumb. Snowpiercer really thought it was a Deep and Serious Film about Deep and Serious Issues and not a shit-stupid action movie. Mad Max: Fury Road knows good and goddamn well that it’s a shit-stupid action movie, and it is a damn good shit-stupid action movie, to the point where I’m not sure being smarter would have helped.
(A possibly clarifying example: that robots vs. monsters movie… what the hell was it called? Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim was a terribly stupid movie that did not have to be terribly stupid, and in fact in several places could have been helped by being less stupid. I’m not sure that removing the dumb parts helps Mad Max. The movie wouldn’t be better without Flamethrower Guitar in it. It would just be less itself, if that makes any sense.)
There is also this guy, whose name is– I am not making this up– Rictus Erectus, because of course it is:
He will play Grond, when Benevolence Archives becomes a movie.
(And I’ve found no good place to mention this, because this movie really isn’t about acting, but Charlize Theron really is as great as everyone’s been giving her credit for. The movie really should be called Furiosa: Fury Road, except that takes it into Riddick levels of stupidly repeated words.)