They had pilgramaged to this place the desert, this ragtag band of hardened survivors.

Garbed in leathers and shoulder pads, armed to the teeth from some crude forge, assembled amongst their junkyard vehicles welded with mesh screen and armor plate, these most devoted followers of a vision of maelstrom and decay stood in front of a large screen to receive a long range transmission from the creators.

On the screen appeared three men standing in front of a huge custom build truck. One man spoke, “Greetings to everyone out there in The Wasteland, from Our Apocalypse, to Your Apocalypse, much Love.” The engine of the beastly vehicle howled to life and the assemblage of leathered bezerkers roared their delight and approval!

The event was Wasteland Weekend 2010{1},an open air festival in the California desert celebrating the post-apocalyptic vision of the Mad Max franchise. The men in the video were director George Miller, the creator of the series, production designer Colin Gibson, and stunt coordinator Guy Norris. The message in the video was none less than that pre-production was underway for...

Mad Max: Fury Road

After nearly a decade of rumors, false starts and setbacks, it finally seems that the troubled fourth installment of the Mad Max franchise will see the big screen, and is scheduled to be released sometime in 2012. {imdb} {2}

According to Miller, many of the delays in producing this film are due to the size and complexity of the production. To the delight of Mad Max purists, Miller, Gibson and Norris plan to stay true to the live action stunts that were pioneered in the original film and the groundbreaking "The Roadwarrior". Miller explains, "It’s got just a huge number of stunts, and we're trying to do stuff that I believe people haven't done before". Colin Gibson offered that they’re building over a hundred vehicles, and that "Guy’s job is to wreck ‘em all". {3}

Filming is planned to take place in Sydney and Broken Hill, the site of previous Mad Max movies. The production budget is rumored to be $100 Million and is expected to create up to 500 jobs. This is a serious boon to the suffering Australian film industry. Miller, who is also producing the sequel to "Happy Feet" in 2011, hopes to stimulate the local film econonomy in the long term and create permanant opportunities for an Australian film making disporia. {4} {5}

Controversy concerning the production of the film is eclipsed only by that of the casting for the lead role. Mel Gibson it seems will not reprise the role of Max Rockatansky. That role will likely be played by Tom Hardy, although Hardy and Miller have been annoyingly tight-lipped and ambiguous concerning the final casting of the film. Charlize Theron reportedly shall be cast as an antagonist named Imperator Furiosa. {6}

Fortunately, images of the real stars of the Mad Max series have begun to surface on the internet: The Vehicles. {7} Too many other details are up in the air, which I find maddening. Various sources indicate that a fifth (!?) film may be filmed concurrently with Fury Road, Fury Road will be shot in 3D, Fury Road will be filmed on the moon… too much, too much! Heavy rains postponed the production in 2010 and labor disputes have now postponed the filming until 2012.

What is more disheartening, this delay has left many major film crew members without work amid fears the high Australian dollar could ultimately kill the film {8}. I really hope this will not be the case. I have been waiting a long time for a worthy addition to the series and I just hope that the vehicles, the chases, the stunts and the action, will all live up to the hype. Those damn kids from "Beyond Thunderdome" better not be in the film either!




UPDATE July 28, 2014:

Filming has been reportedly completed for both Fury Road and its sucessor "Furiosa." Fury Road has a release date of May 15, 2015. Until then, you can watch the TRAILER!

{1} http://wastelandweekend.com/?p=521
{2} http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Delayed-Hopefully-Not-For-Good-21116.html
{3} http://www.madmaxmovies.com/mad-max-4-fury-road/current-news/index.html
{4} http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2009/10/29/2727833.htm
{5} http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/10/24/2723077.htm
{6} http://www.collider.com/2010/06/26/tom-hardy-interview-mad-max-fury-road-training-look-shooting-schedule-filming-george-miller/
{7} http://starcasm.net/archives/61621
{8} http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/mad-max-sequel-delayed-again/story-e6frg8pf-1225936195121 http://www.roadwarusa.com/

The damn kids from Beyond Thunderdome are not in the film.

Mad Max: Fury Road is not a balanced movie.

But that's not what you wanted, is it?

Seriously. Remember those 6-8 minutes of The Road Warrior where the combat centers around the rig? Okay, maybe 10-12 minutes of actual action. Remember that? You do? Did you like it?

I hope so, because Fury Road is basically nothing but that for maybe 2-2.25 hours.

As mentioned above, an unusual bout of rain disrupted the planned filming in Australia. Originally planned to be filmed near Broken Hill, the production was postponed when a large rainfall season ended up blanketing the desert in wildflowers. While gorgeous, it just really doesn't scream 'WASTELAND' and thus the whole thing was packed up and shipped to Namibia. Where, of course, it turns out there is a fragile lichen-based dune ecosystem which the production is now accused of running roughshod over with their chariots of fire and destruction.

What chariots.

I won't even bother recapping the plot. The trailer should give you clues. If it doesn't, I'll tell you that it doesn't matter. It's Mad Max. The opening voice-over has him telling us how life has narrowed down to one and only one goal: survive. If there's anything upsetting about the movie, it's that we watch 'the last of the big-block V8s' get taken and destroyed. But in return, we get a War Rig.

There has been much discussion of the feminist plot of this movie. I dunno, I wasn't paying attention. Things were blowing up. Real good. To the point where, as a red-blooded American male, I found the sudden presence of scantily-clad beauties washing themselves with a hose to be...distracting. No, really, it got in the way. Mad Max isn't about titties, it's about explosions and harpoons and cables and blood and death and nitrous and spikes and shotguns.

This movie passes the Bechdel test, okay? That's all you need to know. But really, you shouldn't care. If you're going to see this movie for anything other than gasoline-fueled insanity, you're wasting your money.

Hot damn, that was probably the best car chase I've seen in five or ten years, and unlike Ronin this one went on for two hours.

When I do actually think about this movie, I have to reflect that it's like a call from the past. It's a uniquely 1980s post-apocalypse. It's (as someone else online said, can't remember who) a scream from a nightmare you had in 1983. When the oil and water ran out and the nukes flew, what would happen after? That's what Mad Max is about. What happens after. And there's a lot of actual information and extrapolation in this flick, hidden behind the walls of steel and death. Names like 'The Bullet Farmer' and 'Gas Town' and 'The Organic Mechanic' tell you all you need to know, no other explanations required. Deserts of salt and sand 160 days across? Sure, it could be Australia, but with distances like that, you begin to wonder if in fact the oceans themselves are gone. They might be. Who knows?

Nobody knows. And it's not relevant.

Who has the guzzle-ene, and who's got the cars, and who's got the rest of the beat-down population scared enough to do their bidding? Someone other than Max Rockatansky.

And it's going to go hard for them when they lay hands on him.

I may have gotten outside of three or six martinis before seeing this movie.

Mad Max: Fury Road is not exactly the kind of movie I typically watch. I tend to watch stuff with interpersonal drama, or subtitles, or Meryl Streep, and this movie really had none of those things. I was in fact only sort of aware of it before I saw it, because a friend and I just wanted to go see a movie, and I had faintly heard that it had made some "men's rights activists" mad about something or other, which seemed like as good a reason to watch it as any.

So, apparently the anger over the film stems from it being "feminist propaganda". To be sure, the movie has heavy gender themes. "Subtext" understates it; in fact, it's less text than a smack to the face: the plot of the film is driven (and there is a lot of literal driving, of course) by a female general, Furiosa, played by the always appealing Charlize Theron, smuggling a group of women sex slaves to freedom. Her goal is to take them to "the Green Place", where "the Many Mothers" live in peace, with plenty of food and water. Her escape vehicle is a giant truck filled with human breast milk. It's not exactly subtle.

The place they're escaping is the Citadel, a small oasis in which water is pumped from deep below ground to grow crops and given -- in an extremely meager supply -- to the populace. The Citadel is ruled by Immortan Joe, an old man in a skull mask, breathing machine, and plastic armor. The women smuggled out by Furiosa were his beautiful young "wives", one of whom is amply pregnant. Immortan Joe's forces are an army of "War Boys", sickly-looking young men with bodily modifications, some of whom are dependent on transfusions from enslaved human "blood bags" to function. The War Boys are driven by religious fervor, believing that an honorable death will lead them to ride alongside Immortan Joe in Valhalla.

Immortan Joe is grotesque in every way, including physically, and the beneficiaries of his rule are himself and a few high-ranking cronies (many of which appear to be his relatives); while the film focuses on the plight of Furiosa and the wives, they are not the only ones suffering: we briefly see a large population of unfortunate people dwelling in and dependent on the Citadel. Their misery is illustrated in a scene in which Immortan Joe briefly allows some of his water supply to cascade upon the populace, who eagerly await it with any container available to them, until the leader shuts off the supply again and warns the wretches below not to grow "addicted" to it.

The film itself is almost pure action; from childhood I seem to recall "action movies" having action sequences interspersed through the rest of the film; in this movie, quiet scenes are a rarity. The action scenes are thankfully well done and manage to be both really cool looking and pretty easy to follow, without lots of bad shaky-cam making it impossible to follow. It's immensely satisfying seeing Charlize get to be as much a badass as Tom Hardy, and even more fun seeing the elderly surviving Mothers join in.

The film does a fairly deft job of making the violence it portrays exciting while not allowing the viewer to forget that it's tragic -- it's a sad necessity in a world that has become miserable and ruined. And it ends with a message of hope, allowing for a possible future in which it's not necessary for old women to be masters at gunfighting. Having literally overthrown a patriarchy, Furiosa now stands to rebuild society into something much better. Sadly, this coming place of peace doesn't have room for Mad Max, the ultimate survivor, who leaves the women and walks off into the desert again at the end.

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