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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is a feminist manifesto wrapped in an incredible action film!




Where is it playing?: Movies Lompoc, Parks Plaza

What's it rated?: R

What's it worth?: $8.00 (Anna)

What's it worth?: $10.00 (Glen)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Welcome to the post apocalypse. It’s 2060, and our planet has become a dystopian nightmare in which civilization has been replaced by utter chaos. Tyrannical leader King Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his vicious War Boys are chasing Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) across a vast wasteland to retrieve the Five Wives, formerly captive women fertile enough to produce children, who Furiosa liberated. Meanwhile, loner Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a man driven near mad by the loss of his wife and child, crosses paths with Furiosa and is reluctantly drawn into helping. Directed and co-written by original trilogy creator George Miller—Mad Max (1979), Mad Max: The Road Warrior (1981), Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)—the new film also stars Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoë Kravitz, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. (120 min.)

Glen: This just may be the guyiest guy movie ever! Loud, relentless, and punishingly brutal—Mad Max: Fury Road amounts to a two-hour-long, action-packed chase scene with just a handful of quiet moments and what seemed like fewer than 500 words of dialog. Who needs a complicated plot and a bunch of talking when you’ve got Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron fighting for their very lives against an army of bloodthirsty, suicidal psychopaths driving fire breathing war machines? The film opens with Max being captured by King Immortan Joe’s army. He’s kept alive for only one reason: to drain his blood into one of Joe’s radiation-sick War Boys, in this case Nux (Nicholas Hoult, painted white with a shaved head). When the War Boys are called on to follow Joe as he pursues Furiosa and the Five Wives, he straps Max to the front of his vehicle and gives chase, intent on catching Furiosa and earning his way into Valhalla. And the chase? Pure spectacle! The vehicles are an amazing array of customized trucks, vintage cars, and hotrods. King Joe inspires his War Boys much like Lt. Col. Kilgore blasting Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” out of his choppers in Apocalypse Now, but instead it’s a bunch of War Boys beating Tiako drums while a blind heavy metal guitarist suspended in front of a truck stacked with speakers wails away. The stunts are heart-stopping—not a bunch of CGI nonsense (that’s saved for Furiosa’s below-the-elbow amputated arm). And despite all the mayhem, the story—such as it is—manages to offer some potent emotional moments as well. 

Anna: I knew what I was getting into going into this film—it was going to be loud, action-packed, with scantily clad women and an ugly villain. Fury Road did not disappoint in any of those areas. Was there much of a storyline to it? No, just enough to give reason to the intense chase that makes up 95 percent of the film. But hey, with that much high-speed action and violence, there’s not much time for story anyway. While it carries the name Mad Max, this film is very much owned by Theron’s Furiosa. She’s a badass warlord in search of redemption and hell-bent on getting back to the home she was taken from as a child. She uses her position to gain the trust of Immortan Joe, then stows his five fertile wives in the hull of her gigantic war rig and heads out under the guise of a fuel and weapons run. In the first of many legs of this chase, Furiosa and Max join up and use their combined skills to keep kicking ass and taking names as they move closer and closer to the “Green Place,” where Furiosa believes the wives will be safe and cared for. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and we watch them tumble over one hurdle after the other.

Glen: No doubt about it. This is Furiosa’s story more than Max’s. He’s haunted by his dead family, and those specters seem to come at the most inopportune times, usually when he’s in full-on battle or chase mode. But Furiosa? She’s the heart and hope of the story. We learn she comes from a fierce line of female warriors, the remnants of which we meet as they try to reach the “Green Place,” Furiosa’s childhood home. Her tribe is now reduced to a handful of ancient women on motorcycles, but they promise to be the guiding light to the Five Wives as the group turns around and decides to take Joe and his army on and recapture his citadel and its water supply. The film’s message is pure feminism: Men, capitalism, and a desire for oil destroyed the world; and women, collectivism, environmentalism, and conservation will save it. The fact that the message is wrapped in a shit-ton of super awesome stunts, explosions, chases, and fights is just a bonus. Yee haw!

Anna: If you want a nice, quiet night in where you can sip wine and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, tell your manly man to take his favorite bro out on a man-date to drink beer, watch Mad Max: Fury Road, and then reenact their favorite scenes while simultaneously talking about how hot Charlize Theron’s boobs are. You will both have an amazing night. That being said, if you want to get the blood pumping yourself, or you just love a nail-biting action packed flick, there is no better way to see Mad Max than on a big screen. You get to appreciate every detail of these crazy contraptions that everyone is riding around in and the amazing talent that these actors and stunt men and women have. If you go to the 3-D version, you even get bits of their cars flying at you as they tumble and crash into each other. This movie makes for an intense two hours, with so much happening onscreen it can be hard to know where to look. I have to say the cinematography and costuming was killer, and what it lacked in storyline, it made up for it in raw, awesome action.

Sun Screen is written by New Times staff writer and Sun contributor Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at