The Fury Road Not Taken

"I remember a time of chaos."
"I remember a time of chaos."
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

2015 promises to be a big year for movies, with some predicting box office returns of the all-time record variety. Indeed, any one of these three movies has the potential to break $1.5 billion worldwide.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Jurassic World Star Wars: The Force Awakens

And it's not out of the realm of possibility to see $2 billion+ from Avengers and Star Wars. Throw in new installments of the James Bond (Spectre, Hunger Games (Mockingjay, Part 2) and Fast/Furious (Furious 7) franchises, and this year is shaping up to be lucrative indeed.

But while the first Avengers was good fun, and I've been an occasionally reluctant Star Wars fan since my mom got me out of 2nd grade early to see it on its theatrical run, the 2015 movie I'm most excited about isn't listed above, it's Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth movie in the series and the first in 30 years.

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Admittedly, a large part of my enthusiasm results from the fact this movie ever got made at all. We'll be seeing Marvel and Bond movies until Hillary Clinton's granddaughter is elected President, and Disney buying Star Wars means they'll keep producing Episodes (n+1) up to the heat death of the universe, but the 4th Mad Max -- while never officially dead -- was in the film development equivalent of hospice care for a while. Consider the timeline:

2000 -- Original Max Mel Gibson and Miller express confidence in another installment. 2003 -- Miller declares that a script is written, and filming was set to begin that year. Unfortunately, concerns about filming in Namibia (the 2003 Gulf War damaged more than just our relationship with the French) causes production to shut down. 2007 -- Gibson declares the film dead. His career would soon follow. 2009 -- Miller announces Fury Road will be an animated 3D feature film. 2009 -- Scratch that; location shooting is underway and filming will begin at Broken Hill, New South Wales in 2011. 2010 -- Tom Hardy is announced as the new Max. Charlize Theron is cast as "Furiosa." 2011 -- Filming moves back to Namibia because unprecedented rains in Australia turned the hellish Broken Hill desert into a verdant meadow filled with wildflowers.

Since the first trailer for Fury Road dropped, I've avoided as much pre-release info as possible, but allow me to share a few of the reasons I'm GETTING' HYPED.

No Doubting Thomas Tom Hardy starred in two of the best movies of 2014 (The Drop and Locke), and has been consistently excellent ever since I first saw him in Layer Cake, where I first saw him (I'm selectively omitting This Means War from my calculations). If Fury Road doesn't make this guy a bigger star than Channing freaking Tatum, then we have failed as a species.

In The Kingdom Of The Mutants, The One-Armed Woman Is Queen

Okay, there probably aren't any mutants. And I don't think Furiosa is a "queen" so much as someone attempting to shepherd her people across the Wasteland (yes, it's capitalized), but Theron is also a solid (and Oscar-winning) actor. And even

sans

arm, she gives me funny feelings.

That arm is considered an unfair advantage in most shooting contests.
That arm is considered an unfair advantage in most shooting contests.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Hard TaRget Fury Road will be rated "R" for "intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images." An interesting strategy for a summer release, but one that will hopefully pay off. Still, it'll be hard to get more disturbing than this.

Right? C'mon Wez, put some pants on.

"'Anything I say.' What a wonderful philosophy you have." This is "Immortan Joe:"

I'm going way out on a limb and assuming he's the Bad Guy, though I doubt he looks familiar to you (at least, I hope to hell he doesn't), He is, however, played by none other than Hugh Keays-Byrne, who fans of the original Mad Max will recognize by another name:

Though as gang handles go, "Toecutter" is kind of weak.
Though as gang handles go, "Toecutter" is kind of weak.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

It's the Toecutter! I mean, obviously not the *actual* Toecutter (who died rather messily at the end of the first movie), but still. Maybe it's just me, but I found it very cool Keays-Byrne was coming back for this. At the very least, we won't have to see the Gyro Captain again.

Miller Time

My dad took me to see The Road Warrior in 1982, and it's been one of my favorite movies ever since (I caught the original on VHS a short time later). I wasn't as big fan of the third film, Beyond Thunderdome (aside from its epic quotability), but I've never forgotten how groundbreaking George Miller's vision of the future was. Obviously he wasn't the first to show us dystopia, but damned if he didn't make the prospect of fighting rampaging outlaws look cool.

Fury Road may not work at all, and I might be eating crow on this very site in two months time, but for now I'm just grateful I'm getting another chance to live vicariously as a fuel-injected suicide machine in George Miller's world.


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