Monday, 1 June 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road - 'not a review' review

A big part of the Milgeek blog has always been survivalist fiction, whether that be the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Fall Out, the zombie infested lands of Left4Dead or TV series like The Walking Dead - Milgeek likes dystopian worlds. And the king of dystopian wastelands must be Mad Max...

Well, the wife and I went to see the new Mad Max: Fury Road and we were both extremely impressed...In fact, right off the bat, I would say it is the best movie in the series so far. So there!

But it's not without it's slight controversy (what good movie wouldn't be) and this is why this is 'not a review' review. There is no point debating the quality of this movie based on the crazy feminist v 'men's rights' squabble that has developed over the plot-line as that is a Fury Road to nowhere. As I have already said the movie is brilliant so no more needs to be said as regarding quality as - in truth - like a perfect symphony the reason it is brilliant is more an instinctive feeling than it is an conscious empirical deconstruction.

So what kind of review is this?

Well, it's just a nod to what has annoyed so many people (apparently) and why feminists have completely missed a point because they were too busy knee-jerk reacting to the male-chauvinists!

A certain faction of male Mad Max fans have been upset by George Miller's 'Mad Max' movie - they seem think that Fury Road has emasculated Max in favour of a pro-feminist message. Feminists, on the other hand, retort that some men just can't handle a strong female lead character that - in many ways - 'out-Maxed' Max!

Women on top?

Now my take on this is slightly different, I can see both sides but I also have drawn a slightly different conclusion about the movie and the attitudes regarding genre in our society (and in the movie industry)...

Some men seem to think that they have been conned - they were promised a Mad Max movie and they feel that what they got was some sort of feminist diatribe about how everything bad was 'mens' fault'* and that females are the 'good guys' (so to speak) while men have been relegated - in the movie - to animalistic and sub-human 'bad guys'. Meanwhile, the poor Mad Max character (played by Tom Hardy) has been reduced to a simpering and somewhat dull version of his former (Mel Gibson era) self, reliant on females to act as his ethical conscience and intellectual guide.

* Indeed this sentiment is articulated in the dialogue - the women do blame the men for all the evils.

And meanwhile, Feminists - who appear to be generally very happy with the above implications seem to have an attitude of 'yeah, so?' and 'you men can't handle a strong self-reliant female lead character'!

...My opinion is, the Feminists have a point - but at the same time they have completely over-looked the bigger one.

Feminists and Mad Max...What is the point they are trying to make? ;)

To me Charlize Theron's  'Imperator Furiosa' character is one of the most exciting dystopian characters we have seen in movies in a long time - female OR male! She is an instant classic that equals Mad Max and - in my opinion - easily warrants her own movie (I would, for example, like to see how she became the War Rig driver in Immortan Joe's tribe). But therein is the rub...

Whatever positive message this movie sends out about gender equality this movie was advertised and is titled 'Mad Max: Fury Road'. I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect that when a movie has - so prominently - in it's title the name of a notable fictional character then that movie kinda implies that the storyline is about that character.

Fury Road wasn't entitled 'a movie set in the universe of Mad Max' or 'Imperator Furiosa and Mad Max' - had it been so titled then one might have justifiably expected that the role of Max would have been secondary in the scheme of things. But no, it was called 'Mad Max: Fury Road'.

So, score one for the 'men'.


I am a man. In fact - if you will allow me - as a man born and raised in Scotland in the 1960s I am a pretty manly man, with all the chauvinist baggage to boot! (I admit it - and I have no qualms as I happen to enjoy being a man!) - AND YET I loved this movie and I loved Charlize Theron's character!

The plain fact is even though I am a man (I think we have established that now) and I like good strong male role models as a result - as we men always like a 'stick' with which to measure ourselves by (Freud knows what I mean) - I am very much attracted to strong female characters as well. I am a fan of Sigourney Weaver (Ripley) in Alien, of Milla Jovovich (Alice) in Resident Evil (sue me!), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) in Terminator, Cybil Bennett (Officer Holden) in Silent Hill, Danai Gurira (Michonne) in Walking Dead, etc, etc, etc...And I revelled, wholeheartedly, in Charlize Theron's 'Imperator Furiosa' (actually, I even liked her in Aeon Flux, but the less said about that the better).

Er...I dunno why this is here!

I have absolutely no problem with relating to a strong female character and it in no way spoils my enjoyment of a good film. And there is where my point lies...

While Feminist groups seemed content to lower themselves into bickering with male-chauvinists groups about the ins and outs of the meaning of 'Mad Max: Fury Road' not one of them have questioned WHY the movie had to be called 'Mad Max: Fury Road' in the first place!

For me, the Max character was reduced in importance in Fury Road - he was not quite the Max that we saw when played by Mel Gibson - but that isn't a slight on Tom Hardy's ability. Tom played a different Max...Indeed, to be honest, the Max character in Fury Road could have been anyone - just some random male wanderer - his inclusion as 'Mad Max' was a complete irrelevancy!

I think the inclusion of Max as 'Mad Max' was simply to draw in the fans of that character to ensure this movie sold. The plain fact is that this movie could have had no Mad Max and still have been a great movie, only Hollywood - ironically - just didn't have the balls to make a movie called 'Fury Road' with the lead character being Imperator Furiosa...Full stop.

This is what Feminists have missed. They are right to say some men cannot handle strong female characters (so well done, score a point to you) but they completely overlooked the real issue that Hollywood did a fantastic actress out of what should have been one of her defining roles because that role was devalued by having to play second fiddle to a male character that was only really there to secure box office takings! Because it's 'Hollywood' who perpetuates the idea that men will not go to see a female hero!

...The Mad Max role in Fury Road (I reiterate) was entirely superfluous. I would have been very happy having gone to see a movie called 'Fury Road' starring Charlize Theron. It would NOT have made me feel any less of a man or made me begrudge paying for a ticket.

I feel incandescent with frustration on behalf of Mz. Theron, who played a superb part, because she was upstaged not merely by a male character but by the ghost of a male character!

As I said, all this is by no means a criticism of Tom Hardy or the way he played Max. Tom will make an excellent Max in his own right and I am looking forward to the next movie (which I believe is in the works).  But to my mind Tom's appearance in this particular movie was something like Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance as Conan in the movie 'Red Sonja' (though perhaps, in retrospect, this is a bad comparison as Brigitte Nielsen is no Charlize Theron)!

How things have changed...An interesting comparison of old and new and the prominence given.

So there we have it; men score one, feminists score one and I score one! - And that's the biggest shame, because in all this the real winners we should be celebrating are Charlize Theron and the screenplay by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris and George Miller (again) for his wonderful job of Directing.

I fully recommend Max Max: Fury Road - it's an epic piece of action with an outstanding hero (not Max)...I wrote this post to rid myself of the associated ranker and silly bitchiness. Enjoy the movie for what it actually is, not for what other people say it is. It's brilliant!

Postscript: I mentioned my wife enjoyed it. I didn't ask her if she enjoyed it because the female lead was so strong and positive. All I can say is that it was nice for us to go to an action movie where one of us didn't feel short changed because their genre representation was a pussy....Er, if you know what i mean! ;)

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