Monday, June 15, 2015

10 Ways "Mad Max: Fury Road" Could Have Been A Lesser Movie

I have now seen this movie three times in the theaters.

I've done this with only one other movie, Man of Steel, my favorite movie on the planet.  Mad Max now ranks at #3 on my favorite movies list.  (Interstellar is you see a trend of science fiction?)  After so much soaking in, and deciding that this movie was the least preachy but most beautifully-done themes movie I've ever seen, I was inspired to write this post.

Because really.  There are a lot of ways this movie could have gone wrong, but George Miller literally did everything right.  Not only was it incredibly aesthetically pleasing, and filled with Oscar-worthy performances (I'VE NEVER LOVED CHARLIZE THERON SO MUCH), and told with such exquisite detail that broke my heart......but the truth in the story, the redemption, was developed with such feeling that it is hard to miss.

Don't let me bore you with my rant, though.  Here are 10 Ways "Mad Mad: Fury Road" Could Have Been A Lesser Movie.
#10.  It could have lingered too long/spelled things out for us.
You know what I'm sick of?  People spelling out problems in the world and blaring them obnoxiously in people's ears, as if that will get them to listen and change.  Preachy movies irritate the crap out of me.  I call "The Lorax" A Political Musical.  Please, let the children watch a fun movie about goofy trees and grumpy old creatures and cute little boys without going all "SAVE THE TREES" on them.  I think they know this alreadys - they live in the 21st century, after all.
You know what brings change?  Truth.  The truth of a situation will always trump everything else if it is shown.  Actions speak louder than words, right?  Right?!  Well.  Mad Max's actions certainly spoke loudly, without being shoved down my throat and forced into my mind like a foghorn at 5 a.m.  (I am not a morning person.  Do not wake me from my precious slumber.)
#9.  It could have had All Kick-Ass Female Characters With Katniss Attitudes.
Please don't hear this wrong.  I adore Katniss, but she needs to stay in her box.  Women are amazing, because of one reason that encompasses all reasons: We're all different.  Don't...just don't tell me that in order to be strong I need to be Physically Capable and Stoic and Emotionally Constipated.  I say, screw that.  I'm strong in ways that my sister (whether by blood or by choice) isn't, and she's strong in ways that I'm not.  We help each other, you know?  We balance each other out.  The women in this movie are amazing.  AMAZING.  They blew my mind.  They were feminine and sometimes delicate and each strong in her own way (whether with fighting or weapons or engines or cunning) - and they all played their part.  No woman meant something more or less than the next.  They were who they were and it meant everything to me.  Furiosa is a freakin' queen.  Emotional, desperate, willing, strong, tough, kind of scary, tenacious, dedicated, beautiful.  Don't get me started.  Don't let me start tearing up.  I will.

#8.  Max could have been both meaner, or nicer, than he was.
Max is such a great character.  He's tortured and has gone through hell and back, but he doesn't give up for anything.  They could have taken it either way:  Make him mean, because he's crazy and doesn't want to deal with people's crap - or make him nice, because we want our sort-of-insane MC to be likable.  No no no no.  No.  Max is what he is: a little crazy, totally wonderful, utterly dedicated.  Because he's a naturally developed character that is grounded in humanity, it didn't matter if he was nice or mattered that he was Max.  Period.  I was trying to imagine the movie with either a more destructive and devil-may-care Max, and then a more "I want to save everyone because I'm a sad person and love everything" Max.  Both would have been dumb and stupid.  Both would have been annoying tropes.

#7.  They could have glorified/Hollywood-ized Tom Hardy and his body.
Let me set the record straight:  I have two eyes that work perfectly well (with the help of corrective lenses, but still) and are more than capable of seeing the gorgeous manliness that is Tom Hardy.  Please, it is incredibly hard to miss those lips.  (In fact, his lips are the first thing my own dear mother commented on when I mentioned this point to her on our way out of the theater.)  So don't get me started.  Thank the Lord in Heaven above that Tom Hardy exists on this earth.
We all know he's gorgeous.  We don't need the slow-motion, lingering, Thor-like shots of his 6-pack and rigid back muscles and vein-riddled arms and smoldering eyes and....are you still here?  Still listening?  Goooood.
What we need are solid action sequences that focus on the brutality of the world and the strength of one man.  Not exactly physical strength (although there is that, and it is shown perfectly without half-nakedness, thank you very much), but also strength of character.
(This point applies to the women, too!)

#6.  It could have been Just Another Dystopian:  Perfect people, perfect world, perfect perfect perfect ready to be shattered.
I love dystopia.  I mean, I'm kind of tired of it, some aspects at least.  But, man, there are some great stories out there.  You know what this move did?  It showed the already shattered, the brokenness of humanity, in its ugliest forms.  And I reveled in that.  Sure, it's great to see the "perfect" society of Divergent, with all the pretty people and nice buildings and weapons and sidewalks and gardens.  But what was even more powerful to me?  Seeing the destruction, and the madness, and the ugliness, and the lengths human beings will go to survive and gain redemption. (Once again: Truth, people.  It works.)

#5.  Piggy-backing on #6:  It could have asked dumb questions like "Are you sure I can give him my blood?  What if we're not the same blood type?"
This one might be a personal, petty thing, but...
Excuse me, this is the apocalypse we're talking about here.  You're all dying of radiation poisoning (tumors and fevers and missing limbs and sores and bad air).  If someone else's blood is going to save your life for the time being, please, take it.  I was worried the whole time that this was going to become an issue.  For some reason, the idea of that irked me.  And then it never happened and I was so relieved.  I mean, they mentioned the blood types....but it doesn't make it a big deal, or a huge plot point.  Again, I don't know why this would have bothered me...  I suppose it just was such a small worry in comparison to the rest of the things going on in the movie?  Yes.  That's it.  Similarly, there were a lot of other things throughout that I was like "Any other movie, and they'd make this a big deal..." and then, nope, they left it out, because it wasn't important.

#4.  There could have been useless girl drama.
THANK THE LOOOORD.  These girls had their moments of disagreement, but they were brief.  You know why?  They trusted each other.  They didn't need to fight and argue and add useless drama to the story because they were sisters, best friends, ready to kill for each other and also die for each other.  I mean, to a certain extent that is drama, but it's not useless - it's the kind of drama that's worth spending your time on.  Just sayin'.

#3.  Max could have told Furiosa his name toward the beginning of the movie.
I am just so so so so so happy this was not the case.  It pleased me beyond almost anything else that these two grew to respect each other......without words, without background.  They didn't need to know each other's names to see that they had one goal and they could work together well to accomplish it.  Who needs names when a person's soul is bared to you?

#2.  Nux and Capable could have said "I love you" or something equally ridiculous.
Actually, any number of the characters could have told each other how they felt.  This movie had the passion and magnitude to hold a plethora of emotional monologues.
BUT.  We didn't need that.  Remember what I said above about showing things rather than telling?  Well, this applies here, more than anywhere else.  Whether dealing with romantic feelings, or friendship, or just plain respect (see #3) - no one needed to hear any of it because we could see it so plainly.  It was like they plastered it onto my eyeballs, it was so clear.  I didn't need fluff or or explanations.  I just needed gestures and expression.  And that's what I got.  And it was gorgeous.
#1.  Furiosa and Max could have had a romance.
Let me just say:  There was enough fiery chemistry between these two to make something happen.  (Not exactly "romantic" fiery, but screen chemistry nonetheless; they have to have that to make a good movie, right?)  It's Hollywood.  They can do whatever they want.  They can throw sexual tension at us and make us beg for more.  Right?  Right?
Well, maybe some of us.
But this movie wasn't about that.  The possibility of a romance was something that I was uncertain about from the beginning.  Obviously, their paths were going to cross, but I wasn't sure how I felt about romance blossoming in a movie like this.  Especially between leads, because that would take time and energy that I didn't want to devote.  I wanted crazy, and action, and brutality, and explosions, and cars, and more brutality.  I wanted excellent character development and a reason to keep watching, a reason to get invested, that wasn't romance.
(For once, my romance-loving brain wanted something non-romancey.)
So, yes, I was given everything I ever wanted from this movie, and they kept the romance out.  Maybe there would be room for it in another Mad Max movie in the future.  Maybe I wouldn't mind it so much if Furiosa came back and she and Max had some tender moments (or maybe that's not them...more like intense/weird moments?) and that something between them, that mutual respect that so inspired me, developed into something a little deeper.  Sure, that'd actually be really nice.  But it wasn't for today, it wasn't for this movie, this plot.  And that, my friends, is the #1 reason why this movie gained the high ground, and stayed there, and won all the Sierra-loves-this-movie-and-here's-why awards.
What did you all think of this movie?  Did you enjoy it?  Do you agree with the points I lined up?  Give me all your comments!

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