Remakes or franchise revivals don’t typically receive a lot of Oscar love.
However, director George Miller’s frenetic road trip opus “Mad Max: Fury Road” is just too brilliant, thrilling and trippy cool to ignore.
It’s old-fashioned filmmaking mixed with new school execution that totally deserves its best picture nod and multiple technical nominations. The craftsmanship of the cinematography, editing, art direction, sound design, makeup and costumes is ferociously executed.
Now, you can debate for years whether the story is a feminist allegory or not. Charlize Theron did muscle up with a potent dose of “girl power,” and her strong, uncompromising and unapologetically fierce Furiosa belongs in the Ellen Ripley Hall of Fame.
But the real star of this beautifully strange movie is its artistry. With an economy of dialogue, “Mad Max” succeeds as visual poetry.
“The Revenant” has received a ton of press about how difficult it was to shoot in the bitter cold in Alberta, Canada. “Mad Max: Fury Road” was shot in the Namib Desert of southern Africa — not exactly easy conditions or terrain in which to shoot a film either. And Miller shot organically wherever possible, using actual explosions, functioning vehicles and real stunt people in his apocalyptic Cirque du Soleil.
In many ways “Mad Max: Fury Road” is one of the best action movies ever made. There are four or five action sequences that are flat-out ridiculously X-Games sick.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” has been been unfairly categorized as a “genre” movie, a slight that says more about the academy’s aging and somewhat out-of-touch membership than about the movie. But at the very least it’s a visionary film that’s as entertaining as it is technically breathtaking.
Miller did the near impossible. He revived an ’80s semi-cult classic and received both critical acclaim and huge commercial success. Vehicular rage has never been this fun or interesting.
Shawn Edwards reviews films for WDAF-TV Fox 4 in Kansas City.