Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
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According to Chris Hemsworth, undaunted, “Do you have what it takes to make it epic?” It’s a call to action that comes towards the end of George Miller’s “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” an apocalyptic epic western prequel of 2015 to his film “Mad Max: Fury Road” which is one more thing addressed at him. This movie exists to give all this and even more: further death defying chases, greater stunts in air space, emotions that can be felt deeper inside and still, somehow, a greater spirit for pushing what frame holds—this time using Christian iconography and the Arthurian legend in weaving a spellbinding story that also happens however predictable it may appear when we consider that its leading us toward a bleak future. It is simply one-of-a-kind prequels ever.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Broken into five chapters, each denser than the last, the film begins with very young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) picking fruit from a tree near her bucolic homeland “The Green Place.” Bikers arrive to harrow the land. And although Furiosa was able enough in sabotaging their bikes she is captured which forces her mother (Charlee Fraser) out into the desert wasteland to retrieve her. Thereafter follows a mad chase over sand dunes during which Furiosa’s mother pursues daughter’s kidnappers through sandstorms up until they reach Dementus’ (Chris Hemsworth) hideout; one of many expansive sets within this movie. This is only the start of ten-year old feud between Furiosa and Dementus regarding revenge and loss and wanting home back.

Of course any further summarizing would not just spoil the movie but say that these narrative beats are essential. They’re not. That doesn’t mean “Furiosa” is illogical; instead Miller tells an emotional story about how as once pure child turned into a jaded woman. It’s that kind of arc that matches with the film’s operatic sensibilities as we’re introduced to the origins of wasteland fortresses such as Gas Town and Bullet Farm, and taken to Citadel run by younger, more imposing Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme). Other characters like Immortan Joe’s bumbling sons Rictus (Nathan Jones) and Scrotus (Josh Helmen) make an appearance too, while nods are made in the direction of fan favourites from “Fury Road”.

Surprisingly, Furiosa, the older one played by Anya Taylor-Joy doesn’t appear until about an hour into the movie. This may initially disappoint some people but it should not: for Alyla Browne playing teenage Furiosa is just so absorbing , often evoking a young Jodie Foster in how she combines otherworldly intelligence with relentless confidence. So seamlessly does she lay this groundwork that when we flash forward to Taylor-Joy’s version of her character it took me a couple beats before I could even tell which actress was onscreen.

Miller has so much confidence in what he does that he creates even a long chase where Furiosa drives through the wilderness being pursued by Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke) on an oil run giving Taylor-Joy and her character a perfect entrance-a hard push in for a worthy close up. Although Burke’s appearance is quite brief, both he and Taylor-Joy create quick chemistry as two lost souls who think that there is still paradise somewhere on earth if they just followed the star map drawn on Furiosa’s forearm.

It may seem as though Hemsworth is playing second fiddle but he isn’t. Even when he wears an awful wig, an intrusive prosthetic nose and disappears for some time. Yet every time he appears, it can be said that his part makes it the best scene in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.” He doesn’t only get memorable lines that are easy to say again. There is no denying how physically imposing Hemsworth ever was here, at first as an eloquent messiah cum conman; then as a braggart politician, finally as an emperor without any clothes on him at all. This composite mixture of Dementus’ wit, heartlessness and cold calculations is something Hemsworth has been working towards in his characters over time culminating into this unforgettable villain turn.

I am absolutely able to criticize parts of “Fury Road” which I prefer over the corresponding ones in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga”. The latter contains more VFX hence making me miss out on certain thrills that Miller managed to provide with his relentless use of practical effect in their place. I also find “Fury Road” somewhat subtler thematically than this sounds since its visual language (as impeccably crafted) pretty much slams you against the wall. Take one step further: Every line of dialogue reads like a flag pointing to why every scene matters metaphorically speaking. However, these small gripes can be easily overlooked not only because Miller takes such a huge gamble but also due to his sheer fascination with this universe, these people and the kind of large-scale storytelling that he does. There’s even a character known as piss boy; thus, there is something for everyone in it.

When it comes to scale, nobody can do it better than Miller. The editing by Margaret Sixel and Eliot Knapman is breathtakingly seamless-quickly establishing both relationships between characters and violent deaths with equal tenacity-to the point Simon Duggan’s eloquent photography of these desolate death valleys alongside Tom Holkenborg’s deafeningly propulsive score wholly plunges you into a world without any gratuitousness. Each big set piece feels like it belongs there, aware of space and story –full of camera that has fun knowing exactly what kill shot or which angle from the countless battles we want to see as it swoops over charging bodies, raging fires, monster trucks, big rigs and sand dunes.

Many things will be written thematically about “Furiosa” , including how it subverts a biblical apple scene to earn an ending or like the current environmental, militaristic, and regressive political situation we find ourselves in – especially as to why we go to war with what our leaders are doing. But also this is just a big fun popcorn movie that tells its story in an adventurous and playful way. Miller isn’t into trashy melodrama, one size fits all plotting, or made for TV art house drivel. The goal of “Furiosa” is to blow your mind. And it does. To Valhalla and beyond!

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