When your post-apocalyptic movie opens with credits set to a pop song, it's not really post-apocalyptic anymore. It's a James Bond film. And when you put a pop star into that post-apocalyptic movie, you're stunt-casting (and getting a hit soundtrack to boot).
The film opens with a few key call-backs to Mad Max 2, but almost no reference to the original.
|This dude is quite SAXY, but not as saxy as Max's former wife.|
Because, let's face it, the sequel had overshadowed the original by this point, and still does. Max is robbed by his gyro-copter buddy from The Road Warrior. Only, it's not his gyro-copter buddy. It's the same actor, but not the same character. Keeping up?
|He's surprised you noticed him at all...let alone in two movies...|
When a movie tries this hard to remind you of other movies, you should be worried.
Apparently, as the 80s really set in, everything became a parody of itself. Like a comic-book version of reality where the audience needed less subtlety and more...well, just zero subtlety at all.
|Nope, not comically over-the-top...|
|Good with a gun...|
|...and, um, better with a gun.|
And then things get weird. And not in a good way. Because Max is rescued by a tribe of children. Yep, children living the Ewok-lifestyle save the most badass of badass men to exist after the apocalypse. And the children have a prophecy that predicted Mad Max would come to them. But really, it's not a prophecy...it's movies! The movie is getting all meta. Even with the movie-screen-staff, called "the tell"...ugh...
|That aspect ratio sure does look familiar...|
So, does that make us, the film-watchers, the children in this meta-metaphor? Hey filmmakers, probably not the best idea to relate your audience to children. Just saying.
It's like someone else took over directing and scripting duties after the first part of the film in order to infuse "heart." Things start off with a bunch of badass Mad Maxing going on for the first hour, and then George Miller said, "Yah, so-and-so's got it from here. I'm off for a nap. I'll pick up at the end for the chase scene."
And we end up with "Mad Max and the Lost Boys" for the sagging middle of the movie as a result.
|Just what I want in my post-apocalypse...a sea of children.|
|Max sleeps best on the radioactive sand of a deserted wasteland.|
Clearly, this movie is a mixed-bag. A sprinkle of good, with the after-taste of bad. It doesn't come close to living up to The Road Warrior, but it's more post-apocalyptic than the original Mad Max. Ultimately, there's about twenty-five minutes of the film that really sink it. On top of that, the effort to make it an "up" ending while keeping Max out in the apocalypse strides an awkward line. It's worth watching. But not more than once.
We'll see what Fury Road brings on May 15th...