Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Mad Max, Fury Road is Now My Favorite Movie of All Time, and Why Hollywood Needs to Take Notes From It.


I went with a group of friends to see Mad Max, Fury Road last night. Over the last year, my hopes in regard to the upcoming Mad Max movie had shifted from dubiously guarded, to ecstatically hopeful. By the time the movie arrived, I knew I was going to enjoy it. The question was simply, would I like it? Or would I love it?

The answer is a resounding I utterly adore Mad Max Fury Road to the end of all things.

There are so many areas of adoration to cover, that it would be almost impossible to get them all discussed, so for this post, I'm just going to focus on a huge factor that the rest of Hollywood has been floundering with of late. Women. For the last several weeks women in action movies has been the theme of numerous headlines, none of them good. Heroines have been undermined on posters, and in toys lines, they've been thrown under the bus due to their sex lives and written clean out of parts that are rightfully theirs.

If all the aforementioned bullshit plucks your nerve, then let me humbly suggest that you get your ass to the nearest theater and watch Mad Max Fury Road. Yes, it's a movie about Max Rockatansky. But it's also a movie that embraces women. I mean seriously, and honestly embraces them, without any reservation. Doubt me? Here's a small list (because I'm super tired, and I overworked myself today, so a list is easiest) highlighting the female embracement going on in Mad Max FR.

- Max is only one of the main characters, not *the* main character. He shares the podium equally with Furiosa.

- Furiosa and the Wives thoroughly beat Max's ass when they first meet each other. Not by luck, by brute strength. In fact, Furiosa would kill Max, if not for faulty shotgun shells (nice nod to Mad Max 2, there)

- Furiosa and the Wives save themselves. Repeatedly. Yes, Max is with them, and he's fighting as well, but the women hold their own, despite that one of the Wives is 8 months pregnant, and all of them have been kept as prisoners for at least the last several years of their lives, and have not allowed to do anything for themselves.

- Furiosa and/or the Wives save Max repeatedly. True, he saves them here and there as well, and Nux, the War Boy is not to be discounted, but the women do a huge amount of saving each other as well as saving both Max and Nux.

- Furiosa is first introduced to us as an Imperator. She is held in awe by all of the War Boys serving in Immortan Joe's army of 'half lifes'. A literal army of men view Imerator Furiosa with reverence and respect, and take orders from her without ever questioning her. So profound is their devotion to her as a leader, that when she drives her War Rig off course, abandoning her supposed run for a gasoline shipment, the War Boys with her don't immediately question her actions. Also, she does all the mechanics on her War Rig, she built it and she maintains it.

- At a pivotal moment, when it all hangs in the balance, and Max has already missed one shot (and only had two bullets to start with) he hands the gun to Furiosa, and tells her to take the shot, putting his faith in her without hesitation. She nails it perfectly.

- Once Max, Furiosa, the Wives and Nux are all on the same page, and have managed to escape (temporarily) the reach of Immortan Joe, the People Eater, and the Bullet Farmer, they discover that their destination is a place that no longer exists, but at the same time, they're reunited with people Furiosa grew up with. Who are all women.

- This is where we learn that Furiosa grew up among the Many Mothers, a group of all-female tribes. The Vuvalini are the last of these tribes, and though they regard Max and Nux with guarded acceptance, they readily welcome Furiosa and the Wives.

- When the lot of them eventually decide to return to the very Citadel they escaped from (in hopes of gaining control of it, since Immortan Joe and all of the War Boys are still after them) which means charging directly into their enemies, the Vuvalini readily join forces with them. To Nux and Max, this is the best chance they have. No one ever questions the decision, even though it means a group of maybe a dozen women (and two men) are going up against hundreds of male warriors.

- Through the ensuing battles, the women - Wives and Vuvalini alike - fight shoulder to shoulder with Max and Nux, just as powerfully as either man. In one instance, Furiosa actually catches a falling Max by the ankle with one (prosthetic) hand and drives while holding him upside down out one window. Oh, by the way, she's doing this during and after she's been viciously stabbed by an enemy and she never falters.

- Mad Max doesn't kill the ultimate bad guy, Immortan Joe. Though he does kill the two side-kick-type baddies (the People Eater, and the Bullet Farmer, whom Furiosa had already blinded with her perfect shot) It is Furiosa, with the help of the Wives, who destroys Immortan Joe, and subsequently end the war.

So, there you have it. There is virtually no part of Mad Max, Fury Road that doesn't utterly and unfailingly embrace women and all of their strengths. Why the rest of Hollywood can't do this, I don't know. But if you want to see the most badass, high octane, action packed, gender equal movie hitting the big screen this year, I suggest you go see Mad Max, Fury Road.

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