Mad Max: Fury Road

Rotten Tomatoes may have it ranked at 98% fresh today, but after seeing the Mad Max reboot for myself, I have to say I came out disappointed.

I wouldn’t say it was an outright terrible movie. The explosive road chases would be a blast to watch if I knew what was going on and what the stakes were, but therein lay my big problem with it: the story was even more threadbare than many of the characters’ costumes. There were shreds of exposition and character development scattered here and there, but not enough to weave them together into something coherent that answered all the questions raised. I got that the protagonist Max is scarred by guilt for past failures to protect certain people, that for some reason he’s teaming up with this chick who’s escorting “breeders” in white dresses across the desert, and that the antagonist is a theocratic tyrant who controls the local water supply…but that’s all I could glean. There were seeds of a good story here, but without water for them to grow, the movie ended up a chaotic mess.

And while I could tell a lot of work went into designing the costumes and vehicles, the “post-apocalyptic” environment outside the bad guy’s “Citadel” was rather underwhelming. It’s almost all flat desert with only the odd canyon, mesa, or sand dunes to break up the scenery. Putting aside how dreary I think such environments can look and how overused they are for this kind of setting, I would have expected more signs of a fallen civilization lying around to get across the post-apocalyptic theme. Why not, say, some crumbling skyscrapers, fragmented highways, or even the dusty remains of a roadside diner? This kind of backdrop doesn’t look like anyone ever lived here even before the nebulous apocalypse that set this whole story off.

At least there’s still Jurassic World to look forward to in less than a month.

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