Reasons for watching it: Mad Max really couldn't be less my kind of thing, but the internet got excited about it and I thought it might be worth trying something outside my comfort zone.
Circumstances of watching it: Actually had a free evening for a date with my husband, and we planned it a bit at the last minute and there wasn't anything obvious on so we defaulted to the classic dinner-and-movie. We had dinner at the new (ish, I haven't been paying very close attention to changes in Regent Street shops) Turkish restaurant, Çinar. Good food, a bit more distinctive than the somewhat generic Mediterranean served at many mid-range Turkish places. It felt a bit over-priced for what was on offer; I'll probably continue preferring the vegetarian platter at Efes. And then we had a bit of time and wanted something sweet, so we got bubble tea from Chatime. I liked their offerings a lot better than Ooshi just up the road: drinks actually based on tea and fruit rather than just combinations of sweet syrups.
And then we wandered up the road to the Arts Picture House. The small cinema was pretty much packed, so we had to sit right at the front, but on the positive side it looked like a rather more mixed audience than might be expected at action films like that.
Verdict: Mad Max : Fury Road is a successful Big Dumb Action Movie, but not much more than that.
I honestly don't have anything much to say about Mad Max : Fury Road. Lots of people have snarked it as a two-hour car chase, and yes, it pretty much is. I didn't find the violence distressing because there's almost no breaks from explosions and vehicles smashing into eachother and bloody, brutal fights to give the viewer a chance to become emotionally engaged. For me the rare quiet parts of the film, the scene in the crow land and the moment when Furiosa meets the women from her culture of origin, seemed much more tense and exciting, because you need some variation in pace, some contrast, to actually care.
The world building makes completely no sense, but I just accepted it as "evil despot does evil things" and "post-apolyptic landscape is bleak and awful" and didn't do any thinking at all. It's not even a question of suspension of disbelief, I almost feel like it would have been better if they'd started in medias res and literally had two hours of car chase, rather than trying to have a set-up or a plot at all.
It's "feminist" in that, well, it doesn't have any on-screen rape. And it passes the Bechdel test, somewhat remarkably in a film that has almost no dialogue at all. (To be honest it wasn't clear to me that the women did have names, but there are a dozen or so of them who are clearly established as characters and have names in the cast list, so I'm willing to count them.) It's an action film that mostly stays away from being misogynist soft porn, though only mostly. That's pretty much it; I really found it hard to see what the fuss was about, either from sad hurt MRAs and Gators who think it's a betrayal to get feminism in their action flicks, or from feminist commentators who think it's the greatest amazing breakthrough.
I did really like Charlize Theron's Furiosa, she's a really well drawn character. And it's true that women, particularly women with visible disabilities, don't get to be heroes in action movies all that often. I mean, it's still an able-bodied actor playing a disabled character, but at least Theron sometimes remembered to walk like a person with a limb deficiency and not like someone who has had part of her arm rubbed out by CGI. She had no romance arc, she didn't get rescued, she was on a quest which she accomplished by bravery and violence and ingenuity and tenacity. But aside from the representation issue, she's just really well acted.
If you want analysis I recommend marina's review, or ruthi's collected links. Me, I just enjoyed the thrills and the very pretty cinematography with my brain entirely switched off. I don't really recommend it as a date movie, but if you like escapist action that gives its women about as much personhood as its men (which is to say, not much in either case since it's basically about the car chase and the weapons, and the dystopian slave society where individuality is forbidden anyway), it's an option.
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