Thursday, May 28, 2015

Looks like I was right about Mad Max

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that 'Feminism ruins Mad Max remake'.  A number of commenters suggested that I give the film the benefit of the doubt, and wait and see.  Unfortunately, many reviews have since confirmed what I feared.  This one, from the Telegraph, can speak for all of them.

A movie that was meant to be glorifying male recklessness and brute force turns out to be a celebration of female strength and resilience. The film’s true hero is not the eponymous Max (the wonderful Tom Hardy), but its female lead, Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in a daringly unvain, shaven-headed performance that will have her bosses at Dior wondering what the hell happened to their beautiful blonde brand ambassador.

With a gaze containing more steel than her prosthetic arm, Furiosa is helping five slaves, imprisoned by the evil Immortan Joe to bear his children, to flee a desert citadel. Theron spends most of the film behind the wheel of the War Rig – half truck, half belching black dragon – pursued by a posse of testosterone-fuelled crazies. Put it this way, Furiosa would struggle to get her Girl Guide Road Safety badge.

The scene where the five “Wives” emerge from the truck, wearing garments that Victoria’s Secret might find a tad scanty, is standard fare for your typical blockbuster where girls are served up as delectable hors d’oeuvres. But the joke is on the salivating guys as the young women use everything – including a defiantly flaunted pregnant belly – to thwart their pursuers.

Add to that the Vuvulani, a group of weathered matriarchs who ride motorbikes and are handy with a howitzer, and you have a gleeful trashing of the time-honoured template where helpless woman waits to be rescued by brave man.

At a critical moment in the action, Max has just one bullet left to kill the baddie; he pauses, hands the gun to Furiosa and offers his shoulder as a rifle stand. No fuss, no loss of face. The woman is simply the better shot and that’s that. Yes, when Max washes his bloodied face in the only available fluid – mother’s milk – something symbolic is going on, but the film is having far too much fun to pull over and deliver a lecture.

. . .

Mad Max manages to do for the menopause what Lassie did for collie dogs.

There's more at the link.

Uh-huh.  As I said in my earlier article, I've seen enough of real dystopia to be in no doubt about what it means in reality - and in that reality, 'girl power' isn't.  Period.  End of story.  Suspension of disbelief is all very well, but when one has to suspend scientific, cultural, historical and practical reality as well . . . no.  Just no.



bruce said...

too bad, would have loved to see a good version of the road warrior.

m4 said...

I don't often find myself disagreeing with you, but this time I do. Is the role of women in this film really the only thing unrealistic on all the above points? Are the previous Mad Max films also free from sin on this front? I don't think we can scrutinise any Mad Max movie over realism and not find so many bugs that the movie is forever ruined.

I get the feeling that the movie may well stand up on its own merits, but not if you inspect the realism on any level. Any level.

You're welcome to dislike the role that women take in this movie for whatever reasons you hold, but it's somewhat unfair to claim that it's because it's unrealistic, when you're happy to gloss over all the other shit that the movie and its predecessors have pulled.

Mad Jack said...

I'll pass, thanks for the review. I'm not going to contribute to the global FemiNazi party, and their umbrella group, the SJWs.

Snowdog said...

I look at it this way-the movie isn't about Max. The only movie about Max Rockatansky was the first one..the rest of them were more of an oral history told by people who's lives the road warrior wandered through. He's gone from an ex bronze on the run for fuel, to a myth that wanders the wasteland.

Larry said...

Based on the way over-the-top special effects I saw in the trailer, I already had no interest whatsoever in seeing this dreck of a remake. ("I know, we'll make it better by having more and bigger explosions!!! And cowbell!!! Lots more cowbell!!! Eleventy!!!!")

Urk. And this from someone who thoroughly enjoyed "300" even though I'm more aware than most just how comic-book and over-the-top it was. This latest Mad Max effort is like a re-make of "300", but this time with Spartan wives fighting, with their husbands playing a supporting role, except this time the Persians have will fire-breathing dragons... Um... yeah. That would improve it a whole lot. O_o

Anonymous said...

I went and saw it with a number of other young, conservative guys and none of us thought it was a feminist empowering propaganda piece. One of the major supporting groups is a female only group. But they are a small part of the plot. There are numerous instances where women are physically beat down by men. The only time women come out ahead is when they have a chance to shoot a guy at range instead of grappling with them. Most of the movie is various CRAZY groups of guys driving around the desert shooting at each other and blowing stuff up. If your idea of fun is a 10-ton truck full of gunmen with a giant rack of speakers on the front with a guy rocking out on an electric guitar for 36 might like this movie.

As a counter point to the second to last paragraph. Max hands the rifle to Furiousa after he has spent half the movie being beat to crap, used as a human blood bag, and locked in an iron mask. She makes the shot but he stands up after having a heavily modified SKS go off right next to his ear without flinching. Maybe it looked different to non-shooters but I gave him the nod for more badass points in that scene.

Max washes his face off with mother's milk (harvested from captive lactating females and stored in a tank for Immortal Man Joe's special children, see what I mean about weird?) AFTER he went out to fight a tracked vehicle armed with a crazy guy blind firing (literally) machine guns with nothing but a machete and a five gallon fuel can. When he comes back with his face covered in blood most of the women freak out. Furiousa just goes "It's not his blood." Most badass? Mad Max.

I'm not saying girl power has never mad an appearance in a movie or it doesn't in this movie. But I think the "Girl power!" moments in this movie are heavily outhweighed by Mad Max being a badass and the general craziness of the movie. Seriously. Tam described it as "I thought a movie was going to break out in the middle of the two hour car chase, but they successfully held it off."

Jennifer said...

Anonymous is absolutely right. And the only reason the girls come out on top is because of Max. Yeah, Furiosa is bad ass. She's a damn fine shot, and she's smart. I'm sure you don't know any real life women this may apply to. She loses when brute strength is required.
Go see it rather than read what the Telegraph has to say about it.

Anonymous said...

I follow what you are saying about reality Peter, but it IS just a movie.
I read your thoughts on it before seeing it, and it wasn't as bad as you make it. I respect your thinking and writing, and appreciate your blogging- but in this case, how can you rip on something you haven't seen??? That is poor form my friend!
It has all the weird and crazy as the other Mad Max movies. I found it entertaining for what it is~ I do Not think it is what you made it out to be. I have seen a couple of those, they sucked.
This was fun and shocking as the other Max movies.
See it on video if ya want- I did and was worth the view
I will say this- I did enjoy the fact that the action/spectacle parts weren't so fast and chopped up with 20 camera angles, that you can't really follow what the hell is happening. (any Transformers and sadly-Jupiter Ascending, etc) That spoils a movie IMHO.

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Peter, as your friend, brother in Christ, and someone who enjoys your writings, your take down of Fury Road has me shaking my head. As someone who actually watched the movie, I did not find it to be the rah-rah-femfest that others have made it out to be. But, you know how high a standard the Telegraph holds their journalistic ethics to.