The Future Belongs To The Mad: My Predictions of The Action Film's Future / by Kenneth Buff

I've recently spent a lot of time watching the three slightly different trailers of Mad Max: Fury Road. If you haven't seen any of them yet, do yourself a favor and log onto youtube, click that HD quality button, and let your eyes soak in the magic of practical special effects. That's right, I said practical. 90% of the special effects in this film are practical. Meaning no computers were involved in the visuals. When you see flames shooting out of the barrel of a guitar-flamethrower, flames are actually shooting out of that guitar-flamethrower. Yeah, this is that kind of a movie.

So, let's turn the clocks back a little, and talk about the history of Mad Max. It started as a little indie post-apocalyptic science fiction movie in Australia in 1979 (this was before post-apocalyptic films were a thing). The film stared a pre-fame Mel Gibson and was written and directed by George Miller (the director of Happy Feet). The film was a huge success and Miller was offered the director's chair for big Hollywood films, such as First Blood (the first Rambo), but declined in favor of doing a Mad Max sequel, which in America we call Road Warrior (the rest of the world calls it Mad Max 2). Road Warrior was an even bigger success than the original. It upped the action, upped the desperation, and set the tone for every post-apoclyptic film that has come since. Road Warrior became a pop culture phenomenon that persists to this day in the form of video games (The Fallout series), television (The Walking Dead), and in movies (Resident Evil). The sequel to Road Warrior, Mad Max: Beyond Thunder Dome was released three years later. It featured the now emphasis thunder dome, a domed-steel cage that's walls and ceiling are covered with weapons. Two men enter one man leaves. But other than that the film just wasn't as satisfying as the previous entry. The series would be put on hold for 30 years.

Now enter Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller has wanted to make this movie for decades. There were ups and downs, Gibson was originally planned to reprise the role, but as time went on he simply aged too much to perform the stunts required for the film. Miller considered making a CGI film at one point, hoping to create an anime style movie, but eventually he opted out of CGI, and went on to create the live action fourth film. The entire film was storyboarded prior to production. Miller wanted the film to be understood as easily in Japanese as it would be in English, meaning this film is all about visual story telling. Oh, are we in for a treat. If you've seen the trailers you already know what I'm talking about. This film looks like a moving painting. The colors are vivid and complementary, the characters are easily identifiable as hero or villain without any previous knowledge of the series (no character other than Max has appeared in any of the previous films) and no narration is required, and the action is beyond anything we've seen in a big budget film in decades. The sheer volume of crashes, and stunts in the two minute trailer gives you just a taste of what the film is going to be. Miller has went on record stating that the film is basically an extended version of the tanker chase scene of Road Warrior, which is to say that this film will change cinema. 

Let's look at the current landscape of film. Most of the year we don't get anything worth watching. Every season has its film type that will be released. January and February are where movies go to die. March and April see a slight pick up in quality, a drama here a drama there, maybe a decent indie film will sneak in, but mostly we still get crap. It's not until summer that the big films  come out, and now-a-days, the big films are super hero CGI extravaganzas, or they're Transformer CGI extravaganzas. Fury Road is the opposite of that. It's a practical effects, visual loving, film that features a character who is a mortal human being. His super power is that he's resourceful and can drive a car well. Sort of like Vin Diesel without the super powers that go along with a Fast and Furious movie. This film is going to be big. Simply because it's different. No one expected 300 to be the hit that it was, but people wanted to see something that was not only different, but cared about the story that it was telling. And look what happened afterwards: films began mimicking it. The slow-mo fight scenes and mono-chrome color palette became a staple for sand and sword epics (think The Rock's Hercules, Immortals, Wrath of The Titans ext.). That's what Fury Road is set to do for the action genre. We will see more practical action extravaganza's after Max lays waste at the box office. There's a reason Warren Brothers have already signed Tom Hardy for three sequels to a series that hasn't seen the light of day in 33 years. That's because they know this film is going to blow people away. Forget The Avengers people, this is the movie of the summer.