This is the first instalment of an upcoming series of articles that is dedicated to the analysis of trailers of upcoming movies. Expect wild, often unfounded speculations and lot of pics!
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
directed by: George Miller
starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington Whitely
Tom Hardy takes on the iconic role that made a star of Mel Gibson in the latest instalment of this Australian cult classic! Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Mad Max: Fury Road will include a convoy of five caged women known as the ‘Five Wives’ (played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton , Riley Keough and Aussie supermodel Abbey Lee Kershaw).
What can I say, this looks damn good! The first mini-teaser has already been quite promising, but this is just insanely impressive. Maybe going though the many years in development hell and all the rumoured troubles behind the scenes will pay off in the end?
Apparently, George Miller still has “it”. It seems as if the tone would be shifting away from that of the more kid-friendly and whimsical (if still enjoyable) Thunderdome to that of the more anarchical predecessor Road Warrior, with an even more comic-bookish vibe. The trailer is permeated by an unexpected energetic streak that makes you want to hit an imaginary gas pedal under your desk. On top of that, the visuals are eye-popping and it was impossible to take a screen shot that does not look gorgeous.
Voiceover by Mad Max: “My world is fire and blood”
Okay, this is the first image and I already have to point out some criticism after all the initial gushing: That image smells a bit of Teal and Orange, an artistic choice that reeks a bit of laziness. Yuck.
The voiceover informs us that the world is still fighting over the dwindling oil reserves. Maybe people should stop driving souped-up Hot Rods through the desert at full speed, but what do I know? The car is factually still a cult object in the post apocalypse it seems and as the picture above with the creepy bald guys worshipping a nifty steering wheel/skull combination fetish proves, that statement has to be taken literally. Those post-apocalyptic people are so literal!
And the second shot that made my alarm bells go off a little: This kind of orange-y and red colour correction (or is it a filter) is the same Michael Bay is using sometimes to create “atmosphere”!
Finally the first shot of Tom Hardy as Max after we only heard his voice so far. My two cents: i have no problem with the recasting at all. Mel Gibson undeniably gave Mad Max his identity, but if you can recast Bond… Only the first and the third part of the saga showed something like a “character arc” for Max- the second part, which Fury Road seems to emulate, turned him into some kind of Spaghetti Western man-with-no-name antihero, a timeless archetype, which makes the recasting plausible, as the role can be filled by any actor (well, if he is sufficiently charismatic at least).
Half a minute in, we finally get some images of vehicular mayhem, trademark of the saga!
Actor Hugh Keays-Byrne as “Immortan Joe”, presumably the main baddie of the movie! That’s a nice and unexpected comeback for the 67 year old actor and his fans, as he already played the bad guy “Toecutter” in the original Mad Max from 1979! Note the guys in the background, holding up the steering wheels.
0:35: Now we are talking! A breathtaking stunt, captured with exciting camera angles. We also get a better look at the cars here. The original “Punk” design has apparently been updated into a modern “tribal” look, which I am fine with, as long as it does not enter the NuMetal -kitsch realm. Note that the car on the left has a guy tied to the front, as it already happened in Road Warrior.
A storm is coming. Around 0:52 we get a hint of what might be the final chase of the movie: A convoy driving right into an impressively realized CGI- sandstorm.
1:00: This seems to be a branding iron with the cultist’s symbol. Is Max the person who gets branded? We saw glimpses of him as a captive later on (see below), so it’s highly possible.
“Now pick up what you can and run”
…followed by a first shot of Charlize Theron as “Imperator Furiosa” and “The Wives” (left: Rosie Huntington Whitely, right: Riley Keough). Interestingly enough, the trailer puts much more weight on her character than on Max. It also suggests a very collaborative relationship, which is unusual for the Australian loner.
The damn cultists again.
Around 1:20, Nicholas Hoult makes his first appearance as “Nux” and everything suggest that we are in for a joyfully hammy performance by this actor, who gets a chance to act outside his usual role profile for a change. Apparently he is one of those cultists, with white make-up and lines around his lips making his head resemble a skull. I strongly suspect he is one of those “crazy” staple characters that constantly change sides between the good guys and the villains. Or is he one of the villains in the beginning and joins Max during the course of the movie?
Starting with 1:24, the trailer bombards us with a slew of “Easter egg” images, some of them hard to catch without “Pause” button.
That’s what I am here for!
1:25: Taiko drummers on a dump truck! Very cool image, but the FX seem a little unfinished. It looks like they are floating in midair! I guess the truck is supposed to be driving over the natural arch we are shown a little later.
1:25: Mad Max as a captive, falling out of a cage. Right bottom corner: A cultist! I knew it!
1:26: This guy looks as if he came right out of a comic book or video game and I mean that in a good way!(imdb tells me it is the Australian wrestler, strongman and actor Nathan Jones) Images of more vehicular mayhem follow.
After a bunch of sweet explosions, another wave of quickly edited shots follow. 1:30: A nameless villain (Rick Carter), who oddly enough resembles the gypsy woman from Drag Me To Hell, makes an appearance. Is he a helper of “Immortan” or does he belong to a third party?
Blink and you miss it: Someone is freed of a chastity belt, bearing the skull symbol again! Are the cultists some kind of twisted monks who took a vow of celibacy? (1:31)
1:32: Some kind of stone temple/water reservoir! Is “water” besides “oil” the other scarce commodity people are fighting over? Are the crazy steering wheel-worshipping monks hiding the water from the people?
I just dig the pulpy fantasy grandeur of this image, which gives me a Temple of Doom vibe for some reason. The comic book visuals are a nice change of pace after all the drab and exhausting post-apocalyptic survival epics we had the last years on TV and in movies. Fury Road seems to grasp what the post-apocalypse is really all about: Fun!
1:33: Another “Wive”, played by Courtney Eaton (foreground).
1:34: Kinda cheesy, kinda awesome.
Yet another jaw-dropping action scene starting at 1:38. Note the stunt man.
1:40: Mad Max, captured again and bound at the front of a car. Note the tasteful decoration.
1:40: The natural arch leading to the “temple” I mentioned before! Also a massive explosion. CGI or model work? I honestly cannot tell. The cars at the bottom look as if they were added during post-production.
1:43: More fabulously designed vehicles and the “pole stunt” we already saw in the first teaser. Plus the roughly estimated 50th explosion of the trailer.
Then, starting with 1:52, the “money shot”: The chase inside the giant sandstorm. It is an almost full-on computer generated scene (the actors seem to be the only “real” element) but George Miller really knows how to use CGI, maybe owed to his experience with directing the Happy Feet movies.
“What’s your name?”
2:12: We realize that MadMax/Tom Hardy has not (apart from the voiceover) said a single word during the whole trailer. Look at his facial expression: He can barely believe it himself!
Apart from a few nitpicks I have with some Teal and Orange -tinted shots, I am quite overwhelmed with what I witnessed there. Of course there is always the possibility that the makers just put all the best stuff into the trailer, but my feeling tells me that this could be the big movie surprise of 2015.
At least it looks like a major step up from the lousy promo-shots that were published recently. I for one am not afraid anymore that this could be the Crystal Skull of the franchise.