George Miller’s Justice League fell apart and he’s spent the majority of the last three decades working on dramas and kids films (to much acclaim, I might add), so when it was announced that he would return to the Max Max franchise that had sat rotting in the dessert since 1985, a little bit of doubt crept in. Could Miller re-find the magic after so much time away from the dessert wasteland? Could he sell Mad Max to a new audience that has grown accustomed to violent post-apocalyptic tales and would the old audience reject a continuation of the franchise without Mel Gibson?
After watching the official teaser trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road (embedded below), some of those questions are still without an answer (and new ones are posed, like might this be over the top?), but with regard to those worries about Miller, one thing is clear: never doubt a genius.
Miller called the film, “a western on wheels” and a “105 minute car chase”, but those words — and the descriptions that I’ve seen of the trailer — seem like a massive undersell when compared to the contrasting dance of grace and mayhem that is revealed in the trailer. Watch it for yourself and marvel at the way that this can look, at once, like a Mad Max movie and unlike one. This really looks like a brilliant marriage between both Miller’s and cinematographer John Beale’s styles.
I love that we start down low and in the dirt before we hear Tom Hardy for a second — “my name is Max” — and then see the Interceptor with that blower kicking on before Max hits the road hard while in the midst of a chase. It feels familiar, but then the Interceptor is in pieces and it begins to feel less so. Notice how these car chases appear to be more pulled back and less in your face than in the originals at times. There is an artistry and a polish to the action here, even when we spy things that might be more than our eyes should be asked to handle, like that shot of fire and lightning and darkness and combat.
There is seemingly little attempt to copy the lo-fi nature of the earlier films, and though that might displease a few traditionalists, it would be fraudulent had they tried. Miller has evolved, this is something new that will surely recall something old, but they had to make an effort to give us something worthwhile and fresh, or else what’s the point? As the release (May 15, 2015) gets closer, I imagine we’ll learn more about the characters and the story (what there is of one, Miller has said that he didn’t write script and that the film is mapped out across 3500 storyboards), but from a purely visual standpoint, Mad Max: Fury Road looks tremendous.