Mad Max: Fury Road (Blu-ray)

A visual wonder and gorgeous to watch, George Miller’s latest installment of the Mad Max series, Fury Road, sucks you in from the opening moments and doesn’t let go until the closing credits. Miller has maintained the feel of the movie he began creating over 35 years ago, while successfully adjusting to new technology and filmmaking advances. The result is a truly intense and engrossing viewing experience.

Given that Tom Hardy has taken over the role first made famous by Mel Gibson, fans can debate whether Fury Road is meant to be a sequel to the last film in the series—1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome—or a reboot of the franchise. Whatever the case may be, this one doesn’t require you to have seen any of the previous films to understand what’s happening.

Former cop Max Rockatansky (Hardy) is a haunted man; haunted by the ghosts of his past. Trying to survive on the barren wasteland that is Earth, Max soon finds himself captured by mutant hordes and brought back to the Citadel, a huge enclave built into the side of a mountain and ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keas-Byrne), who controls the only water supply left. Max is forced to serve as a blood bank for Joe’s diseased male underlings, known as the War Boys. Initially, his fate seems sealed, but Max manages to escape. He reluctantly joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), the driver of Joe’s powerful War Rig who has betrayed her leader and is ferrying his five wives to a safe harbor across the desert—to the “green place” where she was born—before he can use them to repopulate the world in his image. Because things couldn’t be quite that easy, they have an unwelcome passenger in Max’s former captor, the War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a desperate soul, anxious to get in on the action. Max just wants to get himself and the six women to safety.

Co-written by Miller, the dialogue is minimal. The actors express a lot through facial expressions, gestures, and of course, physical action. Hardy is the tough, formidable, physical presence we expect. However, some of his facial expressions hint at the inner conflict he’s experiencing. Charlize Theron’s Furiosa is by far my favorite female action star. Racked with anger, she is driven by a steely determination to accomplish a clearly defined goal. Her desire to save Joe’s five wives suggests a distinctly feminist outlook.

John Seales cinematography adds to the stunning visuals. The daytime scenes are shot in a sunburnt orange that really gives the feel of the desert heat, while the night scenes are contrasted by a slightly hazy blue tint. As good as the film looks, it’s the action that really makes it special. Every minute of action is pure cinematic magic and it’s even more amazing when you realize that most of the effects are completely practical. The film is essentially a massive chase through the desert; props to the actors and stuntman for their work! Every car flip, crash, explosion, etc. was obviously very carefully staged.

Thirty years after the last Mad Max adventure, George Miller has given us another look at his post-apocalyptic vision and it’s everything an action film should be.

Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Warner Bros. 1080p presentation is simply fantastic. Clarity and detail is such that you can see nearly every speck of dust in the desert. Colors are so bright and vivid they seem almost lifelike, yellows, reds, and browns literally pop off the screen throughout the film. Blacks are inky. Contrast and delineation are superb. A fine veneer of grain is present to give the proceedings a filmic look. This is truly reference quality material, destined to be one of the best releases of the year.

The Dolby Atmos mix—Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround—is just as pleasing as the video. Engines roar and explosions sound as if you’re right in the middle of them. Every shriek and tire squeal erupts throughout the soundfield with absolute clarity. Voices are well prioritized, though some bits of dialogue are not necessarily fully understandable. This is no fault of the sound design though, as this would seem to be the filmmaker’s intention. Junkie XL’s bombastic, yet operatic score comes through fully and appropriately. Warner’s Dolby mix provides a wonderfully immersive experience as well, with exceptional directional effects and dynamics.

English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

  • Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road (HD, 28:38) Cast and crew discuss the film, the various challenges they faced, George Miller’s vision for the project, the development of the script, storyboards and various elements of the film, and more. In a sense, this featurette takes the place of an audio commentary.
  • Fury on Four Wheels (HD, 22:37) A look at the cars and other vehicles featured in Fury Road. From concept, to design, to implementation, this stuff is amazing. George Miller says he saw the cars as an extension of the actor’s wardrobes. While I definitely wouldn’t have thought of it that way, one look at Miller discussing the film throughout these clips and there’s no question, his dedication to the project was complete.
  • The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa (HD, 11:18) Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron discuss their characters, heap praise on George Miller and recount the ups and downs of filming in the desert.
  • The Tools of the Wasteland (HD, 14:26) A look at the incredible set and its individual pieces. The things that were repurposed into stuff that actually looks cool for this film are pretty amazing.
  • The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome (HD, 11:11) Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (The Splendid Angharad), Riley Keough (Capable), Zoë Kravitz (Toast the Knowing), Abbey Lee (The Dag) and Courtney Eaton (Cheedo the Fragile) discuss the extensive amount of time they spent developing their characters and the sisterly bond that developed as a result.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 3:33) Three scenes without final special effects, none of which would have added much to the story: “I Am a Milker,” “Turn Every Grain of Sand” and “Let’s Do It.” No play all option is available.
  • Crash & Smash (HD, 4:02) Unaltered behind-the-scenes footage. No CGI!
  • DVD copy of the film.
  • UV digital copy
  • Digital Copy

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