Movie Review: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Published 5:00 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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By Lauren Bradshaw

Special to The K-V Dispatch

George Miller has done it again, finding a way to make a new story in the MAD MAX universe into a cinematic spectacular. FURIOSA, a prequel to 2015’s FURY ROAD, is a masterfully shot epic, with the best storyline of any MAD MAX film yet. Could it (and should it) have been shorter? Absolutely. But overall, if FURIOSA is a harbinger for what we can expect from the summer blockbuster season, we are in for a great couple of months.

FURIOSA’s story is as ambitious as it is engaging from beginning to end, focusing on the universe building and lore of the MAD MAX universe. Whereas FURY ROAD has a combination of long car chase scenes with story sprinkled throughout, FURIOSA is an engrossing story that begins when she is just a child. Abducted from her home in the matriarchal Green Land of Many mothers, a land of lush greenery and ample food/water, Furiosa (Alyla Browne/Anya Taylor-Joy) is taken to Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), the leader of a raucous biker gang. His rule is shaky at best and is tested even more when he fails to overthrow rival warlord Immortan Joe and his band of ultra-loyal war boys. But while Furiosa may be seen as a pawn Dementus and Immortan Joe’s jockeying for power, she has a singular focus of getting back to her homeland and preventing anyone else from finding out where that is.

I never thought anyone would be able to equal Charlize Theron’s performance as Furiosa, but Anya Taylor-Joy comes mighty close. She has the uncanny ability to express so much despite her character only having maybe fifteen lines of dialogue using her eyes alone. Surprisingly, Taylor-Joy isn’t even introduced in the film until about an hour in, but she commands the screen the second she arrives and is in pretty much every scene from then on. Alyla Browne, who plays young Furiosa, is equally compelling, sensitizing audiences to the heart of Furiosa and what propels her character for the rest of the movie. Weirdly, Miller decided to use CGI to make Brown look more like Taylor-Joy; and while it works in many of the scenes, it gives a weird uncanny valley effect in others. I could tell something was really off and thought I was the one going crazy until I saw an interview where they talked about the addition of CGI.

This must be the summer of stunts because between FURIOSA and THE FALL GUY, I have had a reawakened appreciation for the amazing stunt work and action scenes gracing our screens so far this year. More than anything, I loved that a majority of the scenes appeared to use practical effects (instead of being predominantly CGI). I was constantly amazed by the scope and scale of stunt performers and background actors inhabiting each scene, particularly the large-scale motorcycle chase and combat scenes that looked like they must have taken months to choreograph and film. Their performances really are key to creating the desolation and hopelessness of the MAD MAX universe and the mass hysteria caused by resource depletion.

The one thing holding FURIOSA back from surpassing its predecessor is its bloated runtime. There is definitely room to cut chunks from the film’s 2 1/2 hour runtime, particularly in some of the prolonged action scenes. I can enjoy watching explosions and car chases as much as the next person, but after awhile you start to get a bit numb to the action and it slows down the film’s momentum. Had Miller been tighter with the editing, I think FURY ROAD would have had a run for its money.

FURIOSA is without a doubt the kind of movie you are required to see on the big screen, no excuses. Only in theaters will you be able to take in the film’s phenomenal sound design and more importantly get to relish in Simon Duggan’s breathtaking cinematography, which showcases the sweeping Australian landscape, on the biggest screen possible. The film’s color palate alone, emphasizing the burnt reddish tint of the sand and dusty atmosphere, is not something that could ever be properly distinguished on an at-home TV. So do yourself a favor, especially over the four-day holiday weekend, and enjoy FURIOSA in theaters and all of her glory.

FURIOSA does have some additional scenes in the end credits from FURIOSA and FURY ROAD. However, it is not worth staying until the bitter end; there is a one second flash of a hood ornament on a dashboard at the very end and that’s it.

My Review: A-