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Mad Max: Fury Road (3D Blu-ray Review)

21 Aug, 2015 By: John Latchem

Street 9/1/15
Box Office $ 152.78 million
$29.98 DVD, $44.95 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D Blu-ray

Anthology — 5-disc set, $89.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.
Stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton.

One of the great joys of the “Mad Max” movies is seeing all the crazy vehicles that roam the deserts of director George Miller’s apocalyptic wasteland, but Fury Road takes it to a new level.

Massive tankers, modified tanks and heavily armed muscle cars abound, but top prize has to go to the truck modified with 64 giant speakers to showcase the talents of a musical maniac wielding a guitar that shoots flames.

Fury Road maintains the aesthetic of the franchise established in the second film, 1981’s The Road Warrior, relying heavily on desert and steampunk motifs (in the 1979 original, Max was a cop dealing with a biker gang in a relatively normal-looking world).  Visually, Fury Road fits in nicely despite coming 30 years after the previous “Mad Max” film, Beyond Thunderdome, and while Tom Hardy doesn’t quite have the presence of Mel Gibson in the title role, there is so much action driving by that viewers won’t have time to notice.

As with the previous films, Max encounters an eccentric warlord seeking control of futuristic resources, and finds his own survival is tied to helping others escape the bad guys, leading to a massive chase across the dunes involving fleets of cars and cadres of mayhem and destruction.

This time around, Max finds himself in league with Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who is attempting to smuggle five nubile young brides away from a gruesome mutant of a man named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the bad guy in the original Max).

Among the brides are Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz and Riley Keough, Elvis Presley’s granddaughter. (Max stumbling upon a bevy of gorgeous half-naked women treating themselves to an impromptu shower in the middle of the desert is certainly an unexpected sight for a “Mad Max” movie and its usual population of the grimey and grotesque.)

The film is a kinetic masterpiece from the get-go, barely slowing down to catch its breath for a solid two hours while coming up with ever-more creative stunts and setpieces to thrill the audience.

This makes the film especially effective in 3D, even though it was converted in post, because the action is so visceral. Seeing motorcycles jump around a huge tanker or a monster truck crash into a canyon wall would be spectacles on their own, but seeing them fly off the screen really adds something to the experience.

The Blu-ray includes six featurettes totaling an hour-and-a-half, plus three deleted scenes running more than three minutes total.

The behind-the-scenes programs give a pretty substantial glimpse at how the film came together. The longest one is a half-hour look at the making of the film, with an emphasis on the stunts. Another featurette looks at the design of the vehicles in the film; one focuses on the contributions of Hardy and Theron; one deals with the creation of props and costumes to enhance the used-in but functional look of a dystopian future; there’s a featurette about the actresses who play the brides; and there’s a four-minute reel of unenhanced test and stunt footage.

It would have been nice to see a comprehensive documentary about Fury Road's place among all the "Mad Max" films, but maybe it's a bit too early for that. There is a two-and-a-half-hour documentary called The Madness of Max included with the new Mad Max Anthology boxed set of all four films, but this is just an extensive retrospective about the making of the first film.

However, The Madness of Max is so exhaustive in its scope that it's hard to imagine any fan of the franchise would be disappointed with it as it ticks through all the aspects of the film that have sense become legendary (including how American distributors, fearing the Australian dialogue was too hard to comprehend, re-dubbed the film with American accents). Luckily, the copy of Mad Max includes both language tracks, as well as a commentary.

The discs of the first three films in the anthology are the same that have been previously released, both individually at as part of the earlier trilogy set from a few years ago (fans would be well advised to pick up Shout! Factory's Blu-ray of the original film, which contains additional bonus material). The Anthology also includes only the 2D Blu-ray disc of Fury Road, and no UltraViolet code, so anyone wanting the digital copy of the film with the disc will have to pick up one of the film's solo combo packs.

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