We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.
2015 is shaping up to be one of the biggest movie years in recent memories, though it will hardly go down as the most original. Nearly every big movie announced for this year is a sequel or reboot of a tried-and-true movie franchise. While all of these films look like potential crowd-pleasers, one of the more intriguing reboots set to be released this Summer is Mad Max: Fury Road. In a year where we’re getting more of what we’ve seen in the past, this reboot of director George Miller’s legendary dystopic sci-fi action trilogy looks to at least give us an updated spin on a thirty-six year old film franchise, much like what J.J. Abrams is set to give us with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Miller’s franchise began humbly with the original Mad Max, a 1979 Australian import that gained a sizeable worldwide cult following and made a superstar out of its leading actor, Mel Gibson. Set in a post-apocalyptic Australia where several of Earth’s natural resources are in short supply, Gibson plays a disillusioned former police officer named “Mad” Max Rockatansky who battles a rogue motorcycle gang to avenge the death of his family. The popularity of the original film led to 1981’s The Road Warrior (entitled Mad Max 2 in Australia), which sported a much bigger budget and much more elaborate special effects and stunts, and 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which featured fewer car chases and a rare screen performance from music legend Tina Turner. In the three decades that followed the third film in the franchise, Mel Gibson went on to further fame as a leading man and Oscar-winning director, as well as a great deal of infamy resulting from his personal demons, while George Miller found great success in directing many popular family films such as 1995’s Babe and 2006’s Happy Feet, as well as their much-less-successful sequels. Mad Max: Fury Road marks his return not only to the franchise that made Miller a famous filmmaker but also to the action genre itself.
Aside from the awesome trailer that was first shown at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, not much is known about Mad Max: Fury Road aside that it now stars Tom Hardy as the title hero, co-stars Charlize Theron, and promises a number of insane stunts and action set pieces. It still remains to be seen whether Fury Road marks a complete reboot of the property or is set within the continuity established by the original trilogy. Given the fact that The Road Warrior is set five years after the original Mad Max and Beyond Thunderdome is set fifteen years after The Road Warrior, it seems likely that Fury Road will be an untold tale of Max’s further adventures in the world established by Miller back in 1979.
While fans of the original Mad Max trilogy are obviously thrilled by what they’ve seen so far of Fury Road, there is some debate on whether it will truly live up to the original films’ level of quality. Just three years ago, Prometheus brought back another long-dormant film franchise with its original director in tow, and some would agree (myself included) that the results were somewhat problematic. There is also the issue of whether the inevitable use of CGI and modern camera tricks will make it seem too different from Miller’s original filmmaking style that it could turn off the fans of the original trilogy. These concerns will probably have no bearing on the movie’s box-office take, however, as its trailer has already generated a large amount of positive buzz leading to its opening day of May 15th, but I for one hope that Mad Max: Fury Road stays true to the spirit of its predecessors while at the same time pleasing a wide audience to the point where it raises awareness of the original trilogy among younger viewers. While the new Star Wars and Avengers films are expected to be great and to break box-office records, several film fans are also hoping that Mad Max: Fury Road proves itself worthy to be part of the same conversation with those surefire blockbusters this year.