Now that it’s over it is official: The best summer movie of 2015 was Mad Max: Fury Road. It may also be the best summer movie of the last decade, and it may be the best film of 2015, period. That we won’t know until the end of the year, but everything that George Miller accomplished with this film suggested that we as audiences have gotten lazy and let filmmakers get away with too much. Some other summer movies showcased long sequences of CGI elements fighting other CGI elements in ways that just didn’t suspend one’s disbelief. Whereas in Fury Road there are sequences that are mind boggling, as elements are obviously practical, but it would take some sort of madman genius to be able to film them. Here there is real spectacle. But that’s Fury Road.
Loosely (very loosely) following the previous three films in the series, Max (now played by Tom Hardy) is a survivor who lost his family and is suffering from severe PTSD as the film begins. He’s captured by some war boys and taken in as a blood bag for the “soldiers” of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and is shortly strapped to the front of War boy Nux’s (Nicholas Hoult) car when Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) takes off with a tanker filled not with supplies but with Joe’s five wives. From there on out it’s a chase to get to a promised land, which may be closer than suspected.
Let’s not waste any time here. Is the Blu-ray worth buying? Yes. A hundred times yes. This is a film that benefits from multiple viewings and rewards them. It’s a film that will likely be a classic because what you see on screen is both undeniable and unbelievable in the best possible way. Where so many spectacle film have become about letting ILM do the heavy lifting, in Fury Road there is a great practicality to everything on screen, and characters that you can connect with and have an inner life. Though each car chase is wonderful, I’m always drawn to the conflict between Max and Furiosa as the brides look on and as the war boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult) lays possibly unconscious. It’s an expertly staged close quarter match where both parties suffer predicaments based on geography and their limitations. But I’m also drawn to Hoult’s Nux, who goes on an emotional journey through the film, going from villain to hero. Great action is often like a musical number, and every set piece here sings with someone who can’t wait to top what came before. And here, well, it’s one of the greatest car movies in the history of cinema.
It’s worth noting what’s not on this set. There’s no commentary track, which is disappointing as this project has been brewing for nearly a decade, and there must be some great stories about the making of the film that aren’t included. Also not here: a black and white version of the film, which George Miller suggested should be a supplement. Of course you can turn the color off on your TV and watch it that way, but there’s no director approved version of it. The film is included in widescreen (2.35:1) and in Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround. The presentation is flawless, and the soundtrack is amazing, with great directional effects and a whole lot of bass. Every scene in the movie could be used for a demo of what makes Blu-ray awesome. The set also comes with a DVD and digital copy.
As for supplements there are a number. They kick off with the featurette “Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road” (29 min.), which walks through the making of the movie with comments from Miller, Hardy, Theron and more, and it offers a good overview of the making of the film, from its origin as a series of storyboards, through the filming process in Africa where they plotted how the stunts would be combined with special effects to make some of the best set pieces of the year. And seeing some of the big set pieces sans digital work it proves how much prep and care went into the making of the film. “Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels” (23 min.) goes into detail in how the cars where designed for the movie and how many had distinctive personalities in their design and their weaponry. As is apparent in the film, each car has its own little mini-narrative unto itself for why it looks as it does, as most are customized to their driver.
“The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa” (11 min.) takes a look at the stars of the movie, and Hardy and Theron both admit their relationship was contentious on set, though they both suggest it was because they were in character. It’s fascinating that the actors would speak publically about this, as most film try to hide any on-set discord. “The Tools of the Wasteland” (14 min.) gets into the props, costumes and set design, and with a film this meticulously crafted, it’s fascinating to see the tiny details that went into the look of the movie, as so much of the material is repurposed junk made to look badass. “The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome” (11 min.) gives the actresses their due, and they talk about the shooting and bonding process that went into making their characters, with all five interviewed about their time together.
“Fury Road: Crash and Smash” (4 min.) is a demo real of the pre-production and raw dailies from the film that show how much of the movie was done practically, and it’s impressive to see sequences like the pogo sticks and bike chases were done for real. Also included are three deleted scenes: “I Am a Milker” (1 min.) shows a woman offering up her baby and then herself to get better service, “Turn Every Grain of Sand!”(2 min.) shows Immortan Joe and crew torturing one of the mothers to get more information, and then sending out his warboys to battle, while “Let’s Do It” (1 min.) shows Max and Furiosa preparing for their final run. These deleted scenes suggest there wasn’t much cut out of the movie, and what was amounted mostly to little breathers as none of the deleted scenes amount to much besides unnecessary shoe leather.