Mad Max: Fury Road (Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 2-Sep-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Making Of-Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road
Featurette-Making Of-Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Road Warriors: Mad and Furiosa
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Tools of the Wasteland
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome,
Featurette-Fury Road: Crash & Smash
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 120:23
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George Miller
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Hardy
Charlize Theron
Nicholas Hoult
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Josh Helman
Nathan Jones
Zoë Kravitz
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Riley Keough
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Junkie XL


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    In the three decades since the release of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, franchise mastermind George Miller has participated in a number of questionable projects, helming the likes of Babe: Pig in the City and the two animated Happy Feet features. But 2015’s long-gestating Mad Max: Fury Road suggests that the Australian filmmaker has found his mojo again, creating an insane post-apocalyptic action movie beset with the franchise’s idiosyncrasies; it retains a feral and at times darkly comic edge, and this wasteland is inhabited with perverted supporting characters. Studio involvement is what ultimately led to the misfire of Beyond Thunderdome, and it would seem that everybody learnt their lesson - Fury Road is all Miller, with the crazy filmmaker using a $150 million budget to visualise a genuinely gonzo future. Blockbusters these days are so concerned with the patented Christopher Nolan approach of dour self-seriousness and faux gravitas, which makes it all the more refreshing to witness a purely fun spectacle like this. It’s a large-scale, R-rated Mad Max movie, and the best action blockbuster in decades. It’s a genuine gift.

    With the world now reduced to a stark desert wasteland, former law enforcer Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) traverses the wilderness in search for food and water to sustain his existence. But following a chase, Max is imprisoned by maniac Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who rules a fortress known as the Citadel, farming water from the ground and giving precious little to the thousands of starving denizens. On a mission to collect gas for Joe, driver Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) decides to go rogue, smuggling Joe’s five wives (Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Courtney Eaton) out of hell in search of a fresh start. In hot pursuit are Joe and his War Boys, with Max brought along for blood transfusion purposes. Freeing himself after a struggle, Max uneasily forms an alliance with the women, while a War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult) is also keen to help out as Immortan Joe and his marauding army rapidly close in.

    Although Fury Road may be perceived by some as a reboot, that’s not entirely accurate. These days, reboots feel the need to start with an origin story, in the process negating all the preceding flicks, but Miller wisely avoids this increasingly frustrating trend: Fury Road is more or less Mad Max 4, and although it arrives with a brand new cast, it can easily be considered a sequel to the Mel Gibson films since it doesn’t ignore or contradict them. Rather, it simply feels like another movie set in this post-apocalyptic future, which is fitting since the previous Mad Max movies were never inherently tied to one another in the first place. The result is incredibly refreshing; a film that plays equally well for fans as well as the uninitiated. It even opens with a voiceover reminiscent of Mad Max 2 which sets the tone for what ensues.

    Pacing is one of Fury Road’s strongest suits, as this picture really moves. The first half-hour or so simply flies by, boasting an efficient opening segment that leads into a breathless vehicular chase that’s genuinely gripping. Although the picture fundamentally amounts to one long chase, it does feature some downtime to develop the characters, even introducing a hint of pathos as Nux is shown to have retained some semblance of humanity in this crazy world. Moreover, Miller does wisely by developing the characters and plot through visuals, in turn never letting the pace lag. The film has gravitas and a political voice, but a lot of the themes and metaphors are subtly conveyed through the visuals rather than excessive dialogue. It enriches the already extraordinary experience, and also allows the flick to improve on repeat viewings. Admittedly, with Furiosa doing a lot of heavy-lifting, Max does seem almost like a secondary character, but that’s always been the case with the sequels - Max simply finds himself in a crises of good vs. evil, and chooses a side. What matters is that Max actually has things to do and has a bearing on the ultimate outcome of the narrative, two boxes that Fury Road ticks.

    Miller recaptures the spirit of the earlier movies by relying on grittiness and practical effects, an incredible feat for a blockbuster in the 21st Century. The lunacy is executed using stuntmen and real vehicles, with tastefully-utilised digital effects reserved for removing wires and safety harnesses. In fact, beyond a brief sandstorm sequence, there appears to be no CGI at all beyond a few tiny touch-ups, which generates the type of raw thrills that we haven’t seen since the ’90s. One has to wonder just how Miller managed to stage and shoot some of the action beats, as they are genuinely off the hook. Miller and cinematographer John Seale sustain the chase sequences exquisitely, building and maintaining a sense of honest-to-goodness tension by refusing to show any degree of sentimentality towards the characters. Beyond Thunderdome’s kiddie ensemble were 100% safe from harm, but characters here are constantly killed off. It’s sensational, and the mayhem is scored to perfection by Junkie XL, whose thunderous compositions add extra oomph to this phenomenal movie. Fury Road is brutal to boot, and features a few delightfully gory killings. Miller’s penchant for realistic injuries (he used to work in a hospital) again surfaces here, though the R rating is not pushed to its boundaries.

    The Mad Max series has always featured gaudy production design, and thankfully this aspect is retained for Fury Road. It’s a fever dream of details, with Miller obviously having a ball for his return to the Mad Max sandbox. With the biggest budget of the series so far, Miller brings his insane vision to vivid life. Vehicle designs are ridiculously awesome - there’s even a car/tank hybrid that looks beautiful - while another crazy character spends his time handling a flame-thrower guitar. And then there’s the character names, with awesome monikers such as Rictus Erectus, Immortan Joe, The Bullet Farmer, The People Eater, and the Doof Warrior, to name a few. Fury Road is 100% off-the-rails insane in all the right ways, turning what is essentially one long chase into a showcase of unique screen artistry alive with textures and details. You seldom see this type of innovation in modern cinema. Furthermore, although lensed digitally, Fury Road looks gorgeous, carrying a celluloid aesthetic of scorched oranges, reds and yellows, making this a colourful antithesis to the typical post-apocalyptic look of bleak, desaturated colours. Miller shot the movie in real desert locations, and the result is something that cannot be replicated by computers or sets.

    A lot has been made of the ostensible feminist propaganda within Fury Road, as Miller enlisted the help of feminist Eve Ensler to create strong female characters, but such complaints are rubbish. For starters, using female warriors represents a fresh angle for the series, and Furiosa is the only strong woman here outside of a group of elderly warriors who have lost their humanity, just like the men in this harsh world. Miller does not pander to cheap “girl power” tropes, nor does he depict the females as being stronger than the men. If anything, the movie promotes gender equality; both sides suffer casualties, and no gender is given any special treatment. Besides, Ensler was reportedly used to merely enhance the characters, specifically the rape victims, helping Miller to handle sensitive issues with utmost care and attention to detail. The whole “feminist propaganda” argument is being blown way out of proportion.

    Arguably, Gibson could still have reprised his iconic role of Max for this go-round, especially since the aging actor is still participating in action films, but Hardy is nonetheless a worthwhile replacement. Hardy does wisely by not mimicking Gibson - he essays his own version of Max. Although the star’s British accent does occasionally slip through, for the most part he’s top-notch, and more instalments featuring Hardy as Max would be most welcome. Meanwhile, Theron is the most notable newcomer, playing the female lead with real gusto. Hoult is also worth mentioning, as he’s very good at playing crazy. Hugh Keays-Byrne played the villainous Toecutter in the original Mad Max back in 1979, and returns here as new villain Immortan Joe. Decked out in an elaborate costume, Keays-Byrne is superb, exuding menace and emerging as a tremendous physical threat.

    Despite the extraordinarily assured finished product, the outlook for Mad Max: Fury Road was not always positive. Principal photography was carried out and completed in late 2012, with the production undergoing extensive reshoots almost a year later. Release dates were cancelled and shifted on a constant basis. The budget kept soaring, making a PG-13 rating an almost certainty. Not to mention, it was always going to be hard for anybody to replace the eminently badass Mel Gibson in the titular role. But lo and behold, Fury Road delivers and then some, representing a one-of-a-kind summer treat that will make you bemoan the lack of similar endeavours. If there’s anything to complain about, it’s the abrupt ending. Both Mad Max 2 and Beyond Thunderdome closed with narration to further solidify the mythological figure of Max, but such a touch is absent here, and the flick feels somewhat incomplete without it. Nevertheless, the very few missteps do not diminish the experience of this deliriously entertaining action flick, which demands to be seen on the biggest possible screen.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Flawless. That’s my one-word review of Fury Road’s absolutely staggering 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer. It’s reference quality from top to bottom, exhibiting spot-on clarity, sharpness and detail.

    First, let’s discuss the 3D. The movie was shot in 2D but converted in post-production, and the results are about as good as can be expected. Some shots do exhibit fine depth, but other shots suffer from the unfortunate pop-up storybook look. Still, the 3D presentation contains very little in the way of encoding anomalies; I detected no ghosting, and only some light banding from time to time.

    Now, the 2D transfer is a thing of beauty. Shot with an array of digital cameras, this transfer is thoroughly gorgeous. You can sit there and marvel at the insane detail and artistry in each shot. Detail levels never falter, no matter how much dust or dirt flies across the screen. Colours are bold and faithful to Miller’s intentions, with the palette favouring oranges and reds to convey the blistering heat of this desert.

    Black levels are inky and deep, while shadow delineation is spot-on and there’s plenty of depth to the image. I cannot say enough good things about this transfer. It is a treat to watch in high definition; it could not look any better unless it was in 4K. Fans of the movie will be over the moon.

    There is only an English subtitle option available. Sampling the subtitles on my display, they do their job well enough. Even in 3D, they’re formatted correctly and don’t hurt your eyes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The only thing more impressive than the flawless video is the sensational audio. Mad Max: Fury Road is a vicious, bombastic movie, designed to give your surround sound a great workout, and to have your neighbours knocking on your door to complain about the noise.

    The movie is encoded with a Dolby ATMOS track, but for those who aren’t ATMOS compatible (myself included) the audio defaults to Dolby TrueHD 7.1. And my word, this track is something to behold. The sound design on this movie is extraordinary, and every tyre screech, gunshot and motor blast is replicated on home video for maximum impact. The subwoofer is put to very good use to give extra oomph to the audio.

    The track makes smart use of the surround channels, too, creating an incredibly immersive experience. Even during the quieter moments, subtle atmospherics come into play. Fans who enjoyed Fury Road at the cinema as much as myself will find this Blu-ray to be a godsend.

    There is only one other audio option available; an English descriptive audio track. Non-English buyers beware!

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   Not a great deal of extras, but what is here is of a high standard.

Menu

    As with most Roadshow titles, we just get a boring static menu with music.

Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road (28:38)

    Kicking off the extras is an excellent half-hour documentary which examines the rigorous eight-month shoot in Namibia. The doc looks at the challenges of using predominantly practical effects, as well as the insane storyboarding process, and George Miller’s vision. I would have definitely preferred this documentary to have been twice as long, but it’s still full of interesting information and insightful behind-the-scenes footage.

Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels (22:37)

    Not just a puff piece, this is another genuinely interesting documentary which focuses on the cavalcade of vehicles used in the production. Various crew members chip in to talk about the design and creation of various automobiles, and the interviews and interspersed with fun test footage and behind-the-scenes stills and videos.

The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa (11:18)

    The third featurette on this disc is a short one concerned with the film’s two main characters. Hardy and Theron are both featured prominently here; they discuss their roles and how difficult the shoot was at times. The fact that Hardy replaced Mel Gibson is also briefly touched upon.

The Tools of the Wasteland (14:26)

    Another all-too-brief featurette, this particular piece looks at the insane detail that was omnipresent throughout the set design and props. Essentially, the production designers were left with buckets of junk with which to assemble the various props glimpsed in the film. The artistry is simply staggering, further underscoring why this movie is such a visual masterpiece.

The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome (11:11)

    The last major featurette in this set is dedicated to the five actresses who portray Immortan Joe’s wives. The ladies discuss the rigorous shoot, the way they bonded on the production, as well as their personalities and costumes.

Crash & Smash (4:02)

    This is a treat. Four minutes of raw footage and behind-the-scenes video, set to Junkie XL’s insanely exhilarating score.

Deleted Scenes (3:20)

    Three short scenes are included here: “I Am a Milker,” “Turn Every Grain of Sand!” and “Let’s Do It.” None of the scenes add much, but they are a nice addition to round out the extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In terms of bonus content, all releases worldwide are identical. The American release, however, does come with French, Spanish and Portuguese audio and subtitle options. But unless they really mean a lot to you, the local release is fine. Buy local with confidence.

Summary

    The best movie of 2015 is a stunner on home video. Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially an Australian arthouse movie disguised as a big-budget blockbuster. It is a gift from the filmmaking Gods, and I cannot speak enough words of praise about it.

    Video and audio are thoroughly flawless, though the 3D presentation isn't perfection. The release comes up a bit light in the extras department, but maybe that's got more to do with my expectations. When the inevitable special edition re-release comes along (Miller has talked about releasing the movie in black & white), we will hopefully get a lot more supplemental material to dig into.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, September 07, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
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