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Die Historic

Posted on the 03 June 2024 by Sjhoneywell
Film: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Format: Sycamore Theater, Theater 2 Die Historic

There’s a huge problem with prequels, and nowhere is that more evident than in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (which I’m going to call Furiosa from this point forward). Actually, there are multiple sets of problems with prequels, and Furiosa exemplifies exactly one set of such problems nearly perfectly. One type of sequel has the problem of technology. We see Prometheus and the technology is amazing. Alien, the film it leads into, has technology from the late 1970s. It looks off, and no one seems to have figured out that if you’re going to make a prequel like this after huge real-world technology upgrades, it would be better to make the prequel a lot more retro to fit the universe.

No, Furiosa is the epitome of the other set of prequel problems—the audience knows the story. We know going in that this is going to be the backstory for Charlize Theron’s Furiosa character from Mad Max: Fury Road, and because of that, we know a lot going into the story. Because of this, and because this is something that needs to be talked about in detail, you can consider the rest of this mildly spoiler-y for both of the recent Mad Max-iverse films.

For instance, we know in Fury Road that Furiosa is missing her left arm right about at the elbow. That means that at some point we’re going to have to see her lose her arm. There are a bunch of characters in this movie who are in Fury Road, so we know they are going to survive this movie. Additionally, there are a number of characters in this movie that don’t appear in Fury Road, which means they aren’t going to make it out of this one. Because of this, I was able to successfully predict the fate of pretty much every named character but one—there’s one character who seemingly survives the film and does not appear in Fury Road.

We’re going to start in the “green place” talked about all throughout Fury Road and we’re going to discover that she was not taken by Imortan Joe (Lachy Hulme in this case), but by a group controlled by Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), a leader of a huge wasteland biker gang. Furiosa’s mother Mary Jabassa (Charlee Fraser) attempts a rescue but is eventually caught and tortured to death, but refuses to give up the location of the green place. Furiosa—and that is her actual given name, not a nom de guerre--is essentially adopted by Dementus, who eventually discovers Imortan Joe and the other massive fortresses and their leaders. After some posturing and negotiating, Dementus takes control of Gas Town, but gives up Furiosa as well as his private doctor, the Organic Mechanic (Angus Sampson).

Much of the first hour of the film is spent with a much younger Furiosa played by Alyla Browne. I saw the movie with my wife’s cousin, and when Anya Taylor-Joy finally showed up on screen at about an hour in, he leaned over and said, “Well, now the movie can start.” He wasn’t wrong. Furiosa is about a half hour long than Fury Road, and that half hour could very easily be removed from the backstory—this much really wasn’t necessary.

Anyway, Furiosa discovers that she is very much at risk for being sexually assaulted (especially when she is tossed into the vault with the rest of the wives), so she disguises herself as a boy and essentially becomes a mechanic and helps build the first war rig. She also stows away on it, and when the rig is attacked, she helps defend it and is the only survivor along with the driver, Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke). She still wants to get to the green place of course, but Jack tells her that he needs to rebuild his team. He’d like to start with her, and he will teach her the necessary skills to survive that will allow her to get to the green place when she has the necessary skills to do it successfully.

As I said above, there’s a lot here that we know is going to happen because of people who are or are not in Fury Road. That is the biggest problem with Furiosa, but it’s far from the only problem in the movie. Another major issue is that Furiosa is a much smaller movie in a lot of respects. There is a huge road battle, the one mentioned above, but that is the only huge action set piece in the film aside from a battle at Bullet Town—and this one wasn’t much of a road battle; it’s a lot more stationary. The stunts seem smaller and the world itself seems smaller, too. Prequels and sequels have a tradition of ramping things up. If there’s a T-Rex in one movie, there’d better be at least two in the next one. Furiosa takes the opposite path and gives us fewer and smaller action sequences, while also running 28 minutes longer.

Don’t get me wrong; Furiosa is a well-made movie, and if it had been possible to make this before Fury Road, I would have been duly impressed. The comparisons to the early movie are natural, though, and because there is simultaneously less excitement and more running time, it’s hard to be terribly excited about what is here.

The bigger sin is that Furiosa isn’t necessary. I like the character just fine, but I don’t really care about her backstory. I don’t care how she lost her arm. I don’t care why she rubs grease on her forehead. I don’t care about Imortan Joe’s sons’ backstory. What I want is car chases, explosions, and a dude playing a flamethrower guitar. The excitement that surrounded the first film simply isn’t in this one. Part of that is size and scope and part of that is expectations. Regardless of the reason, though, Furiosa feels superfluous.

Why to watch Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga: George Miller’s world building is tremendous.
Why not to watch: Sadly, this movie isn’t necessary.


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