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Article by Teddy Durgin

It's OK to go crazy for new 'Mad Max' movie - by Teddy Durgin - There was a period of my young life that really shaped me as a movie lover. It was the stretch of time from May 21 to June 25, 1982. In just those 35 days, the U.S. box office saw the release of "The Road Warrior," "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "Poltergeist," "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Blade Runner." I don't think escapist cinema will ever again get a confined amount of time when that many game-changing films will get released. Now, I didn't see all five of those flicks in those five weeks. But they still saturated my glassy-eyed, pop-culture consciousness. And while I grieved Spock's death, thrilled to E.T.'s resurrection, breathed a sigh of relief when that house was clean and pondered how all these moments would one day be lost in time like tears in rain... it was that enigmatic Road Warrior who would come to needle at my psyche over the years. His was the only story that never seemed completed. The other movies had starships and phasers, cuddly aliens and flying bicycles, scary ghosts and creepy TVs, futuristic cityscapes and gleaming speeders. "The Road Warrior" had bleakness, brutality and scorched earth. It also had poetry. It had an opening narration that began with the words, "My life fades... the vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams and wasted land. But most of all, I remember the Road Warrior." Images of war and famine and lawlessness then followed, ending with, "He became a shell of a man; a burnt-out, desolate man haunted by the demons of his past. A man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here - in this blighted place - that he learned to live again..." Oh, hell yes! I mean, this was some game-changing stuff to an 11-year-old. I was like a little, crazed Dennis Hopper from "Apocalypse Now" in that suburban Maryland theater, muttering, "This flick is enlarging my MIND, man! The Road Warrior's a poet! A poet in the classic sense!" I was clear in my mind, but my soul was suddenly mad... mad for movies like THAT ONE! It's taken over 30 years, but I've finally seen another flick... like that one! And wouldn't ya know it, it's "Mad Max: Fury Road." I try not to give myself over to hyperbole where movies are concerned. So, I keep my adjectives fairly confined in my positive reviews to words like "great" and "wonderful." But I save words like "genius" and "masterpiece" for special films. There's no doubt about this one. "Mad Max: Fury Road" is a genius masterpiece. Writer-director George Miller is a man who basically defined the post-apocalyptic genre years ago, helming all three movies in the "Mad Max" trilogy. A myriad of filmmakers have played on this barren landscape since. Now, Miller's returned to point them all in a new direction. This isn't the case of a young filmmaker looking to stake his claim. This is an old guy with a chip on his shoulder, a fist in the air and a gravelly voice telling those young'uns, "GET OFF MY LAWN!!!" Tom Hardy takes over for Mel Gibson and is excellent in the role - a character who was once a cop, but lost his wife, child and society, and then became that shell of a man. He now exists in a world ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a warlord who controls what little resources are left and rules over a bizarre kingdom of survivors in which he enslaves women for breeding and milking and has enlisted every able- and near-able-bodied man to drive and scavenge for him. However, the real hero in this tale is actually a heroine, Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa, who drives Immortan Joe's prized war rig. On her latest run for fuel, though, she has stashed away Joe's five Victoria's Secret-caliber brides with the plan of breaking off from her mighty convoy at a key point and heading for the mythic "Green Place" that she remembers from her childhood. It doesn't go as planned and a brutal, nearly two-hour car chase across an unforgiving desert ensues. I could write more. But I just want to end this review with the hope that you'll go on this ride soon on the big screen. I'm sure if this makes enough, we'll be seeing more "Mad Max" movies in the future. But I hope we don't. Everything now seems conceived to go multiple movies, telling stories that never seem to really end. I would be happy one day if I was an old man muttering to my grandkids, "And the Road Warrior? That was the last we ever saw of him. He lives now only in my memories... and that scratched-up Blu-Ray over there. Let's watch!"

"Mad Max: Fury Road" is rated R for violence and disturbing images.


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