Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I saw Mad Max Chromed...

George Miller's alternate edition of "Mad Max: Fury Road" (see May '15 for theatrical-release review) is served in black-and-white, or as publicity has it, in "black n chrome". The tone of the companion piece isn't illogical, either, since the film's villains worship the shiny parts of their menacing machines.  

For what it's worth, "Fury Road" really does click in black-and-white. On further thought, any Max movie would likely work fine in that format. Thematically, Max's mad misadventures project a colorless quality, at least until their final frames (the exception maybe being the '78 original). 

In my humble opinion, "Fury Road" (more than "Road Warrior" or "Thunderdome") is punctuated by uncommon hope, so much so that the prevailing black-and-white may seem out of place during the film's final frames. In fact, I'll go so far to say that even at the pivotal moment when Max (SPOILER) realizes it's best to go back and fight the baddies, a symbolic splash of color should have doused the chromed expanse (a "Wizard of Oz '39" nod to eclipse the apocalyptic woe), but who am I to judge Miller's instincts?

Anyway, it seems the chromed hues best complement the story's predatory cretin, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). That's not to say that Max (Tom Hardy)'s doleful disposition and Furiosa (Charlize Theron)'s manic drive don't jive with the black-and-white ambiance, especially when the former is used as a hood ornament. It's just that Joe's cultural hardware (the masks, spokes, skulls and grids) seem more ideally suited to black-and-white's gloom. For that matter, Joe's vehicles (and even the despairing, pale roads upon which they roar) also appear more aesthetically appealing through a bleaker lens.

I suppose some may lament Miller's second-wind gimmick, but it's far better than selling another inflated director's cut, where superfluous scenes would only stifle the action. "Black n Chrome" is, at the end of the day, a clever experiment. Max fans are certain to enjoy it, even if they're apt to return to the bright, varied hues for future viewings.

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