Thursday, 4 June 2015

I wanted to review Fury Road but...

but the post just kept devolving into utter fanboy drooling about how amazing Charlize Theron is as Imperator Furiosa so let's just embrace that.

[minor spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road]

I mean, just to start off with, its always nice to see Charlize Theron being cast as something other than an imposing blonde sex goddess. She's a great actress, a woman so good at projecting power (be it physical, emotional or, yes, sexual) that its a crying shame that so few directors seem to know what to do with her.

Hell, she absolutely saved Snow White And The Huntsman as Ravenna, the Evil Queen. That film was all kinds of confused about its tone and what it wanted Kristen Stewart's Snow White to be but Theron just about managed to rescue it. Up until now that was probably my favourite role she's played but Furiosa blows Ravenna out of the water.

For a start she's very clearly not being cast for her looks here. Don't get me wrong, there's not a make-up artist on the planet that can make Theron unattractive but one of the benefits of the fact Furiosa is smugglings sex slaves to freedom is that the slaves can be dressed in floaty, diaphanous clothes and coded “attractive” so Theron in her practical clothes and skin covered in layers of dirt gets to be more clearly coded “fighter” and equal to, if not superior to, Max in the narrative.

And she absolutely is Max's equal if not narrative superior. This movie is absolutely her story that we are experiencing through the period in which it intersects with Max's larger story. Max is the franchise, she is the film. This has grated the spuds of a lot of... let's just call them sensitive gentlemen who have a problem with this for some reason even though this is a perfectly common way of handling a long-running character: have them as a unifying presence in a bunch of stories about the people they encounter. I've seen it done with Batman, Judge Dredd, a few other long-running 2000AD strips and it is how Doctor Who has worked since they started doing character arcs for companions. This format basically allows there to be a defined journey with a beginning, middle and end without spending all possible development of the title character, or where all that possible development has already taken place (like with Dredd).

Furiosa kicks arse, too. She has an amazing knock down, drag out fist fight with Max early in the film and she's a dab hand with firearms. She's absolutely a product of this world as much as Max, Immortan Joe and the random gangs. Again, the presence of the sex slaves allows fantastic contrast: they are beautiful and soft and dressed to emphasise their femininity while Furiosa has very short hair, very practical clothes, she's dirty, she's muscular, she's armed. Her prosthetic arm matches the cobbled together over-design of every other piece of technology in the film.

As for her personal journey that's too spoileriffic to go into here but suffice to say that there's a fantastic consistency in how her every action proceeds from a unified set of motivations which are never explicitly explained but perfectly understandable from those actions. More characters, not just female characters but all characters in all media, should work like this.

Furiosa is a great character portrayed by a fantastic actress and hopefully by tomorrow I'll be sufficiently over that fact to actually discuss the film. 

No comments: