If there’s a “winner” so far from Comic-Con, it’s WB’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” which utterly awed San Diego audiences this afternoon in Hall H. Four new character posters have been released which you can see below. Here’s our inside Hall-H report.
Shortly before the Warner Bros. panel in the cavernous Hall H at Comic Con, we were handed a T-shirt that said “Comic Con 2014 Belongs to the Mad.” After seeing the panel for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” we wholeheartedly agree. Director George Miller was on hand, along with a special video message from Charlize Theron, but the real excitement came in the form of the screened footage – a mind-boggling mix of practical and computer generated effects, with car chases the likes of which have previously never been captured on screen. This is some next-level, fire-breathing, post-apocalyptic mayhem.
When moderator Chris Hardwicke asked Miller why he wanted to return to the sun-bleached landscape of “Mad Max,” Miller said: “The story popped into my head and just wouldn’t go away. Like an imaginary friend. I love chase movies, I think they’re the purest form of cinema. That’s where the film language started,” Miller said. “I wanted to make one long extended chase and see what we can pick up from the characters and story along the way.”
(Theron, in a pre-recorded message, said: “To work with George Miller is like being told you won the lottery. The idea of working with a filmmaker like George and attempting to re-imagine this world, for me as an actor, felt like such an opportunity.”)
When the footage for the movie was screened, this was pretty much confirmed. Over footage of a vast desert landscape, Tom Hardy, as the new Mad Max, narrates: “My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.” A two-headed lizard, evocative of the effects of high-powered radiation, skitters towards Max – who is bedraggled and hairy. His post-apocalyptic S&M gear looked tarnished and ragged. Max is engaged in some kind of chase, and captured by a scary man in a white gas mask that’s painted like a skull. Nicholas Hoult is in white face paint, dressed like someone from the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations (at one point he sprays silver metallic paint into his mouth).
The heathens that capture Max tie him to the front of a car and start driving towards a swirling dust storm – it’s like something from the Dust Bowl but mixed with some crazy phantasmagorical weather formation. Lightning bolts shoot down from the sky and smack into the earth with a thunderous clap. Theron is driving some kind of tanker truck, full of some unknown liquid (we’ve heard that it’s not gas…) Cars crash into each other and debris flies around. It looked insane; a cacophonous level of raw violence and, of course, fury. The idea that Miller wanted to do a pure car chase movie and get narrative and character details out through that chase very much comes across; there is barely any dialogue uttered and most of that dialogue is interspersed with grunts of exertion. This is a post-apocalyptic world, bleak and unforgiving, more heightened and bloody than anything that had come before it. It looks like all the pain they went through making this movie ended up on screen in a big, big way.
When it came to the design of the vehicles, Miller was guided by two principles. “We had to say to the designers: ‘You can only base it on real vehicles and only things likely to survive,'” Miller explained. “So things with too many computers and so on wouldn’t survive. So that was the rule that we used when it came to the vehicles.”
Someone asked Miller what the movie was like tonally, and he said that it was closer in spirit to the sequel, “Mad Max 2” (known here as “The Road Warrior”). “It’s closer to ‘Mad Max 2,'” Miller said. Then he elaborated: “Simply because it happens over a short period of time, over a few days, and it’s an extended chase. And tonally that’s more what Mad Max 2 was.” (And the footage also reiterates this.)
Of course, Mel Gibson was also brought up, with moderator Hardwicke saying that he essentially turned into Mad Max. This was something that Miller took in stride. “We all ask the question – what is charisma? Part of that is they have that internal tension,” Miller said, in regards to working with Gibson. “On one hand they are extremely lovable and on the other hand, there’s a little bit of danger. I’m simplifying it.” He said that Hardy shares the same tension that made Gibson such a wonderfully combustible Max: “Tom has that quality. He’s extremely lovable but also has a quality that’s like watching a big wild animal – you don’t know what they’re going to do next. I’ve been lucky.”
And while it’s been decades since Miller last engaged with Max and his bloodthirsty ilk, in many ways Miller feels very connected with that original mindset. “What happens is, you really put your skills and wisdom into your work. And I hope I’ve matured. I am one of those people who is quite fascinated by how the world evolves – some of it is involving and some is quite scary,” Miller said. “I look back at the old films and I can barely remember how I understood how to make them.” It all came back to him when he got back onto “Fury Road,” when he was thrust back to that primal place. “When I got to this movie and you go out there for over 100 days crashing vehicles in the African desert and you kind of lose yourself and are working off instinct and gut.”
When “Mad Max: Fury Road” burns rubber onto the screen next summer, it promises to transport audiences to a place at once familiar but also totally new. Max is a character who seems even better suited to today’s fucked-up world than ever.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD art work from the panel pic.twitter.com/wofnBiG3I5
— LatinoReview-Kel (@Latinoreview) July 26, 2014
Bad guy of Fury Road is the Toe Cutter from the original! Same actor, not same character.
— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) July 26, 2014
Miller says Fury Road will be tonally close to Mad Max 2. #SDCC
— Total Film (@totalfilm) July 26, 2014
Mad Max: Fury Road looks astonishing. Vehicular mayhem on a scale we’ve never seen before. It’s like the best Top Gear special ever made.
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) July 26, 2014
George Miller on stage says Fury Road is pretty much an extension of The Road Warrior. It’s an extended chase that takes place over 2 days.
— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) July 26, 2014
“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood” HOLY CRAP the footage for FURY ROAD was insane. Dirt, dust, violence, & SO much crazy #SDCC
— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) July 26, 2014
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD footage looks UNREAL. Dirty, grimy, mean, WEIRD. Visually staggering. Never seen its like.
— Russ Fischer (@russfischer) July 26, 2014