After a gorgeous 35 mm presentation of George Miller’s immortal “The Road Warrior” last night at the South by Southwest Film Festival, the Australian filmmaker appeared onstage to make a special presentation of a new sequence from his forthcoming “Mad Max: Fury Road.” During a Q&A afterwards, he showed a new sizzle reel that was compiled for the festival and CinemaCon. Both were pretty mind blowing, reinforcing the sensation that the May-opening “Mad Max: Fury Road” will exceed expectations.
The first bit of footage that Miller showed seems to take place right after the big chase sequence showcased at San Diego Comic Con last year. This was a huge, jaw-dropping sequence with the giant armadas and the guys attached to towering poles and a swirling sandstorm that tosses cars around. The new sequence opened with the trashed vehicle belonging to Nux (Nicholas Hoult). He’s unconscious and is chained to Max (Tom Hardy), who has a crazy mask that looks like what would happen if a medieval sword maker designed the Hannibal Lecter muzzle. Not only is Max chained to Nux, but he’s also connected him by some kind of IV (he rips it out with a wet squish). He tries to get out of his shackles but cannot; he’s chained to Nux’s wrist. Max takes out his sawed off shotgun and points it at Nux’s wrist, and in a great callback to “The Road Warrior,” the gun misfires. So Max slings Nux over his shoulder and starts tromping through the wasteland (the same scorched post-apocalyptic hellhole that we have all come to know and love).
Eventually he comes across a group of women led by Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and including Capable (Riley Keough), Toast (Zoe Kravitz), Splendid (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and Fragile (Courtney Eaton). They’re washing themselves with water, to which Max growls “water” (after the footage was screened, Miller said that this was the first word that Max says in the entire movie, 20 minutes in). Splendid tries to free Max of his chains but can’t. And that’s when he and Furiosa start to brawl. And it’s a terrific fight. The sequence is both comedic and intense, displaying Miller’s gift for upping the ante in terms as it unfolds, although the footage appeared slightly sped up, like watching a Blu-ray at 1.5x speed (it was unclear if this was an issue with the usually peerless projection at the Paramount or a stylistic decision on Miller’s part). At some point, Nux wakes up and joins in the fight, using the chain that links him and Max to trip Furiosa. Finally, Max gets his grubby hands on an actual working gun and fires several bullets at her.
After Miller talked about the footage, noting the similarities between “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Road Warrior,” he introduced the new sizzle reel, which is even more impressive than the mind-blowing SDCC footage or the recent promotional trailers. This was the broadest montage of what the film could be, with more emphasis on the cars (Furiosa drives a magnificent big rig) and action sequences, including the sandstorm set piece and bits that showcase one of the tribes worshipping a pile of steering wheels. It all went by very quickly but it certainly left an impression, and the callbacks to “The Road Warrior” got thunderous applause, particularly a bit where a character cranks a music box that sounds just like the one in the Mel Gibson starring original.
Aside from Miller screening all of “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Miller said he finished it two days prior), this was a really wonderful presentation, with “The Road Warrior” holding up surprisingly well, the new footage hinting at a very bright future for the franchise, and Miller showing up and reminiscing articulately about the making of “The Road Warrior” and where Max is headed.