I’m on a panel at WisCon tomorrow afternoon where we’re supposed to come up with better metaphors for dealing with disaster than the zombie apocalypse. In preparation, I decided I should see Mad Max: Fury Road.
I had the following reactions:
- Well, OK, war boys.
- But still: Orcs.
- Where do the evil warlords in movies get all those minions?
- Why do the evil warlords build complicated and humongous industrial complexes?
- Am I the only moviegoer in the country bored by non-stop battles?
- I thought this movie was supposed to run 88 minutes. Isn’t it over yet?
On the other hand, the women characters – and the plot twists that went with them – were awesome. I don’t just mean Charlize Theron (though she was fantastic); I mean all the women characters and the actors who played them. The core of the story – the only part of the movie worth watching – was about them and they rocked it.
Before this post discourages you from seeing the movie, I should point out that a lot of people whose opinion I respect liked it a lot. And it was exactly what I expected it to be, except for the awesome women, who came as a wonderful surprise. So if you like that sort of thing, you will enjoy this movie and get the benefit of the fascinating bit of really good story that comes about three-quarters of the way through. (I won’t say more, because spoilers.)
I wasn’t taken by surprise by the movie or the fact that I didn’t like most of it. I saw and liked the original Mad Max, but I’ve lost my taste for non-stop violence since then. It might be because I’ve got a lot of achy joints from all those years in the martial arts, which gives me some understanding of pain. It might also be that having learned something about violence – including my own capacity for it – during all those years in the martial arts, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for less vicious ways of handling complicated situations.
I saw it, as I said, out of duty (see panel assignment above). It’s not the zombie apocalypse, but the Mad Max movies are probably even more iconic as a statement about the potential end of the world.
I also saw it because I heard the men who are afraid that the feminists are out to get them were furious about Charlize Theron as Furiosa. (Check out Jezebel’s take on that.) How dare someone get girl cooties on their action movie!
And you know what: the movie was full of girl cooties. Not the tea party and lace doily sort of girl cooties, but rather the tough broads who can take care of themselves even in the middle of the apocalypse type of cooties.
I guess the men who are upset about this movie are afraid that if women don’t need men to survive in horrible times, maybe they don’t need men at all. And it is true that Max is more of a supporting player in this movie. Not that he isn’t tough. And he even plays a nice role in the five or ten minutes of interesting story part of the movie.
Let me tell you frightened, angry men something: We feminists are just fine with guys like Max who can work with awesome women as equals.
By the way, this movie passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, which is not something you can say about 95 percent of the action/adventure movie genre.
So if you don’t mind – or even like – hordes of minions and non-stop battles, I think you should see this movie. It gives you all of that, plus something more.
The apocalypse isn’t going to look like that, though. If we come up with some better ways to talk about disasters at our panel, I’ll report on them later.