Mad Max: Is it a remake, a reboot, a rehash or just a complete hash?

I took the time to sit down and watch Mad Max (1979) for the umpteenth time recently – or so I thought. Have you seen Mad Max? Think very carefully about that question. Of course you have, remember? The grubby incoherent feral kid with the lethal boomerang, the roaming band of post-apocalyptic lunatics decked out in something reminiscent of a Duran Duran (google them if you are under the age of 35) music video with a tinge of sadistic hierarchical disorder. Mel Gibson and his dog. Mel Gibson and his car. Mel Gibson and his incessant broody silence, and a distinct lack of acting dialogue. That’s the one isn’t it? Don’t be too alarmed when I tell you that that wasn’t the movie that I was watching. Watch Mad Max again. Go ahead. Do it. You could soon be excused for thinking you’d accidentally started to watch some early Neighbours repeats (again google if you’re wondering what the hell this writer is banging on about). Then it hits you smack in the mouth, and boy did it hit me hard! Like me you may well realise you’ve never actually seen the first instalment of the original trilogy and you begin to wonder how on earth you’d failed to take in one of the biggest cult movies in film history. Mad Max 2 – The Road warrior (1981) was the movie I’d always believed to be Mad Max, and I have to admit that I’m relatively ashamed of my ignorance. So, in view of that shocking oversight, please believe me when I say that I hit the internet post-apocalyptic-haste earlier this week to see which plot-line the imminent remake was going to focus on, because if George Miller was about to deliver us a CGI-laden reimagining of that first story then we would have little reason to be excited, if at all even bothered, about dragging ourselves to the nearest cinema in May to see if Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron could hold our attention long enough to prevent us from giving up on this continual bombardment of remakes, reboots, rehashes, and reimagining’s from what are soon becoming incredibly lazy production studio executives. There’s $100m riding on this movie, so we’re hoping for something a bit special, but can it deliver?

Here is what we do now definitely know.

From a Warner Bros. press release last year:

“Mad Max: Fury Road Seminal director George Miller returns to the post-apocalyptic universe he created three decades ago with the cultural phenomenon Mad Max. Tom Hardy reinvents Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road, Millers extraordinary new take on the legendary character for a new generation of fans.”

Hmmm. Not much to go on there. A ‘new take’ from Miller? Just what is a ‘new take’? We need more please Mr Miller. We’re happy with the brilliant Tom Hardy though, but we knew about his role back in 2010. This has certainly taken its time.

From a Warner Bros. press release earlier this year, after fans demanded some further information from the writer and director on what to expect:

“An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.”

Okay. That’s a little better, and thankfully puts the worry to bed over whether or not we were going to see a remake. This is no remake. This is a reimagining, and if the trailers are anything to go by then we’re in for a treat. We’ve got two fine actors in Hardy and Theron. We’ve got a huge budget and the entire Namibian desert to blow things up in, drive around maniacally in, and generally cause utter mayhem in. We’ve got some bad guys who genuinely look the part this time around. But most importantly it looks as though we’ve actually got a storyline to look forward to from the man that most recently brought us…oh hang on. Something looks amiss. No, not amiss. Something looks very, very wrong indeed, and it’s important that we take into account just what the writer, director, and producer of the original trilogy, and this remake, George Miller, has been up to in the intervening years. Look away now if you’re remotely squeamish because this list of production credits for the man in charge is utterly terrifying; Babe (1995), Babe: Pig in the City (1998), Happy Feet (2006), Happy Feet Two (2011). What just happened?! Oh yes. That was the feeling of disappointment and considerable worry that just entered through the front of your brain and left via the exit marked ‘gutted’ at the back on its way out…

Is there any chance that we can rekindle our hope for the ‘new take’ on the movies that threw Mel Gibson at the feet of Hollywood’s finest? Can Theron and Hardy give us enough to remain hopeful? Have we been blinded by the flashing lights and trickery of the CGI-filled trailers? Did Warner Bros. really give $100m and some outstanding talent to the man who gave us Babe: Pig in the City? Well, the short answer is yes. The long answer will be revealed on May 15th, and it could be a very long answer indeed if this goes pear-shaped. In the meantime the advice I’ve been given is just about holding firm. Keep watching the trailers and try to remember the last bad movie Tom Hardy was involved with (Spoiler: There isn’t one!) and everything will be just fine…we hope.

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