Gender Roles - Women
Self Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 5 Stars
Furiosa is both a fighter and a survivor. She's hardened by circumstances, but still cool and patient enough to fool the reigning power structure into trusting her with one of the most powerful vehicles in their arsenal of war machines. Furiosa also has the heart of a hero, volunteering to free Immortan Joe's wives from captivity despite the additional risk as she sets out in search of her homeland. She isn't threatened or intimidated by their beauty, but comes to their aid in solidarity and in defiance of a culture that believes that women, or anyone who is weak or defenseless, is the property of those in power.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 4 Stars
Furiosa has a fierce confidence that goes hand in hand with her warrior persona. She isn't rattled by the possibility of failure or even death, but confronts every obstacle as if there is a solution - no matter how difficult or far-fetched.
While some die-hard warrior women are overtly sexualized - forced into impractical outfits that offer them little protection from bullets or swords, Furiosa is never bothered with appearing feminine. She's often covered in black tar and dirty clothing and even sports a mechanical arm in place of the limb she's lost. She has other ways of taking charge in this world and getting what she wants than batting her eyes. And she is certain to be remembered as a force to be reckoned with, rather than another pretty face wielding an assault rifle.
Immortan Joe's wives, on the other hand, do fit the more traditional role of women in this sort of film. They are draped in loose white cotton, with their legs, shoulders and midriffs exposed, and are more or less included to excite the more animalistic senses of male audiences. But regardless of the costuming or the obvious sex appeal, these women also have a bit of grit to them that challenges an easy categorization
as mere eye candy.
Plot: 5 Stars
Furiosa is the unequivocal hero of this film. Mad Max may be the title character, but this story is about Furiosa's struggle for freedom and redemption. Mad Max is just a lost soul in the wrong place at the wrong time who ends up coming along for the ride. Like most action movie heroes, Furiosa isn't given the opportunity to prove herself in ways that don't involve high speed maneuvers or fist fights. There is no strategy or deception involved in her battle against the power structure. But even in this testosterone fueled contest of muscle and explosions, Furiosa is able to hold her own with the best of them.
Supporting Characters: 4 Stars
Mad Max also introduces us to a host of fiery women from Furiosa's homeland. More women like her, who've been trained for battle, hardened by grief, and are fiercely protective of their freedom. These women may be slightly disadvantaged by their gender or their maturity, but they still pose a legitimate threat to those in power. They have a place in this post-apocalyptic world that is somewhere in between victim and hero. Their survival is not secure, but their determination is. From the moment the final battle begins, we can rest assured that they won't be taken prisoner. They will either come out victorious or they will die trying.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Men
Gender Roles - Men: 2.5 Stars
As is typically the case in these sorts of action films, the men are as violent and lethal the women. But Mad Max still ensures that its male heroes are more than heartless killing machines. Max himself is a walking testament to the sort of deep emotional scarring that men can experience when they feel that they weren't strong or agile enough to protect their families. He is constantly assaulted with images of his deceased loved ones, making him borderline insane.
Immortan Joe's warboy, Nux, is also thrown into an emotional tailspin halfway through the film, when he realizes that he's failed his supreme leader and lost his chance for glory and life in the hereafter. Nux is initially crushed by the defeat, but it also gives him the chance to re-evaluate his loyalties, his desires, and his role in this short and unforgiving life.
This isn't to say that the men in Mad Max are shining examples of negotiators and communicators rather than foot soldiers and mercenaries. But at the very least, we can see that they haven't been reduced to mere muscle and extinct, despite Max's claim that that's all that's left of him.
Character Development: 2 Stars
One thing Mad Max is missing is any form of character development. The dialogue is sparse and entirely predictable and we're only given fragments of backstory - not nearly enough to transform these characters into unique persons rather than archetypes.
It would have been fascinating to learn how Furiosa lost her arm. To understand why she was spared the miserable life of a breeder and how she rose to power within this vile community. Or to experience the moment when she learned that Immortan Joe was responsible for her abduction and her mother's death. Sadly, we aren't even privy to the crucial moment when Joe's wives beg Furiosa to rescue them, or how she comes to craft her plan of escape. All of these little pieces could have been introduced in small doses to add a bit more dimension to our heroines. But unfortunately, if this history was ever there, it was dropped in favor of car chases, explosions and other action-themed sequences.
In a post-apocalyptic world, a rebellious woman named Furiosa betrays a powerful warlord, Immortan Joe, who controls the food and water supply of a struggling and destitute population. In an attempt to rescue Joe's wives and return to her homeland, Furiosa steals a war rig and sets out across a barren landscape - with Joe, his warboys and a fleet of death metal machines in hot pursuit. But if Furiosa is to succeed in her suicide mission across the desert, she may need a little help from a wayward stranger named Max.
Kelly is a labor law