Back in 2014, Mad Max: Fury Road had to be one of the year’s most welcome surprises, with talks of reshoots, bad test screenings and on-set issues months prior, people feared the worst, even when the trailers looked good. Then, the film roared into cinemas like a lunatic rally and blew our collective socks off! 10 Oscar nominations (6 wins) later and George Miller can unleashes what he calls “the best version” in The Black and Chrome Edition. Essentially a black and white presentation of the film, this Blu-Ray also comes with the colour version too but, is it worth the colour-drained transfer?
In a word yes! True the special features (barring George Miller’s brief intro to the Chrome film) are the same as the last Blu-Ray release of the movie but, should you not already own it, this is simply a must buy and if you do own the film, seeing it the way the director intended is worth it. For those who have not seen the movie, it is a reboot of Miller’s Mel Gibson-led post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise and sees Max Rockatanksy (Tom Hardy) trying to survive the dangerous wastelands, as he is captured by the forces of a warlord called Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne - who fans will recall played the big bad Toecutter in the very first Mad Max). However, loner Max will soon find himself caught in the midst of a struggle as rig driver Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has stolen something from Joe and he leads a full-force assault to reclaim “his property”.
Miller’s remarkable reboot remains a modern action classic, which sees the director’s outrageous, outstanding and anarchic aspirations achieved with jaw-dropping practical effects spectacle and a screenplay rich with timely ideas and incredible depth. In fact, in the mere 2 years since its release, you could easily argue the film has become more relevant. You know, what with its story of fighting an oppressive old man, dictating to the desperate masses, blinding them with ideology, while objectifying and using women as he sees fit from his towering home. Ring any bells?
Hardy is an excellent Max, silent and near emotionless, he’s a road warrior plagued (but also aided) by the ghosts of his past and beaten down by this ravaged, afflicted, earth. While Keays-Byrne, 35 years on, again delivers a gruesome villain in Joe, who is imposing (with toothy mask and booming voice) yet inherently weak, ruling through fear over force. There is also great support, especially from Nicholas Hoult as “war boy” Nux, who is a tremendously sympathetic figure. However the film is stolen by Charlize Theron, who is a new age action hero as Furiosa and her liberative tour de force of a performance is captivating.
However, we know the film is mental, manic and marvellous but how does the film fare in Chrome? Well, as George Miller says in his brief intro, this really feels like the definitive version of the film, in fact, at times, it is like you are watching a new film entirely. The early scenes at Immortal Joe’s Citadel recall the artistic backdrops of silent films classics like Lang’s Metropolis, while the film as a whole reminds of the sensibilities of the early cinema epics. The monochrome amplifies John Seale’s cinematography, creating some powerful silhouettes thanks to the light, shadow and shades of fire. Each scene becomes a discovery of new depth and the night scenes blue/grey-ish tint gives the images an even more lingering and at times haunting quality, alongside Junkie XL’s perfect score.
So yes, Fury Road in colour or black and white is a visionary masterpiece of its genre and elevates the scuffs and scratches of Miller’s sand-strewn post-apocalyptic tale of redemption and freedom. Like Frank Darabont’s masterful Horror The Mist, the special effects bleed into the film even more in B&W and overall, this transfer feels like a whole new experience. Oh what a version, what a lovely version!
Special Features: Featurettes / Deleted Scenes / Chrome Edition Introduction by George Miller
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD BLACK & CHROME EDITION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: GEORGE MILLER / SCREENPLAY: GEORGE MILLER, BRENDAN MCCARTHY, NICO LATHOURIS / STARRING: TOM HARDY, CHARLIZE THERON, HUGH KEAYS-BYRNE, NICHOLAS HOULT / RELEASE DATE: 15TH MAY (ALSO IN SELECT CINEMAS ON 30TH APRIL)