Anyway, we watched Mad Max: Fury Road. I have to say, going in, I was expecting it to be just two hours of mindless action, done like every other modern day action film: Star Trek, Star Wars 7, you get the idea. By which, I mean: I was expecting it to have that continuous action and no real time to pause, like older action films (e.g. older Mad Max films, the original Star Wars trilogy, Independence day) had.
...So. Technically. Technically speaking, I, uh. Was right there.
...This is how you do it right. Like...when it comes to the new Star Trek films, you can watch them, and maybe rewatch them a couple of times and still get enjoyment out of them. After that, it's just not really worth the time. With the new Star Wars film, I was left feeling similar to Star Trek, only worse: with Star Trek, I wasn't too bothered by plot holes or anything. With Star Wars, I left the theater instantly disappointed, with all the various flaws in the film evident from just the first viewing. Things that five minutes worth of extra time could have helped.
Pacing issues, how everything felt rushed, how the timing was off, how little the characters grew and forced their interactions felt, all the myriad of different things the film did that just felt wrong. I had that for the new Star Wars. I was expecting something similar for Mad Max: Fury Road.
...Except it wasn't.
I had none of those issues. The "show, don't tell" was handled beautifully. This is a movie that knew how to balance its elements perfectly. While it, strictly speaking, was one continuous brawl from start to finish aside from one or two slow scenes here and there to give the obligatory sad scenes, this is a film which manages to make it fit. The timing was excellent. The characters' development happened at an organic rate: it did not feel like it was too fast given the high-paced nature of the chase (the chronology of the film is, what, something like three very tense days worth of continuous fighting? So characters forming a bond quickly makes sense given the utter hellish nature of what they're going through), nor did it feel like they weren't growing enough.
Each character of importance--and this is a cast with like ten or so major characters--got significant amount of attention. All of them were unique, individual people. There were so many details crammed in that I could rewatch the film two or three times and still feel the need to watch it more, as to better catch elements of their characterization.
Sure, it's a bit over-the-top. It's a freakin' Mad Max film. But I was enjoying every minute of the film, in spite of my skepticism towards it, and would continue to enjoy it if I rewatched it multiple times in a row. (Something I cannot say of the new Star Treks, and CERTAINLY not of the new Star Wars.) Everything about the film was just...so...good.
Sure, it's not the type of action film I've found myself in love with. I absolutely hate how in modern days, film-makers seem to think audiences lack an attention-span. (Granted, I find the pacing of films like Blade Runner abhorrent, and the original Terminator film dragged on and on and on, so that's an example of going too far in the other direction. Yet films like T2? Independence Day? Aliens? Movies like that have plenty of slower stuff utterly absent from modern action films, and I miss it.)
Yet Mad Max: Fury Road is a perfect example of how you can pander to the film-makers by following the no-attention-span formula while still making an airtight solid film. I'm not sure what exactly is there that sets it so far above and beyond the others in its genre this way. It's some sort of magic that I can't fully explain. I can try analyzing as a very-much-not-a-professional movie critic, but honestly it'd just be me giving my best guess as to why this film does right what seemingly every single other modern action film does absolutely wrong.
Honestly, if I had to guess, I'd say above all else it'd probably be love. Love, care, and attention to detail, on all the things that matter. Kind-of like how Galaxy Quest was such a big hit for fans of Star Trek, capturing the essence of the show it is affectionately parodying. A great deal of thought went into making this film. You can tell. And, really, I think that's what makes the largest difference: actors not just phoning it in, but caring for the work. A director who wants to give the film the respect it deserves. Someone who isn't there to make money, someone who isn't there to draw audiences in and make the film intentionally pander to as many possible bases as possible to make as much cash as possible...
...And instead, just focusing on making the film. And letting those who like the film speak for it to draw those others in. I think that's the success formula that Hollywood just doesn't understand, but which lies at the heart of great success: don't compromise films trying to make it appeal to people, just make the film with love and care to tell the story you set out to tell, and let the people who want to watch that type of film come in and realize it's a film that others outside that demographic will still enjoy.
That's just how it seems to work when I think about all my favorite films. They all just don't care about being successful. They don't care about drawing viewers in. They don't care about trying to get others to watch the film. Others watch the film because they find appeal in it which was not directly intended, because the makers of the film made a masterpiece without even realizing it, because they weren't trying. They weren't focusing on getting those viewers. They instead focused on making the film be beautiful.
And it shows. Films, truly great films, films that are instantly memorable, classic, and rewatchable, all have that dynamic. Films that were meant to draw in viewers usually succeed in getting watched, but are generally forgotten. Because they're nothing special. Because they were not made to last. They were made for money, and once having made the money, fade. Until some sequel of even lesser quality renews interest temporarily, only to once again heavily fade within a few years.
Films made for love? Last forever. At least, that's what I believe. And I think that's the critical element which made Mad Max a success. I can only pray that the future of films in the genre is taken with similar care, that people realize this, and don't try to make a point-for-point replication. Trying to imitate success breeds an empty shell of a safe film that'll make money but be forgotten. Trying to make a film with love will create the next big thing.