Who would’ve thunk it? It’s thirty years since the last appearance of “Mad” Max Rockatansky, and boy has the landscape changed for the character’s two most famous creators. Australian-hotshot director/writer of the original trilogy, George Miller, is now 70 and hasn’t directed a film exclusively using “live” actors since 1992’s “Lorenzo’s Oil” (he has helmed 1998’s “Babe: Pig in the City”, with its heavy usage of animatronic animal characters, and two animated features in 2006’s “Happy Feet” and its 2011 sequel). Back in the 1990’s, it appeared Miller was solidly making the move towards prestige work (“Lorenzo’s Oil”), as well as commercial hits (1987’s popular, “The Witches of Eastwick”). It was a nice transition for the talented Mr. Miller, after the loopy, frenetic, post-apocalyptic action of the original 1979 “Mad Max”, its 1982 follow-up “The Road Warrior”, and 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”. But, to many, George Miller the filmmaker virtually disappeared.
Of course, the actor who played Max in those three iconic features, is someone a lot of people wish would disappear. But many could still be somewhat disappointed that Mel Gibson himself is not portraying the tragic “Max” that made him famous. But after a string of hits in the 1980’s and 90’s, along with an Oscar-winning directing career (1995’s “Braveheart”), Mr. Gibson’s stock plummeted nearly a decade ago after a highly offensive anti-Semitic rant, and some very distressing run-ins with police, and even members of his own family. There were also strong rumours of major substance abuse problems and homophobia. Gibson is now practically a Hollywood pariah ahead of his 60th birthday. Tom Hardy to the rescue!
The still-rising 37-year-old Hardy, most famous for portraying the villain Bane in the 2012 smash “The Dark Knight Rises”, seems fit and ready to grab the reins from the aging, controversial Gibson. The movie’s trailer appear to capture the original spirit of the first three movies in the franchise, and with George Miller back in the director’s chair, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is poised to be an early summer season smash. “Mad Max” explodes onto North American screens on May 15th. Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron co-stars.