You'd have to be even madder than Max to skip this Blu-ray outing for George Miller's car caper
It's been 30 years since 'mad' Max Rockatansky last graced the silver screen with a new adventure. Judging from this two-hour filmic firecracker, time has done nothing to diminish the character nor the ambitions of his creator, 70-year-old Australian writer-director George Miller, who returns to the wastelands for a spectacular sequel/reboot of operatic proportions.
This time around Max (Tom Hardy) gets caught up with five young women fleeing their lives as wives of grotesque warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). They're heading across the desert in search of a better life, guided by Joe's turncoat lieutenant, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Cue two hours of breathtaking, rubber-burning vehicular pandemonium…
Picture: Colour graded to within an inch of its life, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most visually striking and distinctive-looking big-budget movies to emerge from a Hollywood studio. Primarily painted in a gritty and highly-detailed sepia tone, this monochromatic aesthetic is broken up by strident patches of vivid colour – most notably golden stretches of sand and the rich reds that accompany explosions and jets of flame.
Warner Bros.' AVC-encoded 2.40:1 Full HD Blu-ray presentation of the film captures all of the above perfectly. Colour saturation is excellent, fine object detail is meticulously reproduced and shadow delineation is strong, giving a sense of depth to even the darkest sequences. It is, quite simply, magnificent.
Despite being yet another post-converted effort, Mad Max: Fury Road’s MVC 2.40:1 3D presentation proves to be rather proficient from a purely technical standpoint. Depth of field is particularly impressive, helping isolate the vehicles from the wastelands they’re navigating, and there’s a very smooth and natural progression of elements from the back to the front of shots. Miller’s penchant for big close-ups also delivers plenty instances where you feel like the imagery could spill out of the screen at any moment.
Technical issues such as crosstalk and ghosting were nowhere to be seen during the film’s running time, while the inherent dip in brightness doesn’t have any impact on the vibrant colour grading. The only slight issue is that the kinetic nature of the cutting sometimes proves a little dislocating when dealing with stereoscopic imagery, but this is a small problem with what proves to be a very impressive 3D experience.
Picture rating: 5/5 (2D) 4.5/5 (3D)
Audio: When it came to sound design, the main thing we took away from seeing Mad Max: Fury Road at the cinema was how insanely loud it was. Revisiting it on Blu-ray, courtesy of the platter's Dolby Atmos soundtrack, revealed so much more.
While the audio is every bit as powerful as you'd expect from what is essentially a two-hour car chase, it's not a simple wall of noise. There's a sense of purpose and considered design to every element, with the clarity and range giving you ample opportunities to savour it all.
Comparing the core Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix to the Dolby Atmos stream it's hard not to be impressed by the way in which the latter enhances your acoustic enjoyment. Music and atmospheric effects regularly expand out into the height channel, creating a more coherent and immersive experience.
The sound designers aren't afraid to play around with more specific positional effects either, with a moment in Chapter 2 where one of the War Boys knocks on the roof of the War Rig to get Furiosa's attention causing you to look up involuntarily.
Given the attention paid to all of the other speakers in your setup (including the subwoofer, which puts in a serious shift here), it's a pleasure that the centre channel isn't forgotten. Amongst the shifting sounds and dynamic pans, the centre-channel provides a stable anchor for dialogue (what little there is), ensuring that even Hardy's muttered ramblings are discernible.
When it comes to picking audio highlights, it's practically an impossibility: dial up any of the film's 13 Chapters and you'll find yourself lapping up a dazzling aural soundscape full of tactile effects and astonishing dynamics. We've given this a five-star audio rating, but in all honesty it easily deserves six!
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: Warner's Blu-ray release of Mad Max: Fury Road looks slightly underwhelming when it comes to bonus features. Yet while there aren't all that many to dig into, overall they're of a high standard and do a solid job of exploring the making of the film.
The half-hour Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road starts off like a traditional overview of the production (with particular attention paid to storyboarding), before moving into detailed accounts of the creation of some of the film's key stunt sequences.
Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels runs just shy of 25 minutes and takes a peek at the design and creation of nine of the film's post-apocalyptic automobiles, including recreating and enhancing Max's iconic V8 Interceptor.
The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa (11 minutes) is somewhat less involving. This features stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron discussing their characters, and their impressions of the director and the movie. Understandably they're ecstatic about both.
The Tools of the Wasteland (14 minutes) focuses on production design and props, while The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome (11 minutes) talks to actresses Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton.
Finally, there's a four-minute reel of production tests, behind-the-scenes video and raw footage with no CGI enhancements or grading; and a trio of very brief and forgettable deleted scenes.
Extras rating: 3/5
We say: A breathtaking Blu-ray presentation of the year's maddest action blockbuster. Buy it now!
Mad Max: Fury Road 3D, Warner Bros., All-region BD, £28 Approx
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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