REVIEW: Mad Max: Fury Road (Black & Chrome Edition) @ Tyneside Cinema

Posted on May 11th 2017 by Whats on Northeast

Words: Josh Teggert for Cuckoo Review

Let me begin by quoting Director George Miller commenting on this release: “Losing some of the information of colour makes it somehow more iconic.”

Nearly 2 years ago to the day, Mad Max: Fury Road exploded ferociously onto the big screen. It now stands as a modern pioneer of the immense success that large franchises can achieve by using practical effects over CGI wherever possible (over 80% of the film is shot in this way). Re-released now in monochrome, this version of Mad Max: Fury Road is just as thrilling to watch as it is in colour; if in radically diverse ways.

Initial stipulations for Fury Road included making the film as colourful as possible. It is unusual, then, that Miller should be calling this desaturated edition “the best version of the movie”. In fact, this is the style in which Miller always wanted to release Fury Road, and ultimately, it isn’t hard to see why.

The 2015 version is certainly a stylish film; winning Six Academy Awards including Best Production and Costume Design. But the blend between action and monochrome is remarkably tasteful here; it can be strongly argued that Fury Road is the ideal film for this sort of translation. The black and white itself is never flat; it’s not just a simple case of putting a filter over the screen. Plenty of extra contrast is added to the image which enriches the movie nicely, creating a chilling atmosphere at points.

Although unfortunately, in black and white it loses a lot of the emphatic impact of the flaming guitars, and the incredible stunt work isn’t quite as staggering. For a film based primarily on its visual effects, this does take its toll on the overall product.

In contrast however, the outstanding performances by the cast are wonderfully enhanced, hurling the audience back to the golden age of cinema; where movies were dependent on the principle cast’s integrity to be an effective movie, not special effects. In the moments where Fury Road isn’t putting the Fast and Furious franchise to shame with its exceptionally filmed car chases through the Australian wastelands, the personal moments are somehow even more forceful than in the original. Miller is indeed right about the absence of colour making a film feel strangely more distinctive, and Fury Road benefits enormously from this added layer.

It was announced recently that James Mangold’s gritty, dystopian superhero masterpiece, Logan, will be re-released in monochrome. Thus, it seems cinema’s adoration of black and white is sliding back into popular culture again, and by God let it endure. The possibilities for future iconic re-releases of movies in black and white are limitless, and as it does for the use of practical effects in modern times, Mad Max: Fury Road proudly stands as an embodiment of the great achievements that big budget films can accomplish if released in monochrome.

What A Lovely Way (pun intended) to watch this adrenaline-fuelled spectacle.

This review originally appeared on Cuckoo Review, a site dedicating to developing the skills of young writers in partnership with venues across the North East. For more reviews from young writers, visit the Cuckoo Review website.

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