|Scene from Mad Max: Fury Road|
For many, one of the highlights of 2015 was director George Miller's return to the world of Mad Max with the Golden Globe-nominated sequel Fury Road. Following the previous entry from 1985, it became the unlikely success story and fueled a new generation of fans to cheer on the godfather of car movies. With the series arguably at its peak since 1981's The Road Warrior, one could only expect Miller to produce more sequels, right? Well, there's some bad news that was announced recently. Whether or not Max lives on, Miller will not be there to direct them.
It should be noted that Miller is 70-years-old, and has made a film that feels as vital and important as those made by directors half his age. Fury Road wasn't just a return to the franchise. It was giving it new life, showing the capability of making an auto-mechanic western and having ridiculous stunts serve in favor of plot progression. There have been great action directors of the past decade, but Miller's technique still felt surprisingly fresh and focused in ways that The Fast and The Furious franchise could never be. It also helps that he's been making these Mad Max movies since 1979 (the first being more of a quaint character drama) and has created something that is entirely fueled by his ambitions, which have yet to be fully jaded by special effects.
Which makes the statement that he gave to The New York Post a little disheartening when he said that he's through with them. His reasoning made sense:
"I’ve shot in Australia in a field of wild flowers and flat red earth when it rained heavily forever. We had to wait 18 months and every return to the US was 27 hours. Those Mad Maxes take forever. I won’t do those anymore.”
For those who need a quick recap, the journey to what Fury Road became was not easy. It wasn't just that Miller wanted to hop on the reboot wagon this past year, but something that stems back to 1998 when he first got the idea. The film was set to shoot in 2001, but was postponed due to The September 11th attacks. Delays only progressed from there. The film was finally on track in 2012 and featured extensive special effects work in post, as well as additional reshoots in 2013. While this is only a summary of what happened (read the Wikipedia page for more details), there's a lot more to suggest that this was a labor of love that took forever, and even lost its original Max, Mel Gibson, due to the delays.
It entirely makes sense then why Miller isn't quick to make another movie. It's a shame, especially since he made Fury Road into a really great movie. Don't let this dissuade fans, however. Even if Miller won't be involved as director, he promised more Mad Max films according to his Twitter last May. There was even interest in making more of a focus around breakout favorite Furiosa in the sequels; as well as the announced title of the sequel Mad Max: The Wasteland. The one benefit is that these films are relatively tangential to each other, so anything can happen. Though what will it be like without Miller? One can only hope now that Mad Max movies are viable again, that they'll be given great talents behind the scenes that keep it from turning into any other franchise. It may not be as distinct as Miller's direction, but hopefully it won't be too disappointing.