'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' review: A 'Fury Road lite' origin story

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' review: A 'Fury Road lite' origin story
Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in the fifth film in the series titled 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.'
Warner Bros. Pictures

MANILA, Philippines — George Miller returns to the "Mad Max" franchise with an entry not focusing on Max Rockatansky, but on who might be his next biggest character, Furiosa.

The character was first introduced in 2015's "Mad Max: Fury Road," portrayed by Charlize Theron, who crosses paths with Tom Hardy's Max in the barren Wasteland.

"Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" tells Furiosa's story who is taken away from her people and passed from one warlord to another. She rises in stature to become the Imperator who will one day find her way home.

While Max has always been a central figure, as played by Mel Gibson, the latest film reflects Furiosa's popularity, which might be the reason Miller chose to flesh out a story about her origins.

Each entry is different from the last, but "Furiosa" faces a high bar given the immense, epic reception of "Fury Road," that to even match it seems an incredible feat.

In some ways "Furiosa" can be seen as "Fury Road" lite, not just because it is a prequel and a glimpse of things viewers know are coming, but it sets everything up with familiar beats of people who worked on the previous film.

Junkie XL is back with his thundering score, while Jenny Beavans provides some more apocalyptic costumes. Editor and Miller's wife, Margaret Sixel, is aided by Eliot Knapman, and much of the production team returned to lend a hand.

Probably the biggest technical change is Simon Duggan, who replaced John Seale for the cinematography, but in essence "Furiosa" feels very much like the blueprint of the epic story it will lead into.

The main difference is "Fury Road" is built like storyboards come to life — which is why numerous action sequences pop out — whereas "Furiosa" is more screenplay-heavy so the pacing does slow the film down.

It is also very evident in the film that there is an increased use of visual effects, which is understandable given the scale of the production, but "Fury Road" stood out because of its many practical effects.

Related: Anya Taylor-Joy praises 'unbelievable' 'Mad Max' stunt team

Still it can't be denied the action holds up, whether on the road or in a given location, like the Bullet Farm, and at the heart of it all is Furiosa herself.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Ayla Browne, who portray Furiosa at different ages, embody the character like a tiger waiting for the right moment to pounce.

Browne leaves such a good impression that it takes a while for Taylor-Joy to fully immerse into the character, but once shes does, there is no holding back from the quiet intensity she delivers even from a simple stare.

Right on the other end of the performance spectrum is a hilarious Chris Hemsworth, whose physique may appear like Thor or Tyler Rake, but his portrayal is more a mix of his characters in "Bad Times at the El Royale" and "Ghostbusters."

There are moments where Hemsworth's Dementus appears sincere, but they are immediately trounced by sequences of chaotic energy and twisted desperation, showing the actor is capable of doing any role on the action front.

Tom Burke's Praetorian Jack aids in pushing Furiosa to her rise. Her relationship with Lachy Hulme's Immortan Joe, originated by the late Hugh Keays-Byrne, could have been explored more in order to really sell Furiosa's acts of redemption.

More familiar characters from "Fury Road" make an appearance, which should delight fans, though excluded sequences will leave them wanting for more.

The "Mad Max" franchise remains entertaining no matter which entry is one's favorite, and "Furiosa" proves that Miller treasures the worldbuilding in it.

Whether he chooses to stay with Furiosa or go back to centering on Max, the Wasteland is vast enough for Miller for traverse with engines riding eternal.

"Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" is now showing in Philippine cinemas.

RELATED: Kathryn Bernardo, Alden Richards hope to answer 'Hello, Love, Goodbye' questions in sequel

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