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‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ gives heroine much-deserved backstory

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

The concept of a strong female character is nothing new. We had Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise and Princess Leia from Star Wars as examples. But there was something different about Furiosa when she first appeared in 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Her survivalist mindset and commitment to bringing the women slaves to a safer haven make her a modern feminist heroine. She isn’t also afraid to show her vulnerability when given the chance. It showed that heroines deserve a moment to feel emotional and are not stone-hearted like most of their male contemporaries.

Furiosa is the kind of hero we need today and Mad Max creator George Miller saw the potential in her, ending up with a prequel movie focusing on her origins.

Told in five chapters, we find that Furiosa was kidnapped by warlord Dementus (played by Chris Hemsworth) when she was a child. Refusing to be his adoptive daughter, the warlord sold Furiosa to Immortan Joe, who would have primed her to be a mother if she reached fertile age. Refusing that fate, she shaves her head and disguises herself as a mute young boy who is part of Joe’s army, the War Boys.

We see Furiosa’s development throughout the years as she becomes a strong member of Joe’s army, being promoted from mechanic to praetorian. Furiosa sees an opportunity for revenge when she encounters Dementus, who declares war with Immortan Joe for power in the wasteland.

For the role first portrayed by Charlize Theron, Miller brought in two actresses: Alyla Browne when Furiosa was a child and Anya Taylor-Joy as a young adult.

One of the most impressive parts was how it transitioned from Browne to Taylor-Joy in the second half of the film. It was strengthened by how both actresses delivered impressive performances. It’s almost as if Furiosa was played by one actress who just suddenly grew up.

Another highlight was Hemsworth’s villainous take on Dementus. He shed off his wholesome Thor personality into a disgustingly selfish, incompetent warlord.

The action scenes are also impressively shot; most didn’t feel like generic blockbuster types. The amount of gore is justifiable and not over-the-top to make the film’s setting feel intense.

When “Furiosa” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month, a critic wrote that it is the closest thing we would see to an “artful film disguised as a blockbuster.” While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s understandable when you look at other blockbusters that feel like a money grab to strengthen its intellectual properties.

The strength of Miller’s storytelling lies in the characters driving the plot, and that’s probably why “Fury Road” was critically acclaimed when it was first released. It’s safe to say that “Furiosa” also manages to retain that level of acclaim by giving its titular character a compelling backstory she deserves. Four stars out of five.

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