***½/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras B+
starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
directed by George Miller
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by Walter Chaw The best parts of Mad Max: Fury Road (hereafter Fury Road) are, as it happens, those that are most like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The parts about civilization rising from the ruins of an atomic war; the parts about misplaced hope and how unlikely alliances can sometimes speak to the human tendency towards faith and the possibility of eternity. The series was always about the myth of the lone hero, striding into whatever situation and facilitating a return to a prelapsarian (pre-poc-y-clypse?) state before disappearing again. Shane, for instance, where a child's development--or in the case of Thunderdome, a great many children's development--has been mythologized as the intervention of a mysterious stranger who appears from nowhere and returns there. Max is a metaphor. For courage, heart, intelligence, the yearning for home; he touches in turn each of The Wizard of Oz's quartet of self-actualization while keeping the Wizard behind the curtain. If there's a specific modern mythology to which this series most obviously hews, it's the Arthur myth, and in Thunderdome, when asked if he's the return of the fabled Captain Walker, Max responds that he isn't. But we know that he is.