There are a lot of people (especially of a younger age) who’ve never heard of George Miller’s Mad Max films starring Mel Gibson – the last of which, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, was released all the way back in 1985. What’s interesting is that Miller’s upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road is shaping up to be as much a unique experience for longtime Max fans as it will be for those who’ve never before visited Miller’s vision of a sun-scorched hellish post-apocalyptic world, populated largely by violent maniacs (and their equally violent modes of transportation).

Tom Hardy takes over from Gibson playing stoic and brooding survivor Max Rockatansky in Fury Road. Charlize Theron costars in the film as Imperator Furiosa, a warrior leading a pack of women on the run from the forces of a warlord known as Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) – with Furiosa’s plan being to find her childhood home and form a safe haven for those and her loved ones. That’s about all there is, as far as the movie’s major plot points go.

Fury Road‘s trailer marketing has certainly gotten a strong response among members of the film buff community, especially those who’ve been waiting years for Miller to finally make another Mad Mad feature. The movie hits theaters this Friday (at the time of writing this), and the first waves of Fury Road reviews to flood the ‘Net suggest that this is one big-budget summer offering that will not only meet the high expectations – it might just exceed them, too.

Metacritic lists Fury Road at a 90% rating after twelve reviews, while on Rotten Tomatoes  the film has a 100% “Fresh” rating after twenty-two reviews (averaging a 9.2/10 score). To learn more about why critics are raving about the film, read on for some telling (but SPOILER-FREE) excerpts from a handful of reviews. (To reach the full critiques, just click on the corresponding links.)

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Variety – Justin Chang

Thirty years have passed since our last visit to George Miller’s sun-scorched post-apocalyptic wasteland, and yet “worth the wait” still seems a puny response to the two hours of ferocious, unfettered B-movie bliss offered by “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The sort of exhilarating gonzo entertainment that makes even the nuttier “Fast and Furious” movies look like Autopia test drives…”

The Wrap – Alonso Duralde

In the same way that the original 1979 “Mad Max” was the “Citizen Kane” of gut-bucket Australian exploitation cinema, “Mad Max: Fury Road” may well be the “Götterdämerung” of drive-in movies. It has its roots in the Western and the post-apocalyptic road-rage action saga (which the second “Mad Max” outing, 1981’s “The Road Warrior,” helped to create), but it also feels like an epic mic-drop, where Miller dares anyone else to follow in his tire treads.

THR – Todd McCarthy

Thirty years after surviving Thunderdome, the reluctant warrior of modern movies’ first and most memorable post-apocalyptic action fantasy series is finally back and ready for more in Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller has directed only five films in all that time, three of which starred pigs and penguins, but it can safely be said that this madly entertaining new action extravaganza energetically kicks more ass, as well as all other parts of the anatomy, than any film ever made by a 70-year-old — and does so far more skillfully than those turned out by most young turks half his age.

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Total Film – Jamie Graham

Miller, who storyboarded 3,000 images and hewed his movie from 480 hours of footage, captures it all in a ballistic ballet of tracks, dollies and zooms. There’s beauty to the violence (which is oddly bloodless, hence that 15 certificate), just as there’s beauty to the desert plains and undulating dunes, the quagmires and salt lakes. In the battle of the 2015 behemoths, the maxed-out madness of Mad Max: Fury Road sets an extraordinarily high bar – then pole-vaults clean over it and smashes the entire rig to smithereens.

/Film – Russ Fischer

Films are built painstakingly in fractions, one moment at a time, but Fury Road is like a thing born in an explosion, roaring to life fully formed as the end product of some cinematic Big Bang. It feels more new than we have a right to expect from any sequel, and even with missteps in mind is bracingly progressive, and a triumphant return for George Miller.

Cinemablend – Eric Eisenberg

Mad Max: Fury Road is a special film. It’s bombastically entertaining and action packed, but it doesn’t disregard emotion and story; and it’s a fitting follow-up that will make lovers of the Road Warrior giddy. But it’s also entirely accessible to those who have never even heard of the Mel Gibson-starring films. It’s a tremendous cinematic experience courtesy of George Miller, and a must-see.

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Empire – Ian Nathan

Inevitably the leanness of the early films has been lost, but without question Fury Road remains the work of a visionary. Miller has put all the money, all the perverse and poetic flights of his imagination, on the screen. The scope is more operatic, the attitude still punk rock. It’s almost as if a petrol-head David Lynch has been given license to despoil the homogenised blueprint of the modern blockbuster… Fury Road is a defiantly, at times deliriously, cinematic experience.

The Guardian – Peter Bradshaw

That adjective in the title is accurate. Extravagantly deranged, ear-splittingly cacophonous, and entirely over the top, George Miller has revived his Mad Max punk-western franchise as a bizarre convoy chase action-thriller in the post-apocalyptic desert… It’s like Grand Theft Auto revamped by Hieronymus Bosch, with a dab of Robert Rodríguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn.

Time Out – David Ehrlich

The fourth instalment of George Miller’s punky post-apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’ saga feels like a tornado tearing through a tea party. In an age of weightless movie spectacles, here’s a movie that feels like it was made by kidnapping $150 million of studio money, fleeing with it to the Namibian desert, and sending footage back to Hollywood like the amputated body parts of a ransomed hostage.

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Most of the reviews seem to agree that it’s Theron who delivers the film’s standout performance (as far as the two leads in Fury Road are concerned), though Hardy’s also getting his fair share for following in Gibson’s footsteps and bringing Max to compelling life in a largely wordless role. However, it’s also quite clear from the reviews that the true star of Fury Road is the filmmaking – including, both Miller’s audacious directorial style and the sheer insanity of the stunt-work that was required in order to bring the motion picture’s many vehicular action sequences (crashes, collisions, rampages) to operatic life.

Fury Road, by the sound of it, is thus very much the future cult film made with blockbuster production values that many cinema buffs have been looking forward to. It remains to be seen whether or not the movie will have cross-over appeal – something that will be necessary, if Fury Road is to recoup its $150 million budget and turn a healthy profit (one large enough to ensure that a sequel or two gets made, anyway).

Failing that happening, though, it would seem we have at least found our next midnight movie classic.

Mad Max: Fury Road opens in U.S. theaters on May 15th, 2015. Check back here on that day, for Screen Rant’s official review!

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