From the director who brought us “Happy Feet” and “Babe: Pig in the City,” comes the latest in the Mad Max Saga, “Furiosa.”  In a departure from the series, “Furiosa” is not only a prequel but also the first to not feature the infamous Road Warrior.  Can this entry successfully shoulder the weight of this cultural phenomenon?

Similar to the original “Mad Max,” “Furiosa” is a story of vengeance.  Instead of taking place over a few months, this one spans decades.  As a young child, Furiosa (Alyla Browne) is kidnapped and taken from “The Green Place.”  She soon finds herself taken captive by Dr. Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), a man hell-bent on finding this place of abundance in the middle of the wasteland.  After his cruel tactics to extract this information from her, he decides to claim her as his daughter.

Hemsworth devours the screen every second he’s on it.  While his prosthetic nose seems odd and jarring in the trailer, in the film it fits this odd character perfectly.  Dementus is a complex, yet shallow man.  He’s an insecure fool with an army of loyalists behind him.  Try as he might to put forth a tough exterior, he can’t help but carry his childhood bear along with him every step of the way.  While it’s tempting to laugh him off, few things are scarier than an insecure fool with a mass of loyalists willing to follow him to hell and back.

The film is broken into multiple chapters, which follow Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy)  as she goes from Dementus’ captive to Immortan Joe’s (Lachy Hulme) property, to Imperator, all while longing for revenge.  Many articles have mentioned the surprisingly few lines Anya Taylor-Joy has in this movie.  She might not have much to say, but through her eyes and physicality, she provides an incredible performance.  There is never a doubt that she will eventually become the CT version of this character.

Most prequels are essentially cash grabs.  Fans of a series think they want more of their beloved stories, but the writers/directors rarely provide a quality story.  Instead, they are jam-packed with exposition and nostalgia porn.  Strong villains are inexplicably given a sad, humanizing backstory, robbing us of the mystique that made them fascinating in the first place.  “Furiosa” may be the only prequel to truly enhance the preceding film.   It fleshes out the weird world of the Wasteland and shows us people and places we’ve only heard mention of before.  None of it feels gratuitous.  In fact, it provides more emotional depth and urgency to “Fury Road.”

There are complaints that there is too much CGI in “Furiosa,” and some of the visual effects and camera work look weird.  But in this insane wasteland, it feels at home.  And while there is more CGI than some may like, it pales in comparison to all the live-action and stunts the incomparable George Miller has served up for us.

“Furiosa” is in theaters now! WITNESS IT! (on the biggest screen possible)

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga