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I’m a huge fan of all the Mad Max movies. I grew up in the 80s, and my introduction to the series was The Road Warrior. It’s one of those movies that I’ve seen too many times to count – up there with Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, and Aliens. Later I went back and watched the first Mad Max and appreciated it for its dark and tense downward spiral. And when I saw Beyond Thunderdome, I accepted the film’s campiness and loved it unconditionally because it extended the story of the wastelands.

So when George Miller announced the plans to release a fourth film, I knew I would see it no matter what. As the opening date drew closer and the previews appeared, I grew intensely hungry, and the morning of the release date, a Thursday, I bought tickets for me and my wife, to ensure we’d get a seat in the theater.

The hype had gotten to my head, it seemed: we arrived at the theater a good 45 minutes in advance to get a seat, and by the time the movie started, it was only one quarter full. This was more in line with my reality: my love for Mad Max is shared by many, but we are a fringe group. The movie blew me away. I couldn’t have been happier when I walked out of the theater, and took comfort that me and the other freaks that love this kind of thing got a film that was at least as good as The Road Warrior. The drive home was … hairy.

Then a weird thing happened. Other people saw the film that weekend. People with less predilection for wasteland violence than I were loving it. Were telling their friends how good it was. Blog posts were dropping into my radar extolling the virtues of this amazing film. People who have never seen The Road Warrior (or as I call them, the Unenlightened) went to see Fury Road and came away praising its glory.

So I took a step back from my fanboyism and looked at Fury Road through the eyes of the Unenlightened. What was it that storyteller George Miller and his team nailed so perfectly to enlighten them? What follows are just a few of the key story elements that I think contributed to the film’s success.

*** Spoilers ahead. ***