Furiosa is a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road. It tells the story of the titular character from her girlhood through to become the capable woman that we know from the earlier film. It is, in other words, cashing in on the success of Fury Road. But is it worth it? Well…

The first thing to note is that our heroine is not played by Charlize Theron. The movies can do amazing things with ageing actors, but making them younger is much harder. So young girl Furiosa is played by Alyla Browne, and the rest of the time she’s Anya Taylor-Joy.

Taylor-Joy is hot property as far as actresses go these days. She’s had a bunch of high-profile roles, and looks set of play Paul’s sister in Dune 3 if it happens. I can totally see her as Illyana Rasputin, and indeed as Princess Peach in the Super Mario movie. I’m much less convinced of her as a young Charlize Theron. She’s too petite and cute. On the other hand, having seen Furiosa, I am very keen to see her play Joan of Arc, because I think she’d be absolutely perfect.

Of course the main villain of this film cannot be Immortan Joe, because he has to be still around during Fury Road. So the film introduces a rival warlord called Dementus, who is camped up wonderfully by Chris Hemsworth (who actually gets to play an Australian for once). This includes him getting to do a Ben Hur thing in a Roman chariot pulled by motorbikes. (Don’t ask how that works, this is Mad Max, not reality.) I loved the fact that he got to wear a red cloak for part of the film.

The core of the film is, of course, the vehicle action. There is lots of it. As special effects go, it is very well done. But the visual jokes were all done in Fury Road. Furiosa has nothing new, just more of the same. You can tell that the filmmakers were unhappy with what they’d done, because they put a whole lot of clips from Fury Road in as an epilogue. It was obvious which film was better.

The other thing that is notable about the film is the change of emphasis. Fury Road was a film about hope. It is about Furiosa’s quest to find the “Green Place” where she lived before she was kidnapped. We now know (spoiler) that it no longer exists, but Furiosa finding that out doesn’t change the hopeful attitude of the film, because the characters still believe that a better world is possible.

Furiosa, on the other hand, is a film about loss of hope. Dementus doesn’t believe that hope is possible. Furiosa, perhaps, ends up working for Joe because she has lost hope of getting home. Praetorian Jack, the kindly truck driver who takes her under his wing and teaches her everything he knows, is very obviously doomed to die, if only because he isn’t in Fury Road.

“Where are you going, so full of hope? There is no hope!” – Dementus

Maybe Furisoa is a film for our time. Given the ongoing rise of Fascism around the world, and the losses suffered by Green parties in the recent European elections, perhaps a film about loss of hope is playing into the zeitgeist. Who needs The Mighty Thor when you can have Dementus? But Furiosa is a prequel, not a sequel. It has meaning only in that it informs what happens in Fury Road. We need to remember that. There’s more to life than car chases.