Before Mad Max: Fury Road is unleashed before us I thought I would have a Mad Max special as my blast from the past. What we need to remember George Miller’s crazy world laid the foundation of modern action cinema. I do consider this franchise quiet highly even if some people don’t like them. So here we go…….
Cert: 18 Runtime: 88 mins Director: George Miller Cast: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Tim Burns, Vincent Gill and Hugh Keays-Byrne
You’ve seen it!… You’ve heard it!… and you’re still asking questions?
Premise: In a not-too-distant dystopian future, when man’s most precious resource — oil — has been depleted and the world plunged into war, famine and financial chaos, the last vestiges of the law in Australia attempt to restrain a vicious biker gang. Max (Mel Gibson), an officer with the Main Force Patrol, launches a personal vendetta against the gang when his wife (Joanne Samuel) and son are hunted down and murdered, leaving him with nothing but the instincts for survival and retribution.
Overview: After the massive success of ‘Star Wars,’ a film that took viewers to new worlds and showed them sights like nothing ever seen before, it gave way to many other great films dealing in the extraordinary. Most are set on other planets or in other worlds far beyond ours, but quite a few have been set on Earth and involve some conflict with another life form or some man made disaster. Though not the first of it’s kind, ‘Mad Max’ is certainly one of the most influential of the apocalyptic Action films. It was a big hit in it’s native Australia and has gained quite a following over the years. Now a few decades old, how does it hold up? Cast does a great job, everyone seeming to really be into their roles. Incredible cinematography and nice scenery. Exciting score. Moves at a good pace. Some really exciting and well staged action and car chase sequences. Also some great stunt work. Some innovation. Not much plot. Some characters and relationships could have used more fleshing out. Awkward editing at times. Somewhat clumsy execution.It’s easy to see why this film is so popular and influenced so many films through the years. It’s still a pretty darn good film, but not one of the greats. It is without a doubt better than it’s imitators and also a pretty good start for the series. 7.3/10
THE ROAD WARRIOR
Cert: 18 Runtime: 96 mins Director: George Miller Cast: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps, Vernon Wells and Kjell Nilsson
I’m just here for the gasoline
Premise:After avenging the death of his wife and young son at the hands of a vicious gang leader, Max (Mel Gibson) drives the post-apocalyptic highways of the Australian outback, fending off attacks from nomadic tribes that prey on outsiders. Falling into an encampment led by the relatively peaceful Pappagallo (Mike Preston), Max at first schemes to steal their oil, but soon becomes the group’s reluctant defender against the hulking Humungus (Kjell Nilsson) and his ruthless marauders.
Overview: Mad Max 2 is an interesting blend of elements. You have a science fiction setting that borders on pure fantasy. There is the obvious action element. Then there are themes of mythology and Wild West lore. Heck, that’s all Mad Max 2 is…a Western with gasoline.George Miller has a very profound eye in this movie. There are many terrific shots that almost seem in line with Michael Bay’s work (in his hayday!). Then again, this is George Miller. He would not stoop to Bay’s level, it’s just a pity we’ve waited 30 years for Fury Road. The editing during the action is incredible, making some of cinema’s most exciting moments in the adrenaline-fueled rush of it all. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie does not have this same lavish attention to it. Many scenes resemble 2001: A Space Odyssey in their visual literature. The obvious uses of high-and low-speed filming are distracting and none-too-subtle. I will give it credit for having the best illusion of speed ever on celluloid.Compared to Mad Max, 2 has an advantage in both story and dialogue. Both aren’t very original, but the idea of ‘escape’ is less cliché than the age-old ‘revenge’ plot device. Also, the lines in 2 are not delivered in the same idiosyncrasy. “Fricasse of Reptile”, how can you get any better than that? The villains, while lacking the colourful names of the first instalment, resemble nothing more than a faceless mob of ants trying to infest the compound. As for the Humungus? Well, I think we know where Miller drew inspiration for him. It’s interesting how many films since have tried to champion over the vehicular destruction here. Hollywood never learns.Overall, a short movie with some powerful points to it. Particularly our dependence on oil products.8.5/10
MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME
Cert: 15 Runtime: 107 mins Director: George Miller & George Ogilvie Cast: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Adam Cockburn, Tina Turner, Frank Thring, Robert Grubb and George Spartels
Welcome, to another edition of Thunderdome!
Premise: Max (Mel Gibson) drifts into an evil town ruled by Turner. There he becomes a gladiator and gets dumped in the desert where he is rescued by a band of feral orphans who have been looking for help for years. When several of them take his appearance as a sign and go off into the desert, he follows them back to the town.
Overview: MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, while a bit of a different beast than the previous two Mad Max films, is able to stand on equal terms with them in terms of action and spectacle as well as having deeper themes.
The best thing about the film is that it fleshes out the world established in the previous two entries, as well as bring in some new elements. The most interesting of these new additions is the Thunderdome. The car chases were also creative, and had excellent stunt work, but the Thunderdome really showcases the brutality of the post-apocalypse in a way that the other action sequences couldn’t (or didn’t). Also, even though it made the narrative slightly unwieldy, I did like the side-by-side comparison of Bartertown with the tribe of children that Max meets. The central theme or message of this film seemed to be about how civilization recovers from apocalyptic events. Bartertown does this by regressing back to an animalistic, violent capitalism, while the young tribe remains innocent in anticipation for the return of a distant, utopian past. And all the while they hope for a better future. Thematically, this film stands head and shoulders above the previous two. Still, the way in which the narrative is drawn out makes the film a bit slow at times, which could turn off people who enjoyed the previous two for the non-stop action. As far as acting is concerned, it’s OK but Mel Gibson is the only person who really does what I’d consider a “great” job. I also feel like Tina Turner was miscast as Aunty Entity, and a lot of her line readings felt really awkward to me. In contrast, I thought that the child actors portraying the tribe did a rather decent job. Overall, despite being a little slow at times, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME is an entertaining post-apocalyptic movie with great action and some things to think about as well. 7.0/10