The Mad Max Trilogy - Blu-ray Review

There's a real darkness in Mad Max, with Miller's camera at times feels like it is picking things out with a similar sense of ethereal style to Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock.

Even if you're not a fan, there's a lesson to be found about franchises in the new Mad Max Trilogy box set, a lovely presentation which comes complete in natty steelbook 'petrol can' packaging. From the tonally odd, dubbed out of Australian original, with it's distinctly amateur look and feel, Max (Mel Gibson) goes on a journey through the best film of the set (Road Warrior) to arrive at the bloated and campy Beyond Thunderdome, complete with Tina Turner to tempt you into singing into your hairbrush. In 2014 the cycle will be complete when Fury Road reboots/revitalises/ruins the franchise.

The prospect of having Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron pout in front of the camera seems a very long way off during Mad Max, which feels like a film made in someone's garage. The motor oil and general grime stains every inch of George Miller's exploitation flick, with Max (Mel Gibson) taking a bit too long to become mad. Director George Miller had clearly seen 1975's Death Race 2000, although Miller does do a better job of playing things with a straight bat and executing a piece of cinema that doesn't feel like it is one step removed from a pantomime.

There's a real darkness in Mad Max too, and Miller's camera at times feels like it is picking things out with a similar sense of ethereal style to Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock, another 1975 production.

Arguably better than the original, Mad Max 2 (or Road Warrior, for American markets) benefits from having Max as slightly mad from the start, the meeting with the even madder Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence) proving an early highlight.

If Mad Max 2 isn't better than Mad Max then the reason why is nearly solely down to the uniformly terrible supporting performances that Miller surrounds Gibson with. Both the leader of the band Max decides to help and the leader of the antagonists seem to struggle to speak in anything other than burbling soap-language, Miller, Terry Hayes and Brian Hannant's script not helping them.

Mad Max 2 is certainly smarter than the original, but peeking under the bonnet there's still this home-made element to it, and the summary execution of the series' second dog should tell you that this isn't Hollywood.

Beyond Thunderdome though has all of the hallmarks of a film that aspires to the big budget values of being horribly bloated and decidedly in search of audience's hard-earned cash. The story was reportedly tacked on to the character after someone had dreamed up the idea of a bunch of kid's being isolated in the wilderness. It feels like it. Whilst the grime of the first half isn't perfect, it feels like a Mad Max narrative. The minute Max comes across Helen Buday's band of lost boys it feels like we're in something else entirely.

Light fantasy and a pitch black lead character are not a match made in heaven and Beyond Thunderdome spirals down from this point, trapped into repeating the tent-pole chases from the second film. Where Mad Max was 70s grime, Beyond Thunderdome is excruciating 80's camp, assaulting you not only with Turner's musical offerings but a horrible score that hardly ever pipes down. Lets hope that those behind the forthcoming fourth film (which include original director George Miller) remember what made Max so interesting to begin with.


Mad Max
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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