Mel Gibson’s Mad Max is back and looking better than ever on Blu-ray in the Mad Max Trilogy – which collects 1979’s Mad Max, 1982’s Mad Max: Road Warrior, and 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (making its Blu-ray debut) in a tin box.
The three films are a cornerstone of the post-apocalyptic action genre and deliver in your face violence through incredible action sequence – despite being made for very modest budgets. Directed by George Miller and staring a then virtually unknown Gibson (at least until after the second film), the Mad Max franchise is set in the future in a burned out Australia and follow former highway cop Max Rockatansky as he journeys the Outback.
Max is similar in many ways to Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name character, and constantly finds himself battling overwhelming odds. The character is the “hero,” but it is mostly because his moral compass is slightly better than the people he kills. Max is a violent man in a violent world – which seems that much grittier thanks to its use of practical effects and stunts in the world before CGI.
The franchise isn’t for everyone, and the films feel very dated on Blu-ray’s crystal clear format. The first two films are somewhat limited by meager budgets and rough editing, but the style fits the story and it is easy to get into the characters. The third film (which is both the best and the worst of all the films at different times) is a bit of a train wreck, but features some truly great and memorable moments – even if it needed more Thunderdome!
Mad Max - The film that set the look and feel for not only the franchise but many post-apocalyptic action films to follow kicks off with Max as a member of the Main Force Patrol (MFP) - the police forced created to help patrol the highways and keep people safe from the roving motorcycle gangs who raid searching for oil supplies.
The movie is basically one long action sequence with Max squaring off against a motorcycle gang and its leader Nightrider. There isn't a lot of plot or character development to the film's story, but it isn't meant to be that kind of film.
While it establishes the look and feel of the franchise, Mad Max is the film that seems to have aged the worse and comes across very dated. The small budget and limited storyline are enough to establish the franchise, but might turn away some modern viewers who have grown to more CGI-heavy big budget productions with their action epics.
Special features on Mad Max include commentary and a featurette look on the film and its influence.
Mad Max: Road Warrior - Max's second outing feels like a post-apocalyptic western as a hardened and jaded Max slowly becomes the protector of a community of settlers who are being terrorized by a band of marauders.
The movie keeps the look and tone Miller established in the first film, but gives Gibson the chance to develop the Max character - while still keeping him stoic enough to be just one step above the guys terrorizing the town.
Of the three films in the franchise, Road Warrior is the one that fires on all cylinders. The plot borrows from great westerns, but keeps enough of what Miller established in the first film to make it clearly a Mad Max movie. The action is straight-forward and non-stop.
Special features on Road Warrior include commentary from Miller, and introduction from Leonard Maltin and the film’s theatrical trailer.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - Set a few years after Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome ups the franchise's budget, production scale and scope while keeping the character grounded in the straight-forward action that made the franchise - even if the violence seems a bit tamer compared to the first film.
Beyond Thunderdome opens with Max wandering the desert before losing his camels and vehicle. He journeys to a settlement known as Bartertown - which is ran by Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) while its under-city, that mines the pig feces methane used to power the city, is run by Master, a dwarf who holds his power through his strongman Blaster.
It doesn’t take long for Max to get involved in the power struggle between Aunty and Master – which leads to a showdown between Max and Blaster in the Thunderdome.
A series of unfortunate events leaves Max back in the desert where he is rescued by Savannah Nix and a group of children who live in a small oasis. The children believe Max is the promised savior who will take them to Tomorrow-morrow Land - which leads Max back to Bartertown and another showdown with Aunty.
Thunderdome has some great moments, but feels a little too polished to fit into the Mad Max franchise. Max is very much the hero of the film, and Miller and company make sure to keep all the traits that has have made the franchise great. The film is entertaining, but feels a little like a missed opportunity at the same time.
Even with their faults and somewhat dated appearance, the Mad Max franchise is a hell of a ride, and this collection is well-worth the price. It would have been nice to have more bonus material or maybe a booklet on the franchise, but fans of the franchise will enjoy having all three films in one set.
Visit the DVD database for more information.