Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Mad Max Trilogy Blu-ray ""

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mad Max Trilogy Blu-ray

It's hard not to think of post-apocalyptic landscapes without thinking of THE ROAD WARRIOR. I know it's that way for me at least. I first saw the film before I really understood what a director did, or what style was in regards to cinema.It was between George Miller, Sergio Leone, Terry Gilliam and a few others that I started to realize that a director can really create this world that the movie exists in and transport you there. Miller and Gilliam were a couple directors that I first noticed doing crazy stuff with the camera that gave their films this energy and vibrance. In MAD MAX, Miller was doing some ridiculous stuff as far as camera placement and stunts. 

MAD MAX was part of what would later be seen as this wave of crazy Australian
genre/exploitation films to come out in the late 70s and early 80s. It's brethren were martial arts action pictures like THE MAN FROM HONG KONG and insane action movies like TURKEY SHOOT as well as Hitchcockian thrillers like ROAD GAMES. Documentary filmmaker Mark Hartley made a fantastic film on the subject of Australian exploitation movies called NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD back in 2008. If you haven't already seen it, I can't recommend highly enough that you give it a look. I find it a fascinating thing to see where MAD MAX fits into the chronology and the context of this chunk of cinema.

THE ROAD WARRIOR is just one of those films that is bursting at the seams with the essence of cinema. It features an pretty much wordless opening(much like one of my favorite movies - RIO BRAVO) and in general is not heavy on dialogue. George Miller just lets us observe this barren landscape and the human drama unfolding within it. I recently showed my son(14 years old) the film for the first time and he was blown away. "Best. Movie. Ever." was his exact response I think and I was pleased as punch to hear him say it. I just love when a young person can see an older film like this and not be distracted by the fact that it is 'an older film'. No CG fx, slower editing style for the most part, & very little talking. That to me is what cinema and the longevity of a culture of cinema lovers is all about. People who can set aside their preconceived notions about what a movie should be like and just allow movies a chance to impress them. THE ROAD WARRIOR may be more than 30 years old, but it is still as impressive as ever.**

Those immortal words are spoken: "Two men enter. One man leaves." And so begins ThunderDome. As much as Mel Gibson and George Miller are taking cues from Sergio Leone's 'Dollars Trilogy' with the character of Mad Max, hey go so far as to call Max "The Man With No Name" in THUNDERDOME. It was fun to revisit this movie as it had been the longest since I'd seen it of any of the trilogy. I am a big fan of the fantasy films of the 1980s and this film seems a part of that collective on some level. The poster design alone, with Tina Turner's flowing hair and the landscape below conjure up thoughts of 80s fantasy films like KRULL, ICE PIRATES and HEAVY METAL. Tina Turner's presence in the film alone cries out "1980s!" to me. Sure, pop singers have been featured in movies prior to this decade, but I can't help but think of the likes of Grace Jones and Vanity, both oh whom existed cinematically almost solely in the 80s. In the end though, BEYOND THUNDERDOME suffers the same fate as JAWS 2(for example). Its a good but not great post-apocalypse film. Same thing as JAWS 2, which is a solid killer shark movie. What both these films have to contend with is their predecessors being near masterpieces. That's tough for most movies to live down.

All three films look quite nice on Blu-ray(MAD MAX being the lesser of the 3 transfers). The special features included are all ported over from other releases. They include: 
On MAD MAX: An Audio Commentary featuring cinematographer David Eggby, art director Jon Dowding, visual effects supervisor Chris Murray and film historian Tim Ridge, as well as a 25-minute Retrospective Featurette.

On THE ROAD WARRIOR: A Leonard Maltin Introduction and a Audio Commentary with director George Miller and cinematographer Dean Semler;
MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME: only includes the film's Trailer.

**note - This could be completely apocryphal as I've since forgotten where I read it, but I'm pretty sure John Sayles is a big fan of THE ROAD WARRIOR. This is pretty neat to me as the type of films Sayles makes are about as far from something like THE ROAD WARRIOR as one can get. That being said, Sayles did get his start in film writing with exploitation fare like PIRANHA, ALLIGATOR, THE LADY IN RED and THE HOWLING so I guess he's not completely outside the genre world.

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