Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Listen All! This is the Truth of It.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)I haven’t had a great deal of luck with the Mad Max series, but like a Band-Aid, it’s best to just do them all as quickly as possible and move one. I felt that the first two were entirely overrated, but the second one was much more watchable. And though today’s Mad Max movie is the lowest rated of the series, Rotten Tomatoes and I have been at opposites over the series so far, so it makes me hopeful. Well, there’s only one way to find out. I must review Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, written and directed by George Miller, co-written by Terry Hayes, co-directed by George Ogilvie, and starring Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Angelo Rossitto, Paul Larsson, Bruce Spence, Angry Anderson, Helen Buday, Tom Jennings, Robert Grubb, Frank Thring, and Hedwin Hodgeman.

Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) makes his way to a small, sleazy community in the middle of the wasteland called Bartertown. On the surface, the town is run by Aunty Entity (Tina Turner), but the electricity is controlled by Master (Angelo Rossitto) and his muscle Blaster (Paul Larsson), who maintains his control by placing embargoes on the energy to show who is actually in control. Aunty hires Max to kill Blaster, leaving Master powerless and under her thumb. Max challenges Blaster to a fight in the titular Thunderdome and defeats him, but he refuses to kill him when he realizes that he’s mentally disabled. Everyone else is not so kind and they kill Blaster, but decide to exile Max into the wasteland for reneging on their deal.

As I suspected, I appreciated this movie more than I liked any of the other movies in the Mad Max series. Rotten Tomatoes and I will forever be at odds on this. The story of this movie was nothing special, but it was coherent and more along the lines of what I expected. It’s pretty much just a straight forward action movie. As little as I cared for the stories in the other movies, I did take issue with the fact that this movie seemed to completely disregard the history of the series. Road Warrior ends saying that it was the last time any of them saw Max, that Jedediah took over as the leader of the tribe, and that the feral kid took over after his death. The very first thing this movie does is have Jedediah and his son rob Max, and they see him a few other times later. So it wasn’t the last time they saw him, apparently. Also, Jedediah is a pretty shitty leader because the tribe is never seen, even though he is a few times, so he’s at least neglecting his duties. And I’d even say it was unlikely that the feral kid would take over for the former leader when that leader has a lineage. So fuck that last movie, I guess. I mean, I agree with that sentiment, but they’re the ones building on that legacy. They should show respect for the movies that came before them. The next time I got mad at the movie was at Max himself. When he defeated Blaster and stopped before killing him, my anger was twofold. The first problem was that he refused to do it. Why?! Okay sure, he does have a mongoloid baby face. That would add a level of emotional difficulty. But he was just trying to kill you. And if you let him back up, he will probably try to do it again. Secondly, that you turn to Aunty Entity and proclaim, “This wasn’t part of the deal!” What are you talking about?! The deal was for you to kill Blaster. That is EXACTLY the deal! Verbatim! Technically, I guess there was a third problem with that situation in that the fight was super goofy. Two mother fuckers fighting a serious battle to the death bouncing around one of those spherical jungle gyms on rubber bands? That is the definition of badass. Or the opposite. I’m not entirely sure right now. The movie actually found a way to get goofier when Max shows up at the village of the tribe of kids, but mainly because it felt like it was becoming Hook. Granted, Hook came a long time after this movie, but it was also a comedy/family movie. Not a post-apocalyptic action movie.

I really have nothing to say about the performances in this movie. They weren’t bad and they weren’t fantastic, but none even bothered to give me any material to make jokes about. Tina Turner did fine enough, but the highlight of her contribution to the movie was that “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” song. Also (and I’m not entirely sure why) I found Helen Buday strangely attractive. I’ll have to look into that.

I thought Beyond Thunderdome was the best of the Mad Max movies, but I also don’t really get the appeal of the series. The story remained nothing special, but it was at least more coherent and more in line with what I’d expect out of an action movie. The action was good enough, but I find the rubber band jungle gym fight to be leaning more towards goofy than anything else. I can’t honestly recommend any of the Mad Max series, but this one was the better of the group. They could well have been epic when they came out, but I don’t think they’ve held up. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome gets “Congratulations! You’re the first to survive the audition!” out of “Two men enter, one man leave!”

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Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

I’m Just Here for the Gasoline

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)When I went into watching Mad Max, I was very excited.  I had a mad hankerin’ to watch that movie.  That did not work out well for me.  But I was already committed, and I already own the sequel, so what was I to do?  Obviously, I was to continue reviewing!  I was also not very comforted when I saw that this movie has an even higher rating than the first movie, even though this movie has a perfect 100%.  The super high rating that the first movie got didn’t help me, why would it change anything for this one?  Am I going to be the first professional critic to hate this movie?  There’s only one way to find out.  Let’s review The Road Warrior, aka Mad Max 2, written by Terry Hayes and Brian Hannant, co-written and directed by George Miller, and starring Mel Gibson, Kjell Nilsson, Michael Preston, Bruce Spence, Emil Minty, Vernon Wells, Virginia Hey, Arkie Whiteley, and Max Phipps.

The world is, like, so dystopian it’s like not even funny.  Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) has kept on truckin’ around the wastelands of Australia in a seemingly endless hunt for fuel that he uses to power his car to further search for fuel.  Eventually, he comes across the captain of an autogyro (it’s like a helicopter thing … also he’s played by Bruce Spence), who he takes as his prisoner when the pilot tells him of a community with nearly unlimited funds of fuel.  While surveying the community, Max finds that they’re being threatened by a gang lead by ‘roided out Jason Voorhees called “The Humungus” (Kjell Nilsson).  Max gets inside and makes a deal with their leader, Pappagallo (Michael Preston), to bring them a semi-truck that they can use to carry their fuel north to safer lands.

I agree with Rotten Tomatoes insomuch as I feel this movie was better than the first one.  It was okay, but I still don’t think it’s earned that 100%.  The story was less confusing, though no more atypical.  At least it wasn’t as best I could tell, because parts of the movie seemed disinterested in allowing you to hear the dialogue.  There were parts of the movie that I only realized were intended to be dialogue because the subtitles were on.  Then the story was decent enough, but nothing spectacular.  It was just Max wanting to find a truck so he could get gas for his car.  The action was still decent, and this time they added a few action scenes that were more up my alley: gun-shooting and face-punching!  So I found it more interesting in that respect as well.

One problem I had with the first movie is that Max was always set up to be such a badass in my mind and I never really saw in that movie.  He gets to do a little bit more of that here.  At first, he’s a pretty simple lone wolf type character that just wants to be left alone.  Not a very charismatic character choice to be sure, but it works for the badass part.  Then he starts getting his heroic notions towards the very end of the movie, and that unleashes more of his badassness.  I was also a little excited to see Bruce Spence in this movie, but mainly just because I recognized him from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.  His character in the movie came a little too close to comic relief for my tastes for me to really enjoy that part of it.  Emil Minty’s character confused me too.  He was basically a little monkey boy with a boomerang.  I didn’t find him particularly compelling, which I feel like they could have fixed if they gave us a little backstory about why he was a feral little boy that hung out with people all the time.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a start on the path towards being what I actually expected the Mad Max movies to be.  The story is okay, but nothing special.  The action was decent, and the world finally looked like a dystopia instead of just looking like Australia.  And Max finally started to act like a badass and not just a regular dude that was a little upset with the world.  There were some sound issues with the movie, but the movie itself was sound.  I would not necessarily recommend this movie for a watch just because you might want to watch the first movie first, and I still don’t recommend that.  Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior gets “It’s MY snake.  I trained it; I’m gonna eat it!” out of “I am gravely disappointed.”

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Mad Max (1979)

I’m a Fuel-Injected Suicide Machine

Mad Max (1979)I cannot justify my reasons for deciding to watch today’s movie.  I doubt there was even a reason, now that I think about it.  However it happened, I got it into my mind that I absolutely needed to watch a movie that I can only assume that I’ve seen before because I own the DVD’s.  And, because of my OCD, watching this movie also meant that I’d need to watch the other two movies in the trilogy.  But we’ll get to those later.  Today, we’re going to talk about Mad Max, written by James McCausland, revised by Byron Kennedy, directed and co-written by George Miller, and starring Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Roger Ward, Joanne Samuel, Steve Bisley, Geoff Parry, Tim Burns, and Brendan Heath.

A crazed gang member is killed while trying to escape the custody of the MFP (Main Force Patrol), run down by the MFP (the Mother Fuckin’ Police)’s top pursuit man, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson).  Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and Bubba Zanetti (Geoff Parry), the leaders of the dead gang member, do not take too kindly to one of their ilk being so much less alive, so they take to running wild over a town, killing, raping, and destroying.  The MFP (More Food Please) comes across the scene later, finding Toecutter’s young ward, Johnny “the Boy” Boyle (Tim Burns), who was too high to leave the scene, and MFP (Miscellaneous Foot Powder) officer Goose (Steve Bisley) arrests him.  Toecutter steps his revenge game up, going after Max’s friend Goose, Max’s wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel), and Max’s son Sprog (Brendan Heath).  One could safely make the assumption that this will make Max a little upset.

This movie perplexes me.  Not only have I only ever heard about it in hushed, reverent tones, but it has a freakin’ 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I just don’t get it.  I don’t suppose I’d call the movie “bad,” but I certainly wouldn’t say I liked it.  The only thing it really has going for it is some cool car stunts.  I don’t even know if I could talk about the story because I’d be hesitant to say that it really has much of a story.  He’s a cop, Goose gets burned alive, other stuff happens, he gets revenge.  And they didn’t even go for the “your Goose is cooked” joke that I so hoped for!   I know this is a reference that few will get, but it really reminded me of the movie Sidehackers, just set in “dystopian” Australia.  Hell, Max doesn’t even really get “Mad” until the last 20 minutes of the movie!  It spends so much time building up to something and then remembers that it has to wrap the movie up, so it uses the last 10 minutes to KINDA end it.  But it felt rushed and unsatisfying.  I guess that’s why they made two sequels.

I guess what a lot of people have to be so on about in this movie is the action, but I didn’t even find myself entirely interested in that.  I may have found the movie more enjoyable if I ever cared about things involving cars and motorcycles, but I don’t.  My idea of action is more shooting guns and punching faces than making one car kiss the bumper of another car until the first car inexplicably loses control and hits something, exploding in a fiery wreck.  They did have a couple of good stunts that I was impressed by, without actually liking that much.  I realize this movie had a fairly low budget, so when people fly off of vehicles and hit the ground, some stunt people probably really risked their health doing that stuff.  Heck, there was one part at the end of the movie where two guys fall off motorcycles in tandem and one motorcycle hits the other dude in the head.  Good work stuntmen, but I’m still not into it.  Also, I thought this movie was all about a dystopian future.  It didn’t even look that dystopian!  It looked like roughly what I thought Australia looked like anyway.  At least the more outskirts areas of Australia.

Guess what else didn’t really do it for me?  The performances.  There were about two people in this movie that didn’t just go crazy over the top with their performances.  Mel Gibson and Joanne Samuel didn’t really chew the scenery, but Hugh Keays-Byrne, Tim Burns, Roger Ward, and even Steve Bisley were just crazy strange characterizations that I did not enjoy watching.  I also kind of expected Mel to come off as a total badass in this movie, especially when he starts on his revenge at the end.  The movie even sets Mel up like he’s an epic badass, giving him 12 minutes of setup before his big reveal.  But even towards the end, he never really reached badass status with me.  Maybe in the very last scene he was a little badass, but I wanted so much more.

Expectations may have hurt this movie more than anything else for me, but I was very disappointed in Mad Max.  It’s so critically acclaimed and has achieved such cult status, but all of that is lost on me.  It’s a confusing and disjointed story with characters so over the top that they can’t even see the top anymore.  In my opinion, it’s saved only by some impressive stunts.  But that does not make enough of a movie for me.  Sure, this movie gave the world Mel Gibson, but that’s only worked out about half the time anyway, hasn’t it?  I don’t recommend this movie, but everyone else seems to.  Mad Max gets “I just can’t get it clear in my head” out of “You gotta admit, I sounded good there for a minute, huh?”

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Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

It’s Just Been Reviewed

I made a post to Facebook today that got a certain phrase stuck in my head.  I had heard this phrase before on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast and on Family Guy.  I knew it was from a movie, and I knew which one, and I knew I owned it, but I’d never seen it.  I also wish I had the foresight to know that inspiration would hit me and I would want to watch this today so that I could review that one first.  I hate breaking continuity.  But I didn’t, so I’m just going to jump straight into the review of Lethal Weapon 2, written by Jeffrey Boam, directed by Richard Donner, and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joss Ackland, Patsy Kensit, Joe Pesci, Derrick O’Connor, Traci Wolfe, Darlene Love, and Stephen Kahan.

Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are back.  After a car chase, masked men break into Murtaugh’s house and deliver a warning to him and his wife (Darlene Love).  This causes their captain (Stephen Kahan) to take them off of the case they’re currently on and reassign them to protecting a federal witness and candidate for most annoying person ever, Leo Getz (Joe Pesci).  Someone tries to kill Leo (and who wouldn’t?).  Riggs and Murtaugh take Leo to find the base of operations for the people Leo is going to testify against and find that the attempted assassin is there.  They get the police down there and they shut the place down, until DeNomolos … I mean Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) comes downstairs and tells the police that he and his men are protected by diplomatic immunity, and it has not yet been revoked.  Riggs and Murtaugh leave empty handed, but at least Riggs meets Rudd’s cute secretary with such a bright future ahead of her, Rika Van Den Haas (Patsy Kensit).  Riggs and Murtaugh know that Rudd is up to something, so they do what investigating they can get away with while still still protecting Getz, and Murtaugh begins an extensive study into what it takes to revoke diplomatic immunity protection.

This is a pretty fun movie, but I feel like it doesn’t hold up that well in some ways.  I probably would’ve thought it was awesome if I had seen it 20 years ago, but today it takes a step down to “pretty fun”.  It’s nice that it jumps right into the action, opening with a big car chase.  It keeps up a pretty good amount of over-the-top action throughout as well.  One such thing was a Rube Goldberg-esque death midway through that involved hitting a car on the end of a tow truck driven by the enemy, it flying up over the car and colliding head on with an oncoming car, causing the surfboard on the front of that car to fly off and kill the driver of the tow truck.  The story itself was somewhat hit and miss, though.  It was interesting that they weren’t able to take on the main bad guy because he was protected by diplomatic immunity, but I feel like there are limits to how far you can push the whole diplomatic immunity thing, and DeNomolos passes those limits pretty early on and keeps going.  The love story for Riggs seemed a little awkwardly placed and unnecessary.  It gave Riggs a little motivation towards the end of the movie, but he also finds out that one of the bad guys was responsible for the death of his wife before the events of Lethal Weapon 1, and that would probably suffice for motivation to take down the bad guys.  Also, the fact that they’re really bad guys and Riggs and Murtaugh are good guys would probably suffice.  A lot of the lines are pretty cheesy action phrases, but they’re still pretty good.  The aforementioned (or at least afore-alluded-to) “Diplomatic Immunity”, “It’s just been revoked”, bang was pretty cheesy, but I like that line.  I do like it better when Peter Griffin uses it when it doesn’t make sense, but it’s still good here.  After Murtaugh kills two guys with a nail gun, topping it off with “nailed ’em both” was pretty classy as well.  The nail gun was part of a funny thing that occurred to me in the movie too.  They make a pretty big deal about a construction worker using a nail gun in Murtaugh’s house in the beginning, and later a big deal about the fact that Riggs can dislocate his shoulder to escape from straightjackets, and – SURPRISE!! – these two things come up again in the movie.  I don’t know why they feel the need to foreshadow these things.  We’ll believe they can do these things equally as much when they come up later, but they may also ruin the surprise.  I know how Murtaugh and Riggs are going to get out of these situations because my memory extends for roughly 2 hours, so I still remember when he did it earlier.

The cast performs exactly as they should in this movie: a little bit over the top, but still pretty good.  Mel Gibson didn’t seem nearly as crazy for most of this movie, probably having gotten soft from being happy spending so much time with Murtaugh’s family.  He does a couple of fairly wacky things, and generally has a nice quip to throw in a dangerous situation, but he doesn’t go nuts until the very end when he just finds out that they murdered his wife.  He comes out of the water and kills two dudes with extreme prejudice and really seemed like he’d lost it.  I don’t know why Mel Gibson is so good at acting insane, but he is.  I never found myself particularly interested in Danny Glover’s character in these movies, but they still give the man the best line in the movie.  He kind of annoys me because he spends most of his time talking about how he’s old and doesn’t think they should do the cool action things that Riggs wants to do.  He’s such a stick in the mud.  But speaking of annoying: Leo Getz!  You will quickly regret finding out how annoying Leo Getz.  Getz it?  Yeah, wasn’t funny in the movie either.  But he was a pretty pointless character that would not stop talking about stupid, uninteresting things.  His mouth was running every time he was on screen.  Joss Ackland was good.  He always comes off pretty intimidating, so I like him in a good villain role.  Patsy Kensit did a decent job in the movie, but I only really connected with her character once she got her tits out.  I felt like her character had no reason to be there, and when she’s gone, I didn’t really care.  They didn’t spend a lot of time building the relationship between her and Riggs (and the audience, technically).  She just met him, had dinner with him, then fucked him.  I wasn’t connected enough to care when she was gone.

Lethal Weapon 2 is a still a pretty fun movie that is just starting to show it’s age.  And not just because of Mel Gibson’s hair in it.  There’s a good deal of action, some of it pretty interesting and cool.  The story is decent, but not fantastic, but they sure did write some great one-liners.  I wish Mel Gibson had been more crazy throughout, as he was in the first movie, but at least he wasn’t as annoying as Joe Pesci’s character.  Also, there’s some decent titties.  I already owned this movie (because it came in a four pack with the other three movies), and I might have purchased the movie itself to keep up the collection, but I only would’ve purchased it because the first movie was so good.  It’s available for Netflix streaming, so I could recommend you check it out at least once.  Lethal Weapon 2 gets “In one ear, out the rubber” out of “They’ve been de-kaffir-nated”

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