Listen All! This is the Truth of It.
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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