Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mad Max Trilogy [A Fat Jesus Trilogy Review]

The Mad Max series has been one I've heard about all my life. My mom and dad saw the second two in theaters, it was Mel Gibson's launching point and that 'Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior' is one of the best action and sci-fi films of the 1980s. With 'Mad Max: Fury Road' hitting theaters tomorrow, and it receiving a ton of positive acclaim already, I figured I'd go through the series and do a little catch up before seeing the new film myself. It's a series, that if you know anything about video games, really remind me of the 'Borderlands' games. Post-apocalyptic and dystopian as all hell, the 'Mad Max' trilogy has an outstanding lore and narrative, character style that is entirely unique and vehicle chases that still hold up to this day. 'Mad Max' is a sci-fi and action series that at times, feels more like pure action and adrenaline.


'Mad Max' is set entirely in a future dystopian Australia. Everything is beginning to break down due to a massive energy crisis. The Outback has been reduced to small communities, while bigger cities still function. All while motorcycle gangs roam and terrorize the people. The Main Force Patrol was created to patrol and uphold some semblance of law and order. A gang member, Nightrider (Vincent Gil), killed a MFP rookie and is on the run. He is eventually chased down by the MFP's top pursuit man, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), crashes and is killed in a fiery explosion. The Acolytes, Nightrider's former gang, lead by Toecutter and Bubba Zanetti (Hugh Keays-Byrne and Geoff Perry), terrorize a town and end up raping a girl, to which the court somehow throws the case out. This angers Goose (Steve Bisley) and he hunts down the gang, only to be severely injured, resulting in Max having to take some time off. Max, his wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) and their infant son, Sprog, travel to the coast to vacation. Things take a horrid turn once The Acolytes begin to stalk them.

'Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior' is set two years after the events of the first film. Law and order have completely vanished from  society and with the MFP disbanded, Max (Gibson) is left to roam the desert in his V-8 Pursuit Special, scavenging for food, water and supplies. His companion is an Australian cattle dog and his sawed off shotgun, one of few working firearms left. Max runs into a man named Wez's (Vernon Wells), a crazed motorcycle rider. After taking out two of his members and injuring him, Max finds a rare bit of fuel. He then stumbles across an autogyro and its owner, Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence), who ambushes him. The two eventually pair up when he tells Max of an oil refinery, when the two arrive, it is under siege by a motorcycle gang. It's leader, who goes by The Humongous (Kjell Nilsson), threatens the colony in exchange for safe passage. Now Max, Gyro Cpatain, a young boy Max befriends, Feral Kid (Emil Minty), and the rest of this community, must come up with a plan to escape the gang with their gas and their lives.

'Mad Max 3: Beyond the Thunderdome' is set 15 years after the events of the second film. Max (Gibson) has been wandering the deserts of Australia and has amassed a herd of camels. One day, he is attacked by a pilot, Jedediah (Bruce Spence) and his son as they steal his camel drawn wagon. Max follows them to an outlaw town by the name of Bartertown. Max forces his way into town and is brought before their leader, Auntie Entity (Tina Turner). She enlists him to defeat the owner of a pig refinery, "Master Blaster" (Master being a small man that rides on the back of Blaster) who provides energy for the town and has been a thorn in her side. Eventually, Max faces Blaster in what is called, The Thunderdome. It is structure that allows the entry of two men, but the exit of only one, "two men enter, one man leaves," in a fight to the death with no rules at all. After the fight with Blaster, in which Max refuses to kill him, Max is exiled to the desert. He is found by a desert dweller named Savannah Nix (Helen Buday), who takes him back to her village of kids, who are the survivors of a Boeing 747 crash. They are under the impression that Max is some sort of God, because he looks like a pilot. Max tells them the world they think is out there no longer exists, but Savannah refuses to believe him. Despite his warning Savannah sets off with a group to find "Tomorrow-morrow Land" forcing Max to save them from perhaps more than the unforgiving desert.


'Mad Max' is a film that is one of the most unique looking and visually pleasing films of its time. Released in 1979, it set up a lore for the rest of the 'Mad Max' trilogy gloriously. All of this done through the mind of George Miller, the acting of Mel Gibson and car chase scenes that are truly adrenaline pumping. The film's story and characters are a huge plus, as nothing like this film (quality-wise), as ever been achieved. The story is highly original and captivating and the characters, Max, Toecutter, Joeanne, etc, all have a tremendous role and presence throughout the entire film. This is aided greatly by the acting chops of Mel Gibson, who plays the family man, the officer and finally the vengeful executioner beautifully. Never off, Mel Gibson is the heart of this film and doesn't feel forced or out of place. George Miller's eye for style is not lost in any of this, as the characters are crafted beautifully and are entirely unique. The hero is the bad-ass draped in leather carrying a sawed of shotgun, the bad guys are motorcycle riding Legion of Doom impersonators, while Max's family is quite literally the embodiment of  "home" and "safe" to him. The action is outstanding throughout as are the vehicle chase scenes. The opening scene with the MFP chasing Nightrider and one of the closing chases between Max and Toecutter are phenomenal. These scenes make up the bulk of the film and are never boring. They keep you glued to the screen and the action is pulse pounding. Shout-out to the cinematographer and composer, David Eggby and Brian May. The sweeping shots of the Australian coast and grasslands are beautiful look at during chases and transitional scenes. While the music really did a great job of accenting everything going on at a given time.
'Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior' is awesome! Paired with a viewing of the first film, you get everything in an action-filled thrill ride from start to finish. We know Max from the first film, and we get a synopsis to start, so there's not much introduction needed to the character. We're brought back to an even more ravaged Australia, where all laws a basically gone, and groups of people roam free doing whatever they please. The story is simple, save the town and the gas from the bad guys, but done in a way that makes you want to keep watching. The minimal dialogue is done quite well in this film, people only talk when they absolutely have to, letting the action spell out the story. Mel Gibson has really settled into the role of Max. In this film he does a great job of of being the silent man, who doesn't have the trust of everyone, but does the dirty work that no one else is doing. The style and look that George Miller brought to the first film is still here in full force. Dean Semler is at the helm for cinematography in this film and does an outstanding job. The widescreen, sweeping shots of the barren Australian deserts are awesome and  really adds to the immersion into this post-apocalyptic wasteland. Combine this with the music of Brian May again and we have yet anther fantastic looking and awesome sounding film. But let's not stop here, as the action in this film is ever better than in the first. We get the vehicle chases, but ramped up to extreme levels, especially the final chase scene between the town and the motorcycle gang. It runs over the final 20 minutes of the film and showcases to amount of creativity that went into making these types of chase scenes worth it throughout the first two films. Cars exploded, people were massacred and most of all, it looks phenomenal (there was even a twist at the end of it). I love the lore, character development, for Max, and the style and action that the second 'Mad Max' brings to the table. It's definitely worthy of being one of the best sequels of all time.
'Mad Max 3: Beyond the Thunderdome' is what I like to call "a tale of two halves," even though there's three distinct parts, the first two make of the majority of the film. We'll go into more detail in a moment, but the first half felt like the rest of the Mad Max series, whereas the second half traversed the fantasy world aspect more, think 'The Lost Boys.' Yet again, the action is this movie is fantastic, although now it's much more of the hand to hand combat variety. "The Thunderdome" itself is an awesome entity and the first part of the story revolving around it, leading to the eventual fight is awesome. When we finally get to the fight between Blaster and Max, it's one of the most inventive and unique fights of all time, and certainly for the time it was released, 1985. I love everything about the first half of the film, because it is Mad Max to the core. Awesome visuals, a cool story, great action. Once we get to the middle part, for a long portion of the film everything slows down.  We get the introduction of the desert dwellers, Max is forced to be a sort of father figure, which is a nice callback, but hardly who Max has been shown to be over the last film and a half. This middle portion feels so out of place, but it's hardly bad in the lightest, it just wasn't for this film. The final act comes full circle and we end with an epic chase scene, while not as good as the second film, shows that vehicle chases were still a top priority and it was done well. Mel Gibson continued to kill it as Max, while the introduction of Tina Turner and Auntie, Helen Buday as Savannah Nix really helped the character development in this film, and made the dialogue flow much better. The story overall was fine, as with the rest of the films, but it's the style, score, cinematography and action that will keep you into this film.


While I just touched on the bare bones of everything, the Mad Max Trilogy is a gritty look at a post apocalyptic, dystopian world, that has descended completely into madness. From the first film the the third, we watch as the Australian landscape go from luscious and green to a barren desert wasteland. We go from seeing people that are friendly and nice, to a world where everyone is crazed, out for themselves and completely devoid of morals. We even see this in our hero, or anti-hero if you will, Max. In the first film, he's a bright-eyed father, with a loving wife. By the end of the second film he is been hardened to the land. By the final film, he is cursed forever to live alone in the deserts of this barren world. The action, cinematography, score and overall lore created by this trilogy is amazing. With everything firing on all cylinders. The acting and character work, runs through Max. Who is played superbly throughout by Mel Gibson. All of the supporting roles by bad guy bikers and evil town leaders, really just there to further Max. I'm really into this series now and I look forward to what 'Mad Max: Fury Road' is going to add to this lore, because all I'm hearing, is that it's awesome.

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