With Fury Road hitting theatres very soon (I’d be lying if I said I’m not excited) I thought this would be an ideal time to examine the classic trilogy and see what makes it so great, and why, over thirty years after the first time we watched the Road Warrior (character) appear on the big screen, we are still watching him make his way in the post-apocalyptic world.
The first md max film was undoubtedly low budget, assembled from whatever George Miller could get his hands on in the Australian outback (such as Mel Gibson). Despite the brilliance of most of the film’s aspects I have to admit that sometimes this micro-budget shows, especially when compared to the high stakes films we have available today. But in many ways I also get the feeling that perhaps Miller intended this. It really does give the impression of the remaining scraps of humanity fighting amongst themselves. The mechanical and raw power of the movie is only matched by the engine of the interceptor that the steely Gibson manoeuvres through the outback on his revenge quest. Despite the limitations, the crashes and destruction are executed with a sense of perfection and more importantly it brings this world to life in such a vibrant and violent way that it sets things up excellently for a sequel to improve.
The Road Warrior is in almost every respect a perfect film. You want to argue, then you’re the only person who does because Road Warrior holds an astonishing 98% (for a long time it was 100% until one ignorant critic gave a nasty review, yes I instantly dislike this person) approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Originally it was not advertised as a sequel, in fact, half of the people that saw it probably didn’t even know it was a sequel. But the action and energy never lets up but rather than use dialogue to build this world up, it uses the scenery and set pieces to establish the full extent of humanity’s depletion. The vision is a brutal and desolate one, but it ties so well into the theme and tagline of the film ‘One man can make a difference’. This story is not just random destruction, it’s about Max finding a purpose in his life after revenge, it’s about him learning not just to survive, but live. Some have criticised Max as being too much of an archetype hero, but I think we witness a reluctant man coming to terms with the fact that people still exist in the world, and trying to reconnect with who he once was. When I watched it again recently It occurred to me that the Road Warrior is very reminiscent of a western anti-hero, a troubled loner who sets out to help fair but fearful folk from bandits. Whatever way you look at it, Road Warrior just seems to work perfectly.
Beyond Thunderdome generates some controversy. I’ve seen people praise this film as the best of the Mad Max series (such as Roger Ebert) but others (such as myself) regard it as a decent film, but not on the same level as Road Warrior. Originally it was written to be a spin-off story about a group of children in the post-apocalyptic war but Max was added at the last minute to give it more of a commercial appeal. While there are amazing scenes throughout, particularly the fight between Max and Blaster, the lack of brutality doesn’t quite match the tone of the previous films. It also panders out slightly during the last hour, having used all of its tricks earlier. But as I said, it’s more mayhem, more madness and more Max.
So those are my thoughts on the Mad Max Trilogy, what do you think, which is your favourite and are you excited about Fury Road, let me know leaving a comment and don’t forget to click the button at the top of the page to recommend this blog on google. Now I’m off to drive into the sunset.