Mad Max: Fury Road comes out in theaters this weekend and, unlike a multitude of remakes and reboots we’ve gone through on recent years, this movie actually serves as the fourth movie in a series.
Given it’s the third film in the series, Max Max Beyond Thunderdome, came out 30 years ago (1985), so it would be understandable that there is a whole generation that have no knowledge, or at best a passing knowledge, of the originals from whence this year’s version came. Luckily, a new release from Scream Factory allows newcomers and longtime fans alike a chance to see the original just ahead of the new release to gain some understanding of what’s going on with the Mad Max character.
In 1979 a former Australian medical doctor-turned-director, George Miller, got the chance to direct his first ever in the dystopian action movie Mad Max, which he also helped to co-write. Mad Max would become one of the biggest movies of its era, created an entirely new genre of movie, propelled Miller’s directing career (Babe, Happy Feet), and introduced the world to a young, unknown Australian actor named Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon). The movie has become a classic and adored by fans of all ages around the globe for both its take on a bleak future society and for its realistic portrayals of vehicle crashes and violence. For those not in the know, here’s the general plot for Mad Max:
Set in a not-too-distant future version of Australia, Mad Max shows us a world in which fuel sources are scarce and people either live in remote country areas or in metropolitan areas but the areas between are ruled by roving gangs (mostly motorcycle gangs) that terrorize anybody that cross them and sometimes come into the city to wreak havoc there too. To fight these gangs the government has set up a police force. Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is one of those officers and arguably the most skilled/fearless driver on the force. After witnessing a clearly guilty gang member get released only to turn around and horribly burn a fellow officer in an ambush Max decides to leave the force and takes his wife and daughter away for a vacation to the country. Unfortunately, the gang follows him and after his wife and daughter get viciously attacked by the gang Max goes on a revenge spree picking off gang members one by one until he gets to the last one.
It’s really quite a simple story and, it’s an origin story like we’ve become used to in recent years with movies like Batman Begins. Arguably, Mad Max is not the best movie of the Mad Max series but I would argue that to understand his actions in future movies you need to understand how he became who he is and why he acts the way he does. It adds strength to the other movies.
The movie holds up surprisingly well today and the car chases and bone-crunching wrecks and ton-notch by today’s standards, especially considering the movie’s meager $500K budget (as a comparison, Fury Road has a $150 Million budget). With that budget there would of course be limitations but they did very well with what they had. Now I will say that the movie starts out BIG and then does progress a little slow but ultimately builds to a great, action-pack final act. Some people might not care much for that in an “action movie” but I think the slower middle lends more satisfaction to the ending. Along with Gibson’s Max, this film works also because his primary adversary (a gang leader named Toecutter) does an equally impressive job in his role. He is creepy beyond belief and you can really believe him as the person he is.
Mad Max is presented in 1080p High Definition in a 2.35:1 ratio. This is possibly the best visual presentation of Mad Max we could hope to see. It almost appears that every single frame was gone through individually and cleaned up to pristine condition. Try as I might I was unable to find any image issues, noise, scratches, or anything else noticeable. It’s entirely possible it looks better now than when originally released. The images are sharp, the colors are natural looking and the detail is amazing: I was actually able to read a tattoo that I could not in a previous version. The audio comes in an Australian 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Australian 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo, and an American Dubbed Mono DTS-HD MA (for those that didn’t know the American release version as dubbed over because of the thick accents of the Australian actors), I recommend the Australian audio version to the American dubbed. The sound is very clear, though there are times when the dialog is a little quiet and the music a little loud and you have to pay attention. For the most part it is well-balanced and the crash noises sound great on the low end, explosions blow up real nicely.
- Contains Both the Original Australian English Audio and the US English Dubbed Audio
- NEW Interviews With Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel And Director Of Photography David Eggby
- Audio Commentary By Art Director Jon Dowding, Director Of Photography David Eggby, Special Effects Artist Chris Murray And Tim Ridge
- Mel Gibson: The Birth Of A Superstar
- Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Photo Galleries
Overall, this is the best presentation of Mad Max that has been seen. Existing fans of the series will love the treatment it has received and enjoy noticing small details they have never seen before. It’s also going to be fun for those who only have seen the American dub version to see the original Australian dialog.
For newcomers, this movie is a great introduction to the Mad Max character and his history. Whether you are watching one of the original sequels from the 1980’s or the upcoming Fury Road sequel this movie will give you a better understanding of what’s going on and the main character himself. I highly recommend.
Mad Max: Collector’s Edition is available from Scream Factory on Tuesday, May 5th
Fun Fact: Mel Gibson never auditioned for the role of Max. He came to the auditions with a friend and the filmmakers liked his look and asked him to return to play a biker. Upon his return he was deemed to look more like the lead role.
Photo Credit: Scream Factory