Friday, May 15, 2015

Movie Review: "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (1985)

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Movie"Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome"
Director: George Miller & George Ogilvie
Year: 1985
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

After Max (Mel Gibson) has all his gear stolen while in the wasteland, he heads to Barter Town to locate the man who stole his stuff. In order to enter Barter Town, Max must have something to trade, and with all his goods gone, he offers his services for 24 hours to Aunty Entity (Tina Turner), who runs Barter Town. Aunty Entity wants Max to help to get rid of Master Blaster, who runs the underground of Barter Town and controls its energy supply. Master Blaster consists of two men: a little person named The Master (Angelo Rossitto), who is the brains, and The Blaster (Paul Larsson), a mindless brute who does the Master's will. Entity wants the Blaster dead so she can impose her will on the Master and take over energy production. When Max eventually breaks the deal, he is banished to the desert with no water, where he is saved by a tribe of children who believe he will fulfill a prophecy and lead them out of the desert to Tomorrow-morrow land. 

After the success of the first two Ozploistation cult classics "Mad Max" and "The Road Warrior," "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" moves up in budget and for the first time, receives financing from the United States. This causes a few not necessarily good changes and a severe lack of amazingness. In the past films, all the actors were always Australian, or at the very least put on a fake Australian accents, but due to said US financing, a lot of American actors were brought in to star and we believe it is to the film's detriment. Tina Turner? WHY??? This does not go unnoticed as there is often a strong lack of accents in this sequel, if you can even call it that since it often feels like an entirely different franchise, just with the same lead character. The filmmakers this time around also made the inane, bizarre mistake of a decision to make "Beyond Thunderdome" rated PG-13, where all the past and luckily the future Mad Max films have been and will hopefully be rated R. This lack of an R rating hurts the Mad Max feel overall since there can no longer be the same joyful action sequences with sheer and utter insanity, madness and sometimes murder...okay, always murder. In fact, as we mentioned, there are times when it doesn't feel like a Mad Max film at all.

The movie does still contain some of that cool looking post-apocalyptic style though, but it is definitely not the same with a PG-13 rating. If the whole movie was more like the first half of the film, it probably would have been much better overall. The scenes with Barter Town, getting methane gas from piggy poop for energy, the power struggle between Aunty Entity and Master Blaster, as well the Thunderdome with fights to the death all feel very Mad Max. It's after Max is banished and comes across the tribe of kids, however, where it starts to feel more like "Hook" or "The Goonies" as opposed to something from the Mad Max franchise. It seems to stop being a post-apocalyptic action film right in the dead center of the run time and moves into family adventure comedy with a lot of dust and Tina Turner's weird Princess Leia-esque hair bun/earring things involved. When Max and the kids raid Barter Town, they attack the guards by tripping them and knocking them into pig crap, but there is never anything too violent, which is somewhat perplexing. During the final chase scene, they battle against Aunty Entity's men by hitting them with pans and knocking them out, loud bonk noise included, of course. Entity's right-hand man runs his car into the front of the train as it explodes into a fireball only to have him simply holding onto the train relatively unharmed aside from being covered in ash. Can we say "Taken 3," anyone? Now we know where Liam Neeson got the idea to simply walk away form multiple crashes unscathed. All the action in this final chase is very cartoony as opposed to the past films where these final moments were gritty, intense and graphically violent. Since George Miller had another director working with him on this film, we wonder where his head was at and how much Olgivie had to do with the destruction of the Mad Max style. There was apparently a personal trauma going on in Miller's life at the time, so maybe it impacted him to the point where he wasn't thinking or working clearly, and it certainly shows if this is the case. All this being said, "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" still can be a fun ride, especially the first half of it which is pretty damn good despite it's lower MPAA rating. If you can enjoy the portions before it falls into self-parody, give it a watch just to say you finished the trilogy. We hope George Miller's heart is in it when we watch his latest installment, a reboot/sequel hybrid called "Mad Mad: Fury Road."

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend the movie: Sure, why not?

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