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Mad Max Trilogy - Blu-ray Review

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Mad Max Trilogy - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

It’s time, once again, to barrel down the post-apocalyptic Fury Road, Mad Maxinators.  Put the pedal to the medal and hang on tight.  There’s no place to rest easy.  Not anymore.  Not with the evil Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the disfigured Humungus (Kjell Nilsson), and power-mad Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) on the prowl.

Warner Bros presents 1979’s Mad Max and its two sequels – 1982's Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (making its Blu-Ray debut) – in one heavy metal package for fans to hungrily carve open and gobble up.  At long last, all three films can be appreciated in their new HD skin.  It’s time to give this Australian import some fresh praise now that its impact can be fully recognized.

Imagined and directed by George Miller (a former doctor), Mad Max had such an impact on audiences that it and its star, Mel Gibson, single-handedly sparked up the stalled engines of the action genre.  We were all about space and lasers and aliens thanks to Star Wars, Alien and its knock-offs.  Miller and his creative team return us to earth in this harrowing – and probably truer – vision of Earth’s starved future.  The West-meets-a junked-up demolition derby idea on a mineral-stripped planet (still) works.  Mad Max, a product of late 70s mojo, keeps the violence visceral and its vehicular homicides never brake for children.

But it was The Road Warrior and its 13-minute REAL (no CGI needed) tanker chase that really brought out the fast and the furious in its followers.  More fans were impressed with the beats and the dark humor of Miller’s creation than ever before.  Even more were impressed with Gibson’s black Ford Falcon V-8 Pursuit Special with the super-charger on the hood.  With more rape and violence on its landscape, The Road Warrior turned Max (Gibson) into a hero as it borrowed a bit of Joseph Campbell’s mythos and injected him with it.  Mad Max made Australia a star.  The Road Warrior made Mel Gibson a star.

When it came time for 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Miller and co-director George Ogilvie, up the ante with the intense Thunderdome – a truly remarkable set piece for action scenes - and a crude civilization operating its “toys” with methane refinery fueled by pig feces.  While it gets a bit too Peter Pan-like with the inclusion of the group of children that revive Max and not nearly as violent as its predecessors, Beyond Thunderdome – theme song and all - is no chump.  The gladiator arena did much to boost this one.

Three pictures in and the post-apocalyptic vision still has room to grow.  Miller is directing a new installment in the franchise, Fury Road, with Tom Hardy behind the wheel.  Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult are also in the cast, and a certain drifter (Gibson) will make his presence known. Expected to open in 2014, the film is currently in production.  This set is a testament to a vision that inspired a lot more than just colorful villains and loud cars.

Without Gibson in Mad Max you have no Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, no Stallone in Rambo and no Willis in Die Hard.  Hell, without The Road Warrior itself, you probably wouldn’t even have Gibson in Lethal Weapon.  Yeah, Mad Max is that big of a deal.

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Mad Max Trilogy - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 4, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (3 BDs)

The Mad Max Trilogy roars unto the scene with a great-looking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. For all three – mostly due to their age – releases, there are noticeable wear and tear moments.  There are – due to the limits of the era - several soft spots in the photography and minor color disparities throughout each film.  For the most part, the video is in rather excellent condition. There’s a thin layer of grain while displaying comfortably bright contrast levels and clean, crisp whites. Blacks are true and accurate with strong shadow delineation. The color palette is limited by the cinematography, but primaries come in vivid and richly-saturated. Fine object and textural details are distinct with several scenes looking remarkably sharp and well-defined.   The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on all three are front heavy and, while not perfect, are fairly solid for the action films.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • You get two commentaries with this release; one for Mad Max and one for The Road Warrior and they are excellent ones.  My guess is that Beyond Thunderdome’s tragedy – the death of one of the producers of the film - still makes it difficult for Miller to discuss which is why there is no commentary for that film.  For Mad Max, the commentary is supplied by Jon Dowding (art direction), David Eggby (cinematography), Chris Murray (special effects), and Tim Ridge.  For The Road Warrior, Director George Miller and Cinematographer Dean Semler open up about the film and its impact.

Special Features:

The Mad Max Trilogy arrives - with Beyond Thunderdome making its debut - on Blu-ray from Warner Bros. The three-disc set comes packaged in a tin box with pictures inside and out of the iconic Max in tattered leathers, sawed-off shotgun close at hand. Bonus features are few and usually just limited to trailers, but the Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon feature adds a much appreciated context even if it was made a few years ago.

  • Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon (26 min)
  • Leonard Maltin Introduction for The Road Warrior (4 min)

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