Wednesday, June 17, 2015

MR Mad Max 3

A lone warrior searching for his destiny...a tribe of lost children waiting for a a world battling to survive, they face a woman determined to rule.

The problem is... that woman was Tina Turner!!

I remember a time of chaos. But most of all I remember the Road Warrior, the man we called Max...

Movie: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome also known as Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome or just simply Mad Max 3
Directed by George Miller & George Ogilvie
Release date 1985
Genre Post-apocalyptic Action/Adventure film
Country Australia/USA

Each Mad Max film as always been independent enough from one another.

Just like Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, from the original Evil Dead to Army of Darkness, or between George A. Romero's "Of the Dead" films, the Mad Max series shares a very loose continuity. Not only does details get changed from a film to the next, but the genre of each installment is also quite different between episodes. If the first Mad Max was a sort of dystopian take on a Revenge film and The Road Warrior more of a typical "Western" frontier film set in a post-apocalyptic world, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome can be considered a more typical action/adventure blockbuster film.

The films are not that much tied together and continuity details are not that important in these films. As such, it's not unusual to see the same actors between the films recast as different characters, even if it can be a bit distracting or confusion (see the "Gyro pilot"..).

At first George Miller originally simply wanted to make a sort of post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies film, the story would have followed a tribe of lost children that is discovered by an adult. Since he already had a post-apocalyptic hero on hand, Miller ultimately decided to use Max again!

Despite having worked on the story of the third film immediately after Mad Max 2, it took quite a while for Mad Max 3 to take shape. In fact George Miller had lost interest in the project after his friend and series producer Byron Kennedy sadly died while scouting for locations for the film in an helicopter cash. The film is in fact even dedicated to him.

That is why this "Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome" was actually co-directed by Miller and George Ogilvie. The intentions were there, but his heart wasn't in the project anymore. With some help with Terry Hayes to write the story, Miller would therefore only concentrate on the stunts and the action scenes while The Crossing (1990) director George Ogilvie handled the rest of the performances.

Having two directors aboard helped make the film that much dantesque. But it would also prove its downfall on other aspects.. And it almost feels like Beyond Thunderdome really is two completely films mashed together at times...

This marked the first film in the series to have been financed by American studios. And that's why the film relied so much more on American stars.

Beyond Thunderdome would be the last of the original Mad Max trilogy to feature Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky, right prior becoming huge in the US with Lethal Weapon in 1987.. His days as a former cop are long gone by now, wandering the wasteland as this lone survivor. What surprised (and almost ruined the film) for most fans at the time was the casting of Tina Turner as this new foe only referred to as "Aunty" in the film.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was finally released in 1985. Also notable, its poster art would end up being one of the last done by renowned artist Richard Amsel (Raiders of the Lost Ark or also Flash Gordon to name but a few).  

The story appears to take place roughly a decade since the events Mad Max 2 (but like I said, continuity is not exact in the series). There's now barely any remaining oil left anymore, besides a lucky ones. People have been forced to find alternative means to power vehicles. Most cars are left in complete derelict state by now. Some elements were reimagined for the occasion, Max is clearly roaming a post-nuclear wasteland in this sequel (basically said, a "World War III" happened apparently).

The film opens with some (slightly familiar) pilot and his son stealing Max's stuff. Max is left to wander around until he finally finds a place, "Bartertown".

There Max discovers how this place is overrun by this Aunty Entity character. A sort of warrior queen and ruler of the town. Bartertown itself appears to basically run on pig farts. But she's been losing control of her own town lately. There's this dwarf, "The Master", who is aided by this huge henchman in an armor, "The Blaster". Together they are Master Blaster! And Master Blaster's been getting quite power hungry recently, even daring to challenge Aunty Entity on her own turf, blackmailing Aunty by stopping all access to the methane reserves. Aunty asks Max to challenge Master Blaster into a fight. Max finds the weakness of the giant and accepts.

Welcome to the Thunderdome! To keep people in check and avoid a possible new war, a "Thunderdome" was put in place to solve any issues. The rules are simple: "Two men enter, One man leaves". It's a big gladiatorial-type of fight in this huge dome arena. Max discovers Blaster was only a big kid with down syndrome, and refuses to execute him! He's just a child!

So they sentence Max for judgment at the hands of "the wheel of fate"! Between death, hard labor, "Aunty's choice", "spin again", forfeit, a sentence to the underworld, amputation and life imprisonment, Max will get... The Gulag!? Which despite the name appears to truly be exile.

And that's when we truly go Beyond Thunderdome, and the film becomes a completely different movie.

Max is banished into the wasteland once more. He is saved by this tribe of wild primitive children living in an oasis run by this girl named Savannah. They appear to be the surviving children (or children of the survivors) of a plan that crashed long ago. They mistake him for their savior, "the flight captain". But Max can't help them and guide them back to "Tomorrow-morrow Land".

A bunch of kids run off back in Max's footsteps - in the direction of Bartertown! He must stop them! One of them even dies in what is possibly Mad Max 3's most violent death scene (an innocent kid getting swallowed up by a sand pit!). The Master helps Max this time around. They defy the corrupt ruler of Bartertown and we finally get this Mad Max film's big chase scene in the desert. They get some help from the pilot from earlier in the film, Jedediah and his son. Aunty finally spares Max at the end of the film, out of respect.

The film finally ends with the children now living in the ruins of Sydney, telling the tale of the man who saved them, while Max wanders off in the sunset, on his endless journey once more...

Despite all of its issues, let it be said that Beyond Thunderdome is still quite creative.

Max is back. Now only concerned with his own survival (at least, at first). Aunty Entity is a fun character if you consider how possibly this woman was able to rise up to be in charge of this entire post-apocalyptic town. She's an intelligent and smart foe, but she's not even a real movie villain as Max never truly faces her directly. She's sort of a positive villain figure, and not your more traditional movie villain. The part was always written with Tina Turner in mind, but George Miller never expected to actually get her for the role.

Along main stars Mel Gibson and Tina Turner the film also sees the return of Bruce Spence as Jedediah the Pilot, the "Gyro Captain from the previous Mad Max 2. He was offered the part late into the production. They needed someone for the new pilot, why not use the same actor! It was not exactly the same character, but he turned out actually sort of similar. It's left plenty open for fan interpretation since Max doesn't appear to recognize him, as most details are kept vague in the Mad Max series. They were having some trouble casting anyone else for the role, why not him again?! Mad Max 3 features a few other notable actors, with first and foremost in my eyes regular Australian theater actress Helen Buday as this Savannah Nix girl, the leader of the tribe of wild survivor children.

George Miller only directed the action scenes and it kinda shows.

The opening starts pretty good and in pure Mad Max fashion. Speaking of, the sandstorm at the end of the film was real!! And they actually had a camera plane actually fly into it for some of those shots!

By now into the Mad Max backstory oil was now almost completely gone. It's pretty clever to see people turn to methane from pig excrements! We get to see the view of the post-apocalyptic world from the point of view of children who know nothing about the old world. Nobody's truly a villain in the film here, Aunty Entity and Master Blaster's perspective both make some sense. Even the use of the Thunderdome to settle dispute seems like the best organized way to  avoid any fights and wars that ruined the "previous world".

It can be said that each film are told from the perspective of specific different character, why all these films are so radically different in tone or why there's some discrepancies (in Max's backstory, etc.). Since the true protagonists here end up being the kids, that's why the old world now sounds like such a distant memory that ended decades ago, unlike what we saw happening along the first film.

The film starts and end with Max a bitter loner. Having seen his family murdered in front of his eyes he gets the chance to have a new family here but ends up ditching them once the job is done. Always alone. Always getting into trouble and becoming an unwilling hero before he finally runs off walking away alone.

Believe it or not, Max's own name is only said once in the entire film (to the Master).

While not as important as they where in Mad Max 2, the vehicles still got some special attention and care. To reflect the state of the world their conditions' been getting worse from film to film. No more oil. Cars are now barebone wrecks consisting of only chassis and custom makeshift shells. We only get to see one car more or less intact, and it's Max's own new "Camel Wagon", all the rest are custom-built remaining cars.

Mad Max 3 wanted itself a lot bigger and more extravagant, but in the process it lost some of the intimacy that made the previous films so great.

While it received a pretty positive reception at the time, people have now mixed opinions on it due to the second half of the film. And I can see why it's often considered the lowest point in the original Mad Max trilogy. The children overtake the second half of the film which turns into a sort of bizarre Peter Pan. There were some great ideas in the film, but the film sort of loses focus mid-point.

If there's only thing to retain from the film it's the now-classic Thunderdome. It provides such a fun and original fight idea, well staged and unique.

The music is from French composer Maurice Jarre, who's mostly well known for his score for Lawrence of Arabia. Another reason why this film's more of an adventure film unlike the previous installments. Replacing Brian May who composed for the previous two films. The film also contains a few current pop songs including two songs performed by Tina Turner specifically for the film. The original orchestral score gives the film this time a more "epic" and atmospheric feel, which sounds pretty usual for blockbuster films. A real change from Mad Max's previous bleak settings.

Overall, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is a decent film. But it never reaches the greatness of past Mad Max episodes. As such I can only recommend to check it out if you're a big fan of the series or old school 1980s action adventure films. Check It Out!

It actually starts pretty good. The intention was certainly there. Miller wanted to make it a much bigger scale Star Wars-esque Mad Mayx installment but it simply never reaches the same brilliance as The Road Warrior. More Lord of the Flies than anything else. Tina Turner herself was far from as bad as some like to consider her in this film, she actually works in the film.

If there's any problem with Mad Max 3 is how the film feels like two completely different films stuck together. It starts mostly like the previous films, then once the story actually goes "Beyond Thunderdome" we get treated to a far more campy family-friendly adventure film. But, hey, it's still pretty quotable if anything.

Max's "greatest adventure" (as per film taglines) turned out a step below the original films. And this was the last Mel Gibson-era Mad Max film!

Pretty enjoyable, and not as bad as people tend to make it. In fact there's a lot of good, from production designs to the few new unique ideas. I still love the whole Thunderdome concept to this very day, personally. But it just feels like a more traditional Hollywood blockbuster action film. The second half of the film really strays too far off the original more violent mature roots of the franchises...

After that the Mad Max series would take a break for the several next years. George Miller actually tried for a really long to get a fourth film off the ground, but it proved a lot more difficult than expected. Things is, big explosive action blockbusters would soon quickly took over Hollywood for the next decades and nobody ever looked back at Miller's influential original post-apocalyptic series. With a renewed interest in old nostalgic proprieties (heck, we even got a new Tron out of it!), he was finally able to greenlit a sequel after all those year, cleverly disguised as a reboot/revamp of the series for a new generation. And that's how we finally got Mad Max: Fury Road this year, but that is a story for another time...

I give it:
2 / 3 VaultBoys!

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