Monday, 11 March 2013

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (AUS, 1985)

For the last outing Miller has taken a different route for his lone wolf character. Gone are the highway chases, road wars and Max's personal Ford Falcon, this adventure is a completely new kind of beast...with kids...hurrah!

It does seem that Miller took a leaf out of the Lucas book of ideas for this film. A much more toned down Mad Max film with very little blood and road vehicle based death and carnage, but an abundance of children in a kind of tribal Lord of the Flies meets 'The Lost Boys' in a Peter Pan-esque type of way. Not too dissimilar to the way 'Return of the Jedi' went all cute and cuddly towards the end with a large tribe of teddy bears.

Although the change of pace was risky and in my view...not the best decision ever, you gotta give kudos to the writers for being brave enough to go in another direction. The film doesn't really offer much action and adventure at any point to be brutally honest, my opinion. The first half set in Bartertown is a complete bust really as all we get is a seedy dirty dusty desert town inhabited by lots of marauder types and weirdo's yet nothing really happens!

The bad guys aren't really bad at all, just a bit naughty I guess, the plot isn't really of any interest and goes nowhere and the only action is a rather limp fight between Max and a huge helmet wearing foot soldier/bodyguard called Blaster. We also find out the leader of this wasteland dump is errrm...Tina Turner, terrific.

Of course we all knew this before the film came out but it was definitely a sign of the franchise hitting the rocks. After this average kick off things progress towards the desert where Max finds this tribe of kids and where the franchise U-turns harshly, think of an early version of 'Hook' and you might get an idea of what I'm talking about. Its not as cringeworthy and terrible as that Spielberg film but lets be honest its pretty crappy frankly. From here on Max babysits these kids until the plot leads them back to Bartertown for...hmmm not much really, plot is absent without leave.

The sets costumes and makeup for the kids and their homes are nicely done, doesn't look tacky or too childish, luckily it all still fits OK within the Mad Max universe. Of course we do still get some lovely location visuals with some beautifully stunning vast orange and tan coloured Aussie outback shots. These landscapes really are the core of this franchise and give it such depth and scope, it just looks awesome basically.

After observing nothing much in the form of excitement we do eventually get a reasonably solid yet watered down vehicle chase sequence at the end. Its not as intense as you would expect and barely serves up enough thrills to raise a smile, the violence level is at a complete zero here folks, bloodless. I'm not saying that automatically means the movie will be poor but come on...its Mad Max, lets see some claret spillage.

As I said it was brave to go into new territory with Max but maybe this particular idea wasn't the best way. There isn't really anything very memorable anywhere in the film, the title sounds daft and although the Tina Turner theme song is a good tune its all very Bond-like and too glossy. You half expect Turner to start bellowing out her power ballad midway through the film to a montage of Gibson's tanned buttocks...well maybe.