Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

9 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

In my humble opinion, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” is the best of the “Mad Max” movies, which is very surprising considering the impact of “The Road Warrior,” the sequel to the original film “Mad Max” that I liked more than the original, actually. “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” is the third in this post-apocalyptic action-film series about a man named Max, who walks around the wasteland that was once America. I liked this better than “The Road Warrior” because of its greater surprises, amazing locations in its fictional world, and (I’m not gonna lie) some of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen. Mad Max remains the same, but the world around him has improved greatly.

To begin the movie, we get aerial shots of this world as Mad Max is forced to ride through the desert on a carriage carried by camels. And as the movie goes on, we see that mankind lives by its own set of new rules and order. Mad Max (Mel Gibson) finds his way to Bartertown, a village constructed out of automobile parts. In Bartertown, anything goes and anything stays. You sell, you buy, you do whatever. The ruler is an imperious queen named Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) and the supervisor is a fat man named the Collector (Frank Thring). And there’s also a little man with an attitude.

Bartertown is powered by an energy source driven by the leavings of…pigs. You see, there are countless pigs in Bartertown’s main factory that eat. Their leavings are used as methane gas. Mad Max finds a job, working with the pigs. However, that requires walking through piles of pig crap.

Bartertown itself makes the first half-hour of this movie memorable and enchanting. But that’s just the beginning. Also in this new world is Thunderdome, a spherical arena that includes the most original idea in the whole series. The spectators climb on the dome to watch matches being fought between two competitors. How do you win? Don’t die. The competitors use harnesses to leap up and down and try to kill each other. As Mad Max is chosen to compete in Thunderdome, it turns into one of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen in an action movie.

Mad Max survives Thunderdome and escapes Bartertown but then comes across a tribe of children, who dress and act like Native Americans. They believe that they will be saved by someone and they believe that Mad Max is that person. But of course, Mad Max doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or even who he is anymore, for that matter.

Everything comes down to a thrilling action scene that occurs on a train. Tina Turner and her cohorts must fight Mad Max, whose only army is the tribe of savage children.

I don’t really know what else to write about “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” except that I very much admired it. I admired it for its look and how the characters were projected, I admired it for the sets (especially Bartertown, Thunderdome, and even the kids’ home which looks like the home of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys), and I admired it for the spirit in its storytelling. Director George Miller also made the original Mad Max movies and delivers true craftsmanship and a great deal of fun. And I believe “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” is the best in the series.

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