Mad Max (SE)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In a savage, post-apocalyptic land, Officer Max Rockatansky (Gibson) is the law. When nomadic bikers led by the deranged Toecutter (Keays-Byrne) murder his friend and attack his family, he unleashes revenge upon them with the aid of his 600 horsepower Interceptor until the confrontation reaches explosive dimensions.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This is the classic beginning to the Mad Max trilogy. The film was produced in 1979 at a cost of $400,000 and went on to gross hundreds of millions in profit. With good reason. Mel Gibson makes his stunning debut in this picture and his strength and charisma carry it to greatness. Filmed on the deserted roads of southern Australia and featuring some of the most fantastic, souped-up muscle cars, this is the road movie that set the tone for all others that followed. The spectacular action sequences of George Miller and the unbelievable camerawork of this movie succeed like no other in bringing you inside the rowdy vehicles as they race, spin, crash and blow up all over the place. You can practically smell the sweetness of the gasoline and the stench of the burning rubber. Some spectacular stunts and special effects manage to keep you sweating it out throughout the picture and make it real hard for you to obey the speed limit the next time you hop in your car for a trip to the supermarket.
In addition to all of the above though, the glue holding all of this together is the superb performance by then-unknown Mel Gibson. Making only his second appearance on film, his charm and presence are all over this and he goes thorough the entire range of emotions he has become famous for. Original performances by the entire supporting cast make his one of the most unusual and eccentric films you’ll lay your eyes upon.
You begin this little journey with a feature-length commentary track hosted by David Eggby (Director of Photography), Jon Dowding (Art Director), Chris Murray (Special Effects Supervisor) and Tim Ridge (Film Historian & Mad Max expert). This is a pretty serious commentary track and also quite interesting, although it focuses mainly on the technical aspects of the shoot. The coolest part is that they share a lot of tricks as to what they did to get around the small budget they were working with. While you listen to the commentary, you can also fire up the Trivia and Fun Fact Track, which is a “pop-up” type of feature, which will appear at certain parts of the film and display some fact or trivia about the movie. The reason I suggest using this at the same time as the commentary is that these little pop-ups are unfortunately few and far between, and this feature is not really useful as a stand-alone.
Two documentaries are also included. The first on is a 16-minute long featurette called “Mel Gibson: The Birth of a Superstar” and focuses, you guessed it, on the start of this film and on how this film helped make him a start. If, like me, you are a fan of Mr. Gibson, it’s definitely worth a listen. The second documentary is a 25-minute long clip called “Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon”. This discusses the rise of this film from low-budget indy production to cult favourite. Very interesting as it discusses various aspects of the movie, such as stunts, special effects, casting and all that jazz. As far as documentaries go, this one is pretty solid. The only disappointment in both though, is that we never hear from Mel himself, or from director George Miller. Many trailers and TV spots are also there for you to check out. In addition to the original trailer, 4 TV Spots are there and as a little kicker, you get a trailer for the Special edition of The Terminator, whose sequel used the final shot of Mad Max as its final shot as well. The last little nugget is a gallery of posters, featuring Mad Max in a heap of different languages.
It’s really great to finally be able to watch one of my favourite films the way it was meant to be seen. This should definitely be part of any collection. The high quality of the DVD and its features, combined with the fact that this film is a classic make it a solid case for purchase. With its high re-watch value, I can’t imagine anyone regretting buying this thing. You’ll be able to hear the engines roar, to smell the exhaust fumes and to feel the wind in your hair when you strap this baby in your DVD player and let Mad Max take her away…