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The original ass-kicking Mad Max movies get repackaged on this sleek,fun Blu-ray box set...
Warner / 296 Minutes / 1979-1985 / Rated PG-13/R / Street Date: June 4, 2013
There’s something to the original Mad Max that plays on Blu-ray pretty darned well. Gritty to a fault, and all but totally oozing with the sweaty aridness of its ever-present vast desert, this set of three films – Mad Max (1979), The Road Warrior (1981), and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – establishes its overall dramatic feel and sticks with it all the way through. Qualitative assessment aside, this trilogy offers up three verses to the same song.
Unsurprisingly, though, things here start strong then quickly peter out. The original Mad Max is a maniacal nightmare of a movie, a tale of a post-apocalyptic world that showcases our protagonist (played by some guy named Mel Gibson) and how his almost preternaturally gifted driving skills get him into all sorts of trouble on the bleak terrain of his dystopian plane. The Road Warrior brings us more of the same (only maybe a little limper overall), and then Thunderdome misses the mark almost entirely, focusing far more on Tina Turner’s outrageously enormous earrings than on any sense of overall plot direction or discernible action sequences.
Yet even though this new Blu-ray edition of the trilogy might not be a must-own in any major capacity, there’s a days-gone-by nostalgic heft in its hit-and-miss narrative that is somehow rampantly appealing. These were the days before Mel Gibson became ‘Mel Gibson’ – he’s so young here, he’s almost completely separated from the current mess he’s become – and between his zestful charisma and the dusty veneer of the movies’ set design and overall shape, it’s easy to fall victim to the films here. One can’t quite call them classics, but as far as bloody road flicks go, the Mad Max Trilogy certainly has a place in the pantheon.