Five years after Mad Max first burst onto the scene, and almost four years after the release of its follow-up, the superior, and iconic, Road Warrior, Max (Mel Gibson) returned for the third film in the original trilogy of Mad Max films, and my most recent stop in the Sci-Fi Chronicles book.
With two wicked songs by Tina Turner, We Don’t Need Another Hero, and One of the Living (both of which gets regular playtime on my iphone) this instalment in the series is a bit of a stumble.
The first part, featuring Aunty Entity (Turner) and Bartertown are excellent, and expand nicely on the world building that Road Warrior continued with, but then after his banishment from the town, Max wanders the wastelands and finds himself the saviour of a group of children who have a serious cargo cult thing gong on.
There are some solid sequences in the film, the Thunderdome and the chase at the end of the film are wonderfully Miller, but some of the story feels disjointed, and that may be due to the fact that Ogilvie directed a lot of the story, with Miller doing the action sequences as he was dealing with the loss of his friend Byron Kennedy.
With Turner, Ogilvie and Warner’s heavy involvement, there is more of a Hollywood sheen of melodrama added to the film (and consequently lacks the edgy indie feel of the first film, or even the violent streak of the second), though the world continues to be interesting it doesn’t have the same darkness as the previous films.
In fact, Max himself is a but of a lighter character, as some moments are played for laughs. He’s not the same as he was at the end of the first film, or the second film (though in that one, he begins to see the benefit of helping others).
Despite all that, it will hold a place of nostalgia and joy for me, because I saw it at such a formative time in my life. I watched Road Warrior countless times. People I would babysit for had it on Beta, and every time I was there, I would watch it, once again. Thunderdome I only came across a few times growing up, so it doesn’t have the same pow.
Of course, considering the film that preceded it, and succeeded it, it’s easy to see why this one tends to be forgotten.
Despite it’s disjointed storytelling, honestly, it feels like a completely separate film once the children show up, there is still a sense of fun to it, and that chase at the end is solid, auto-action.
If I’m forced to choose, however, I’ll stick with Road Warrior and Fury Road.