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1985 sequel to Mad Max directed by George Miller;George Ogilvie

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The End of Max?

  • Sep 23, 2006
The original concept for MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME didn't even include Mad Max. The original idea was about a group of orphaned children living out in the wild alone and a man who finds them. Then someone came up with the idea of Max being their "savior" and the film soon became a "Mad Max" project.

In MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, Max is left alone to "die" in the desert. He makes his way through and comes to Bartertown, a city of last resort that has been able to maintain some of the technological capabilities of our former civilization. Bartertown might have been influenced by old Western bordertowns, but it reminded me of a poor-persons version of Mos Eisly from STAR WARS. Anyway, Max finds himself in the middle of a power struggle in the town and ends up fighting in a Coliseum like place called the Thunderdome, but people in Bartertown don't fight fair and after the fight Max is banished from the city into the desert. There he is found by a group of orphaned children who believe he is the pilot of their plane that crashed many years ago. Some of the children believe it is time to leave and return to their true home and they follow Max, but before they can return to their place of origin, they have to go through Bartertown.

MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME had the biggest budget of any Mad Max film. It re-united star Mel Gibson with director George Miller and a second director was hired so Miller could focus on the vehicle chases and action sequences. The film also has Tina Turner playing the villain, Aunty Entity. With all that going for it the film should have been something extraordinary.

Instead MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME ended up being the least thrilling of the Mad Max films. There's more action in the film than in the previous films in the series and Aunty Entity is a nemesis with more character than ones we've seen Max face before. And of course there's an awesome chase sequence at the end of the film.

The major problem with MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME is that there is too much going on in the film. ROAD WARRIOR had a very strict plot and even MAD MAX with all the back-story and character build-up had a fairly simple plot, but BEYOND THUNDERDOME is filled with all sorts of convolutions. The movie opens promising enough with a little bit of humor (the opening scene reminds me of an INDIANA JONES humorous moment), but when the action moves to Bartertown things get complicated. First there's the whole idea of how Bartertown is operated. Then there's the power struggle that we have to be acquainted with. There's also the concept of the Thunderdome and the purpose it serves and why it exists. Along the way we also discover that there's a entire class system to Bartertown: the lower classes and untouchables are forced to work in the sties of pig poop that power the city and they are on the verge of revolting. Had the action been confined to Bartertown, things wouldn't have been too bad. But just as one thinks the movie is ending and entire new element is added: the orphaned children living in the wild who think Max is Captain Walker come back from the land beyond to save them. Of course, after the kids are introduced you just know that they are going to end up fighting the evil overlords of Bartertown and they do. The lost kids really screwed with the movie big time. In MAD MAX the bad guys ran over children for pleasure. In BEYOND THUNDERDOME we sense that these baddies are bad, but not bad enough to actually kill the kids. They just want to enslave them or raise them up as heirs. So, instead of enriching the movie, the second act ends up twisting it; think of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and how all those stolen children screwed up that film. Of course, there's also the problem of Tina Turner. She's about as convincing as an evil powerful warlord as Paris Hilton is as a spokesperson for being celibate.

Still, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME does have its moments. George Miller knows how to film chase scenes and the final chase that makes up the last act of the movie is an extraordinary bit of filmmaking involving a flying machine, a train, and lots and lots and lots of other cars and motorized vehicles. Of course, there's also Mel Gibson as Max. ROAD WARRIOR was a superior movie, but the Max in BEYOND THUNDERDOME is the most likeable; he has all the wisdom and experience from the first two films, but regains the compassion and joy he had during most of the first movie. Maybe Max isn't so mad anymore.

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More Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome reviews
review by . August 17, 2009
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was a tame action film. Even though it takes place in an even bleaker future, the filmmakers decided to line their pockets by making this one "family friendly (i.e. P.G.-13). What made the other films gritty and nihilistic is missing from this film. Only a few spots but other than that it's just other one of those sequels that morphed into a more mainstream movie (i.e Robocop 3). Needless to say I was very disappointed because when I was much younger I was a huge …
review by . November 05, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Gibson & Turner     Cons: none     The Bottom Line: the end of the Mad Max series           The Oracle says: Angelo Rossitto has a Bacon number of 2.    Angelo Rossitto was in Dark, The (1979) with William Devane    William Devane was in Hollow Man (2000) with Kevin Bacon ***            The third and final release of the saga hit both good and bad reviews. …
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About this movie


The follow up to Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior).

Final film of the Mad Max trilogy.

The film's theme song performed by Tina Tuner charted at #2 in the US and #3 in the UK.

The only PG rated film of the series.

AlthoughMad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the third part of George Miller's post-apocalypticMad Maxtrilogy, is certainly the least of the bunch (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrioris the undisputed masterpiece, and maybe the best action movie ever made), it has still got a good share of imaginative industrial-wasteland-pastiche imagery. And casting Tina Turner as Aunty Entity, the queen of Bartertown, was a masterstroke. Mel Gibson's character Max is pitted in a battle to the death against the bizarre Master Blaster in the Thunderdome, flying around on rubbery straps inside a sort of gigantic overturned colander with bloodthirsty spectators clinging to the outside. Miller's producing partner, Byron Kennedy, was killed in a helicopter crash while scouting locations for this film. Miller was devastated, only agreeing to direct the action sequences--and, somehow, you feel his heart wasn't entirely in it.--Jim Emerson
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Director: George Miller
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: July 10, 1985
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: July 30, 1997
Runtime: 107 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
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