I usually try not to give away too much in my reviews, but this one contains a lot of spoilers.
To begin, this movie is stellar
. At times comedy, action, sci-fi
, or epic-adventure - Beyond Thunderdome
really only fails to please if you want to fit it into just one of those categories. If you are looking for just a straight action flick, or pure sci-fi, then this is not the movie for you. Mel Gibson reprises his role as the road-warrior (though arguably it is sometimes hard to tell if this is indeed the same man from the previous movies) and Tina Turner plays his nemesis, the rockin'-amazonian Aunty Entity
. She does a damn good job because c'mon, it's Tina Turner! I was impressed. The movie can be broken down loosely around its different settings.
P O S T - A P O C A L Y P S E
This might not be the first movie to do a story set in a world ravaged by nuclear-war, but it's definitely an early one and does a good job of showing not only the physical state of the world but also the twisted nature of humanity. The entire movie takes place in Australia, in a world where water is only less valuable than gasoline, or any source of energy for that matter. Gangs and barbarians are the players, and theft and looting is the game. The lone road-warrior just wants to be left alone, but that wouldn't make for a very good movie. Mad Max is immediately attacked as the movie opens by a plane of all things. It's a hell of a pilot that can knock someone out with a flyby. Of course, Jedediah the pilot does have help from his flyboy son. Max only gains consciousness to see his one man caravan heading toward the horizon. He is left with nothing, and hoofs it to the closest semblance of civilization.
B A R T E R T O W N
As the name implies, all manner of trade can be had here, from supplies to services, which will become very important to Max's fate. Compared to the outside badlands of roving gangs, Barter Town isn't too shabby, having a renewable energy supply and a political structure with a set of codified laws.
The power structure of Barter Town consists of an uneasy alliance between Aunty Entity - who controls the military and legal aspects of the town - and Master-Blaster - the technical mastermind that keeps the town running. He utilizes a process that harvests methane from pigshit: viola! completely renewable energy source. Lately Entity is looking to expand her powerbase, and this is the situation that Max wanders into. When some of the locals try to harrass him, Max is forced to use his oft-practiced self-defense skills, and thus gains the attention of Aunty Entity. Like the Godfather, she gives him an offer that he can't refuse.
T H U N D E R D O M E
"But we've learned; by the dust of 'em all, Bartertown's learned. Now when men get to fighting, it happens here and it finishes here.
Two men enter. One man leaves."
Though the dome is short on rules, it's big on weapons, which adorn the inside of a half-dome that resembles those interlocked triangle ones we used to play on as kids. Except you fight to the death in this one. It's one thing to watch this in a movie, but it gets your blood racing to watch it in person. 'Where the hell is a real one of these things!?' you ask? Burning Man just happens to have a whole group of crazies devoted to living out this movie, complete with eye-wrenching cars and a fullscale Thunderdome where contestants battle it out, thankfully just to acquiescence.
Max's deal is to pick a fight with and then kill Blaster in the ring. Now would probably be a good time to inform you that the entity known as Master-Blaster is really two people: a hulking-giant manchild, and a dwarf with a deviously sharp intellect. With Blaster out of the way, Entity can simply imprison Master and have him do her bidding. When Max finds out, however, that Blaster really does have the mind of a five-year-old, he can't bring himself to finish him off.
Spin the wheel, raggedy man!!
So Max has some compassion, but a fat lot of good it'll do him. Entity finishes off Blaster, imprisons Master, and then gives Max his punishment for breaking his end of the bargain, which is to spin the wheel of assorted ordeals. Do you ever wonder why he's called Mad Max? Because basically he has to deal with all kinds of stupid shit such as the following: Tied up hand&foot sitting backwards on an ass with an oversized cartoonish head placed over his - Max is sent into the desert, supposedly to his death.
T H E O A S I S
Dead he surely would have been if he hadn't been discovered by a band of children, the remnants of a flight that had tried to escape the nuclear holocaust only to crash land near a place that resembles an aboriginal never-never land. Think Lord of the Flies. Max has to quickly disabuse them of the idea that he is their messiah, but not before we are given an account of the apocalypse and the world before it. To the children it is all a part of their waking dream, and is an engaging journey into primal subconscious. The children, in fact, are meant to resemble the Aboriginal tribes in many aspects.
When some of the children set out across the desert after Max attempts to bring a little reality to their existence, he of course has to go back towards the only civilization around in order to save them.
T A K E T O T H E S K I E S
What follows is what the movie is most famous for after Thunderdome. Max's compassion gets the best of him again, and while rounding up the kids, he adds Master and a local slave to his gang of escapees. When the crew heads out of Barter Town on a car/train via an old system of tracks, they have Aunty Entity and half the population of Barter Town on their asses. A huge fight and chase scene ensues, and the gang is able to escape temporarily into some underground tunnels that turn out to be the home of none other than Jedediah the Pilot.
Thankfully Max isn't mad enough to kill him on the spot, instead exacting his revenge by making use of the plane. With Aunty Entity fast closing in, everyone is on board the plane; a cliff at their backs and an assaulting charge of mechanical calvalry bearing down on them. And there's not enough room to get clearance over them. What else is the anti-hero to do but hop in a car and lead the plane into the fray in the most unbalanced game of chicken ever attempted. The plane barely gets clearance over the marauders at the sacrifice of Max himself, who pulls himself from the wreckage only to look up at the smiling visage of Entity, who thankfully leaves him with a token of grudging respect.
Well, ain't we a pair, Raggedy Man.(Laughs)
C O N C L U S I O N
The two societies in the movie both exist as broken remnants of the past that have nothing to offer the future. Barter Town exists attempting to survive off of the dregs of materialism through which the past had functioned. The life that they do have can barely be considered human, and it offers nothing on which to build. The children, on the other hand, have the memory of the past and a peaceful society based on fair rules and the benefit of the group. However, they live in a dream. They are uneqipped to deal with the reality that the world has become, yet they hold the single most important tool for the future of all mankind: hope. The end of the movie sees Max able to unite the hope and peace of the children with the knowledge of Master, and though we do not follow them, the audience is left with a strong sense of hope that this group just may have a chance, and just may be the seed for the future civilization.
Produced by George Miller
Directed by George Miller & George Ogilvie
Writing credits - Terry Hayes
& George Miller
Original Music - Maurice Jarre
C A S T
- 'Mad' Max Rockatansky
- Aunty Entity
- Jedediah the Pilot
- Jedediah Jr.
- The Collector
- The Master
- The Blaster
- Pig Killer
- Dr. Dealgood
- Ton Ton Tattoo
- Aunty's Guard
- Aunty's Guard
Running Time: 107 min
); Rated R