Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Mad Max (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5.5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: R

Starring:
Mel Gibson as Mad Max Rockatansky
Joanne Samuel as Jessie
Hugh Keays-Byrne as Toecutter
Steve Bisley as Jim Goose
Tim Burns as Johnny the Boy
Roger Ward as Fifi
Lisa Aldenhoven as Nurse
David Bracks as Mudguts
Bertrand Cadart as Clunk
David Cameron as Underground Mechanic
Robina Chaffey as Singer
Stephen Clark as Sarse
Mathew Constantine as Toddler
Jerry Day as Ziggy
Reg Evans as Station Master

Directed by George Miller

Special Features:
Disc 1: Blu-ray
Audio Commentary with Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Christ Murray & Tim Ridge
Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon Featurette

Disc 2: DVD
"Mel Gibson: the Birth of a Superstar" Documentary
"Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon" Documentary
Theatrical Trailers
Audio Commentary with Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Christ Murray & Tim Ridge
"Road Rants" Trivia & Fun Fact Track
Photo Gallery
TV Spots

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
DTS-HD MA 5.1 Sound
Spanish and French Subtitles
Australian English Language (yes, seriously)
Running Time: 93 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"In the ravaged near-future, a savage motorcycle gang rules the road. Terrorizing innocent civilians while tearing up the streets, the ruthless gang laughs in the face of a police force hell-bent on stopping them. But they underestimate one officer: Max Rockatansky (Gibson). And when the bikers brutalize Max's best friend and family, they send him into a mad frenzy that leaves him with only one thing left in the world to live for - revenge!"

"Mad Max" is rated R.

Mini-Review:
I had seen "Mad Max 2: Road Warrior" and "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" many times over the years, but for whatever reason I never saw the original "Mad Max." I was quite happy for the chance to check it out on Blu-ray.

Several things surprised me about "Mad Max." The first was the fact that it was a pre-apocalypse or mid-apocalypse environment rather than the post-apocalyptic environment of the sequels. We see an organized police force that Max is a part of. We see modern hospitals. We see courts, restaurants, beach resorts, etc. Society may be collapsing, but it isn't the desert wasteland we see later on. I have to say, though, that the post-apocalyptic world is a lot more fun.

The second thing that surprised me was the fact that for a movie titled "Mad Max," we only really see him go mad in the last 20 minutes or so of running time. That means the rest of the 93 minute running time is build-up to that. We actually see more of Max living happily with his wife and child than we do of him seeking revenge on the road. So while this first film is a disappointment, I think they learned their lessons in the sequels. The story also doesn't make a lot of sense in places. It's hard to figure out the rules of the world and it frequently shifts locations and lost me as the viewer.

"Mad Max" still has the early stages of what we love it for later on. It has insane gangs that act extremely crazy, stick their tongues out a lot, dance around, and generally garner no sympathy when they're killed off by Max. It also has high-speed car chases that are tense and over-the-top. They feature muscle cars and motorcycles and plenty of mayhem. I've actually met writer/director George Miller when he was working on "Happy Feet" and I was shocked to realize that such a soft-spoken, kind-hearted fellow could have been capable of creating such violence and insanity in films. Seeing "Mad Max" is like seeing an early take on what is later considered a classic film. It's somewhat recognizable but not quite there yet.

The only recognizable face in the cast is Mel Gibson and he's quite young. I was surprised that he wasn't even on the screen for a significant portion of the film. Yet when he is on the screen, he's memorable. It's no wonder he later became a star. Going crazy (on and off the screen) is his trademark now and even as far back as "Mad Max" you could see he was good at it. When he finally kills the last of the gang members, it's an incredibly intense moment.

I'd recommend this "Mad Max" Blu-ray to Mad Max fans, Mel Gibson's fanbase, and anyone curious about how all the hype started.

The Blu-ray has a ton of bonus features. On the Blu-ray is a commentary, but it is disappointing because it lacks Mel Gibson and George Miller. Also included is the featurette "Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon." It covers the making of the movie, the stunts, the casting, and other goodies. Again it lacks Mel Gibson but it includes other cast, other crew, and Road Warrior devotees. Over on the DVD included in the set is another featurette entitled "Mel Gibson: The Birth of a Superstar." It's kind of ironic to see this considering his rather disgraceful fall from the spotlight. Also included are a trivia and fun facts track, a photo gallery, and TV spots.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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