The three films – Mad Max (1979), Mad Max Road Warrior (1982) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – are all set in the near-future in Australia. From the very first film, Oscar® winner George Miller (Happy Feet, 2006) proved a master at creating the gritty, bleak dystopian world and staging the incredible car stunts and crashes in the era when stuntmen, not computers, achieved the effects. All three movies starred Mel Gibson, virtually unknown until after the second film, as Max Rockatansky, a highway cop traveling through the Outback in a society descending into chaos.
Audio commentary by Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray and Tim Ridge
Mad Max: The film phenomenon 25 minute documentary
Theatrical trailers 1 & 2
Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior
Introduction by Leonard Maltin
Audio commentary by George Miller & Dean Semier
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
To be entirely honest, I can’t think of a reason for you NOT to pick this collection up. While the first two films, Mad Max and road Warrior, have already seen blu-ray releases, Beyond Thunderdome hasn’t, so it’s a great opportunity to pick up all three of them in one shot. If you’ve never watched a Mad Max film (really?!), there’s plenty to enjoy in the post-apocalyptic adventures.
Even after all this time, Road Warrior remains my favorite out of the bunch. The first film is a great social commentary and introduces some interesting ideas, and Road Warrior just seems to take all of that to the next level. Thunderdome…not so much. It’s easily the weakest film in the trilogy but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s terrible either; it’s simply weaker than its incredible predecessors.
I’ve seen these films a lot, and I’m always impressed at how timeless they feel. Despite their age, they’ve held up well and the unique setting still makes it feel as though this could be a futuristic film, rather than being totally dated (as other films like this often become). While Mel Gibson has turned in many great (and some not so great performances) over the years, these films, which introduced him to the US, still rank among some of my favorites of his.
If nothing else, the films alone are enough to warrant the purchase of this set, as they absolutely belong in just about every film collection.
Not every older film makes the transition to the high definition spectrum very well. Mostly this is a result of not enough attention being paid to the job. Fortunately this isn’t the case with the Mad Max collection and all of the blu-ray transfers look sharp. The blacks are sufficiently deep, making the colors pop and stand out brightly. Artifacts (little bumps and scratches on the frames) are kept to a minimum, but you’ll notice a couple of them in the first two films, while the third is damn near spotless.
The sound quality is similarly excellent, though Beyond Thunderdome is slightly better. This is because it’s the newest one, while the first two are carry-overs from the previous blu-ray releases. Whether you’ve got surround sound or just your TV speakers, you won’t be missing out on anything.
All in all it appears as though they did their utmost to present these films in the best light possible and they succeeded. They’re still older films, so don’t expect them to be clean and sharp, like modern films. There’s still film grain present, but honestly, that feels more a part of the overall aesthetic rather than anything detracting.
The Bonus Features
To be frank, the bonus features that come packed with the set are kind of skimpy. There’s some commentary tracks, along with original theatrical trailers, and one documentary…and that’s about it. While the documentary is a good one, it’s hard to not think of the offerings as light.
Couple this with the fact that there’s no extras (pictures, literature, etc) included in the box set, and it feels like something of a missed opportunity for the set. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still glad for it, but this could have been a definitive set that all fans have to purchase (regardless of whether they own the first two already), and instead it feels like a simple bundle.
While the set itself feels like on the bonuses and extras, the Mad Max collection is still well worth the purchase. These are classic films and have received the care and love they deserved in the transfer process.
The Mad Max Trilogy Collection (available now on blu-ray) gets an 8 out of 10.