The “Mad Max” Films – Worst to Best

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Banner-Charlize-Theron-Tom-Hardy

        It’s been a while since “Fury Road” appeared in theaters but I’ve been meaning to do my rating of the “Mad Max” Franchise from best to worst, so no time like the present to do so. Even at it’s lowest, this is a franchise that is fun. It brings madness to the apocalypse and the stories that Max witnesses are interesting, even if I don’t always like them. I’m grateful that George Miller brought this franchise back and I can’t wait to see what other films he makes in this insane universe. So without further ado, here are my ratings of the “Mad Max” films from worst to best, with summaries and a link to my full reviews.

Mad Max Poster

4th) Mad Max

   The first “Mad Max” film is excessive and feels incomplete. It starts out with a car chase that goes on way too long and the main villain Toecutter was never all that scary. I get that this started the Franchise but I truly hate this film. It feels like a concept idea that was done lazily, and as we witness later, George Miller was and is capable of so much better. There is no reason to watch this film in my opinion, unless you want a lesson on how not to make a film. Practical stunts aren’t enough to carry a film, be it action or otherwise. The action is stupid and our characters do nothing of consequence except dying in some cases, but we are given no reason to be invested in them, leading this to be one of the worst films I’ve watched.

Final Score: 3 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/mad-max-1979-stupid-action-with-no-interesting-characters/

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

3rd) Max Mad 3: Beyond Thunderdome

  “Beyond Thunderdome” is a film that has a lot of good ideas but due to the tone being all over the place isn’t one I can entirely recommend. My thoughts have changed in regards to Tina Turner’s Lady Entity and I like the idea of her character not wanting to kill Max, I just wish we had seen that more. This is a film that wants to be Stephen Spielberg (Wild Kids that Max needs to rescue, adventure music, etc.) but doesn’t really work due to the nature of how dark this universe is. The tone was what got me the most about this and I wish it had chosen to be consistently fun or consistently dark with double dealings and betrayal. Throwing both in made it a confused mess, even though it does still manage to be fun.

Final Score: 7 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/mad-max-beyond-thunderdome-1985-power-plays-and-safeguarding-the-future/

mad-max-2-poster-art-by-chris-weston

2nd) Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

    “The Road Warrior” is a great film. It has a fantastic villain in Lord Humungus who is the Ayotallah of Rock and Rolla and it really sets the tone for this post-apocalyptic world as a village with gas is being harrassed by Lord Humungus and Max is pulled into helping them, even though he doesn’t want too. It has some of the best action, a great villain and in the end captures the idea of Max being a symbol of stories from the Wasteland as the film is recounted by the Feral Child who later becomes the leader of the survivors and recounts how they betray Max after he helps them escape.

Final Score: 9 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/mad-max-2-the-road-warrior-1981-discovering-the-reason-to-fight-for-humanity/

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Poster-Posse-1-600x900

1st) Mad Max: Fury Road

  “Fury Road” might be my favorite film of 2015 and is easily one of my all time favorite films. This is a film that has a great villain in Immortan Joe and his cult of death, Max and the characters around him are seeking freedom and redemption as Theron’s Furiousa frees Joe’s birthing wives and attempts to get them to her home of old that is ruled by old Matriarchs. The cinematography and action are beautiful and it has a message that is powerful showing how rigid systems of patriarchy can be stopped and changed by those who are a part of it (Furiousa, the wives, Nux) challenging it. We also see a soldier get past his conditioning (Nux) and find meaning in life beyond violence and death as his arc really illustrates the power of this story. I can’t recommend this film enough.

Final Score: 10 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/mad-max-fury-road-2015-healing-redemption-and-actions-that-matter-in-a-world-gone-insane/

    This is a universe that is so much fun and within it you can find deep stories filled with action in stories like “Fury Road,” fun adventures in films like “Beyond Thunderdome” and great nihilistic action  and betrayal in films like “Road Warrior.” Within the wasteland there are countless stories to be told and still to be told and through the eyes Max we will no doubt see more come to the screen. I will be surprised if any future installments surpass “Fury Road” but they don’t have to. This is a Universe that George Miller loves, and as long as I keep seeing that love in his films, I will be there to witness those stories.

Advertisements

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985): Power Plays and Safeguarding the Future

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

      “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” was enjoyable but not great. I think a big reason for this is there isn’t a clear antagonist a lot of the time, way too many child actors which changes the tone and takes a lot of the dark out, which this film has. The Feral Children even don’t fully feel like Feral Children. They speak like they had an education, these are some of the things that took me out of it, even though Rossitti’s, Turner’s and Gibson’s performances are phenomenal and the story is enjoyable for what it is.

The film was directed, produced and written by George Miller and also directed by George Ogilvie and also written by Terry Hayes.

The story involves Max’s (Mel Gibson) arrival in Bartertown searching for his stolen supplies fifteen years after the defeat of Lord Humungus. From here he is pulled into the power struggle for control of the town between Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) and Master (Angelo Rossitto). He is asked to kill Master’s bodyguard Blaster (Paul Larsson) but after being asked to kill him in the ring and learning that Blaster is mentally handicapped he calls out Aunty Entity and is kicked out of Bartertown where he ends up with a tribe of Feral Kids looking for a Messiah and must stop their delusions and save Master and Blaster from Aunty Entity.

The Pros: The Premise – The idea of a power struggle in a post-apocalyptic town that an outsider is pulled into is a cool one. I also like that the antagonists aren’t wholly good or evil. They are each despots in their own way and both have a sympathetic aspect to them which helps drive the story.

The Power Struggle – I really liked the power struggle between Master and Aunty Entity. They are both compelling characters with Master being a small person who is best friends with a mentally handicapped man who is super strong who is his protector and helped him build the machines that provide energy to Bartertown, and there is Aunty Entity who controls the trade and is the law of the town and wrote the strange rules that govern the location and keep the populace sated in their blood lust. She wants Blaster taken out and Max almost fulfills it until he sees that Blaster was never evil nor Master wholly bad which leads to his exile as Aunty Entity takes over.

The Action – The action of course is fantastic! The most memorable action being the chase at the end where Aunt Entity’s forces are chasing Master, the Feral Children and Max who are on a train as they attempt to surround it and take it out and later when all except Max make it onto a plane and Max once again takes on the hoard giving the good characters time to escape and make a future.

The Characters – I liked the characters in “The Road Warrior” more, partially because they were just so much more compelling to see and there was more you could read into them. Here is is pretty concrete and depends too much on tropes, especially with the Feral Children not speaking like Children which took me out, besides the child actors, I did enjoy the characters.

The Collector – The Collector is the first we meet and he lets Max meet Aunty Entity after Max proves how dangerous he is. He is the one who measures and trades and is a slimy character. He is also connected to everyone in the town making him dangerous. We don’t truly see how dangerous though as Master and Aunty Entity take over once they are introduced. Frank Thring is great.

Blaster – Blaster is threatening and scary as long as you don’t see his face, but once his helmet is knocked off he is the most lovable character in the film and you see how deeply his friendship with Master runs as Master holds him when he is knocked out. He protects the kids too and has affection for Max for sparing his life. Paul Larsson is wonderful in this role.

Aunty Entity – Tina Turner owns this role and I wish she’d been given more to do than just lay down the law. She is in the final chase sequence but isn’t very smart as she unattaches the cart too early and Max rescues Master from her. She is honorable though and spares Max’s life as well as never actually killing him. She exiles him when he disobeys the laws of Thunderdome and she never kills Master as she wants to provide the energy so her people can live better. She is someone who was nothing before the apocalypse, but made the most of it to become the leader and ruler of Bartertown. She is the potential that exists in the new world, but also shows the ability of power to corrupt.

Master – Angelo Rossitto plays a character who is both bully and victim. We see him as a bully when he cuts the power before the attempt to kill Blaster by Max and later on we see him cradle Blaster and work with him in protecting the Feral children. He also salutes Max at the end for rescuing him. He is one of the brightest minds but he doesn’t do as much in his own escape as I would have liked. Gyro Captain used his machine a lot in the battle, while Master doesn’t use the Methane Factory much at all against Aunty Entity’s men.

Max – Mel Gibson is back and has “Braveheart” hair. When he arrives he is looking for the camels and supplies the Pilot stole from him but he is soon sidetracked when Aunty Entity hires him to take out Blaster. He succeeds but doesn’t kill Blaster and reveals her plan leading to his exile. From here he guides the kids out of their worship of the dead Boeing 747 pilot and through his fighting for them helps them bring about a better world, as Savannah the leader of the tribe mentions at the end. In this way his arc is similar to the arc “The Road Warrior” but with much less loss. Still great, but I hoped his character would change more. Maybe part of his point is his disconnect from others and sacrifice because he can’t live in any society? After watching more of the Franchise I’ll do an analysis of Max, might have to wait for the films after “Fury Road” though, no idea how that film and the future films will change him, if at all.

The Message – The message is safeguarding the future by dealing with the reality of people. The kids were the few good people left so Max risked everything to protect them, and with Master no longer being a bully they had a good person to guide them towards a new future. In this way he safeguards the future that the narrator and leader of the tribe expresses to us at the end. No matter how horrible the world may look, there are those worth saving who can make it better, and those people exist in each new generation.

Okay: The Ending – The action is great but their escape is too easy. The pilot who stole from Max has little to no reason to help them beyond survival and he changes from a selfish father to someone willing to risk everything for strangers. It struck me as too inconvienent and felt Spielbergian not like George Miller. Too whimsical and not enough crazy.

The Cons: The Feral Children – The Feral Children didn’t work. The idea of them worshipping a pilot who would return was cool and interesting but they didn’t talk like children. The Feral Child from “The Road Warrior” only barked, grunted and howled and it was only after he found civilization in the North that he could speak. This clashed with that, they felt fake and didn’t seem wild at all. The fact that none of them died also took me out, it just made Aunty Entity weak, especially after how the Humungus killed most of the cast from the last film.

The Pilot – He functions more as a plot device and is a different character from the Gyro Captain even though it is still Spence who played the Gyro Captain. He only exists so our heroes can make their escape. He is “The Eagles” of the Tolkienverse in this film and I wish they’d had a way to depend on their brains and working together to get out, especially since Master is supposed to be one of the most brilliant minds in this Universe.

The Tone – I really liked the dark tone that the movies have had, this one had moments of it but felt like a Spielberg film the moment we ran into the Feral Children Tribe as they were protected from all damage by virtue of them being kids and nothing bad happens to them. It took all the risk out of it and made it more of a family film, which clashed with the insanity, brothels and mortality of Bartertown.

This was a really fun film, though I have issues with how the Feral Children were handled and the tone though the power struggle and the main characters really carry the film for me. It is enjoyable and I would recommend this film, it was a lot of fun and though I don’t like it nearly as much as I liked “The Road Warrior” it is a fun different direction the series went in, even if I don’t like the direction (less death more child actors)…the world is still amazing. I am looking forward to “Fury Road.”

Final Score: 7 / 10