Mad Max and the gay pride parade

I’m somewhat ashamed that I had never seen the Mad Max movies before. To be fair, I had caught a few snippets of the third film, Beyond Thunderdome, but the prospect of staring at the wild mane of Tina Turner for two hours never appealed to me. So last night, I sat down to watch the first two movies of the series back-to-back for the first time. At 34 years old I was ready to have my mind blown.
The first movie starts with a bang. Car chase, massive mayhem on the roads of Australia. The police cars are yellow but I think nothing of it, it’s not like I’m an expert on the law enforcement culture of the land down under. Besides, I’m expecting a post-apocalyptic story. Except what we see of civilization doesn’t seem so abnormal.
The energy level is high, property is destroyed. Cars are cut in half and toddlers are almost run over. Good times.
The guy the cops are chasing is called the Nightrider and he’s a blabbermouth from the farthest depths of Hell. This is the kind of shroom-induced stuff he shouts into his CB radio: “The Toecutter – he knows who I am. I am the Nightrider! I am the chosen one. The mighty hand of vengeance, sent down to strike the unroadworthy! I’m hotter than a rollin’ dice. Step right up, germ, and watch the kid lay down the rubber road, ride to freedom!” But then it gets weird.
Real fucking weird.
Mel Gibson shows up, drives by our villain, and the dude starts bawling like a baby for no reason. A minute later, he crashes and dies. For the next hour, the movie grinds to a complete and utter halt. We spend time with the motorcycle-riding gang of misfits who want revenge for the Nightrider’s death. The problem is that they’re like rejects from A Clockwork Orange. They’re not crazy, they’re CA-RRRRRAZYYY for the sake of being CA-RRRRRAZYYY. The movie picks up in the last 15 minutes when a slightly sober and revengeful Mel kills them one by one.
Verdict: underwhelmed.

And then I started watching Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Even though the same creative forces did the two movies, the presence of a superior budget is immediately noticeable. Low budget doesn’t have to mean bad film, on the contrary, but here you can discern the improvement. The music is more polished, the cinematography much improved.
The gist of the story is this: A few years after the events of the first movie, society has completely crumbled after the world’s oil has run dry. Max must help a commune of blond people escape their compound which is under siege from raping/murdering bad guys.
It’s much better paced, the action is exciting for much of the running length, the characters are interesting for the most part, and there’s even a dog and a cute kid.
But they had to go with the weirdness again. Why oh why did they have to make the villains wear that awful S & M gear? Sure, it’s 1981 and the massive success of the Al Pacino movie Cruising must have been a great influence. Right. We’ve got leather chaps (of the I-see-your-butt variety), chokers, studs, human muzzles, and we’re even confronted with henchmen held on leashes. I couldn’t help thinking about Pulp Fiction, except Mel didn’t really go medieval on their asses.
Verdict: very much whelmed, except for the weirdness-for-weirdness’ sake.


2 Responses

  1. Ha! I’ve watched both movies, or so I think. At least I watched the first one. Loved it. It’s something I call a classic, a must see. Then it’s a matter of you either hate it or love it Rambo, Rocky and Terminator. I’ll freely admit, I watched them all and I loved them all.

  2. It’s funny you say that, I’ve watched the first two Rambo movies this week as well (I still say the first one is the best). Going to re-watch the third tonight.

    I usually like this kind of movies, and I enjoyed the second Mad Max a lot. I just thought the first one was a little boring aside from the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes.

    I heard they were gonna make a fourth Mad Max next year. I wonder if they’ll go ahead since Mel Gibson has continued his crazy streak…

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