film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 1985 * * 1/2 Stars


Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is about as visionary a film as you can get. I mean it may not make it to the revisited big screen but there it is, a third installment in the Mad Max franchise that revels in dusty landscapes and mucky, grubby caricatures, all bent on fulfilling their arid, dystopian requisites. "Thunderdome's" story, well it's a murky one, something about a place called "Bartertown", where Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson of course) has to show off his "mad" fighting skills in order to impress "Bartertown's" ruler (Aunty Entity played by Tina Turner) to get supplies for his future endeavors. "Two men enter, one man leaves". Yeah you go Tina!

So OK, where would I rank Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in the Mad Max canon? Probably in the middle I guess. Just like in the most recent Mad Max flick (Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga), director George Miller decides to venture into the world of storytelling. Um, that's not his strong suit mind you. Miller is the master of stunt work, the guy who can create "birds in flight" action sequences with almost no CGI. With "Thunderdome", he provides this action but probably needed a better editor, someone to sift out the droppings of the slogging second act, where Max is befriended by a bunch of grubby kids inhabiting an oasis called "Planet Erf" (what?). This second act, well it zaps Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome's momentum, preventing it from having any real, suspenseful heft by the time the final chase commences (and you know there's gonna be a final chase). "I can feel it, the dice are rolling". Are you sure about that bro? Are you?

All in all, "Thunderdome" is not a total loss. I mean see it for Tina Turner's molten screen presence and her hit ditty during the closing credits. See it for the always reliable Gibson, who despite being less "mad" this time around, fits the antihero role like a pair of worn out slippers. Finally, see it for George Miller's inspiration, all funked up for the punk crowd literally strung out, and on the outs. Like 1979's Alien is to Star Wars, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is to well, Star Wars. Just take out everything pristine and unspoiled in this sci-fi sphere. "Beyond" control.  

Written by Jesse Burleson

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