Friday, May 22, 2015

When Max Got Mad!

Like many folks I'd imagine, I saw the sequel The Road Warrior before I ever got the chance (or had the inclination or even knew about it to have the inclination) to see the George Miller original Mad Max. So to some extent the intensity of the original was undone (at least initially) by my knowledge of what came after.

But just a while back I got to see Mad Max again, after many many years and with the original Mel Gibson-voiced soundtrack (the other is totally offbeat) and I have to say it holds up remarkably well and I'll even go so far as to say better than its more famous successor. What is missing from The Road Warrior is an emotional story that has sufficient bite to hold the audience, despite several attempts to superficially tug at the heartstrings. Mad Max is loaded with that and more.

The world of The Road Warrior is so alien and so depraved that identifying with the survivors can be difficult. Not so with the immediately recognizable folks who populate Mad Max. The story of Max's family is a tragic one indeed, but the story builds to its somewhat inevitable conclusion with remarkable steadiness and with a patience which is oddly missing from the more spectacular sequel. Mad Max has real tension and even a few actual surprises. The Road Warrior is a bombastic adventure with lots of spills and even a few chills, but little suspense.

So there you go, a change of heart. Mad Max is for me at least (as of this writing) my favorite of the three Mad Max movies so far. (The bloated and wildly over-the-top Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was never in the running by the way.)

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