Directed By: George Oliver and George Oglivie
Written By: Terry Hayes and George Miller
Staring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence, Adam Cockburn, Frank Thring, Angela Rossitto, and Paul Larsson
“Right now, I’ve got two men, two men with a gut full of fear. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls… dyin’ times here!” -Dr. Dealgood
Watching this again after recently viewing Waterworld I feel firm in my convictions that Waterworld’s visual concept was directly influenced by Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. The character Max also referred to as The Road Warrior, returns for the third installment of the trilogy that is just as gritty and tough as the originals. As far as appearances go, the post apocalyptic world truly feels like a world barren and destroyed from mans destruction and ultimately our knack for violence. The deserted graveyard plays a back round for a world full of those trying to survive in a civilization that is savage and perilous.
Gibson returns as the hero existing solely in the dessert with a group of camels to carry his load, and a load to keep him alive. When his ride and camels are high jacked by a father/son crew on a plane, he is left in the dessert to meet his own demise. Following the tracks of his carriage he finds his way to a decadent oasis where there is a society that is implementing technology into their everyday life and though barbaric are thriving. It’s a tough crowd, but he makes his presence known and soon strikes a deal with the leader of Bartertown , Aunt Entity, to off a thorn in her side with the promise of the return of his belongings. Mad Max challenges Master Blaster in “The Thunderdome “, but the deal goes sour when Max falls subject to the semantics of their rule system, and he becomes exiled, and left to rot in the dessert once again. Only when he is discovered by a group of children who believes him to be their savior, a Captain Walker, he regains his strength and leads the children back to Bartertown to seek his revenge on Aunt Entity and those who wronged him.
Stylistically this is the most exciting of the Mad Max films. The vision of this post apocalyptic world is staggering. It is truly a step away from reality and feels like a world that is a skeleton of what it once was. Many films have explored the idea of man destroying themselves and some point having to start over again, but Beyond Thunderdome , for all it’s theatrical appearance and melodrama really captures the essence of a world gone wrong, and even though the world is trying to recover from what once was, the same barbaric and violent behavior that killed most of the human existence is still prevalent. Visually this is emoted and resonates just as strongly as the back story and characters who explain it through dialogue.
Max is still the disillusioned reluctant hero, inspired by his own set of morality and quick-fired temperament. He represents a man truly scorned by a cold world, that only has a small part of who he once was remaining. Truly wild and enamored by what he’s lost with a volatile temper but a secure sense of right and wrong, he is a formidable foe, that Mel Gibson truly makes come to life. There can’t be a film about a hardened hero without a little comedy to relieve the tension, and in the depths of the hopelessness and ominous allusions there are funny moments. When Max retrieves all his weapons to enter the city and continues to unload until there is a pile the size of a landfill it just becomes plain and simply funny without compromising Max’s serious tone.
Beyond The Thunderdome has a more epic action adventure quality than the other Max tales. There isn’t as much darkness, even though it is a constant pathos in the film it just isn’t the center of it’s existence. This tells a story, another moment in time in a hero’s life that just happened to be captured along with great action, inventive new fight scenes, invigorating battles, and something altogether new and different in the science fiction genre. Beyond Thunderdome isn’t just a fun movie to watch, it’s an important step in the world of science fiction.