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MatchFlick Member Reviews
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
George Miller, George Ogilvie

Written By:
Terry Hayes, George Miller

Cast:
Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Frank Thring Jr., Bruce Spence, Robert Grubb, Angelo Rossitto, George Spartels, Helen Buday, Angry Anderson, Rod Zuanic

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Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
May 11th, 2010

A fitting end to the series, 'Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome' finds the title character stumbling upon Bartertown, a mostly lawless community where everything, and everyone, can be bought and sold. Max (Mel Gibson), still a loner, looking only to recover his stolen vehicle, gets caught up in a power struggle between self-proclaimed ruler Auntie Entity (Tina Turner), and her main rival, a dwarf named Master, who rides around on the shoulders of a hulking man in an iron helmet known as Blaster, who provides some much-needed muscle and is feared by Bartertown residents. Auntie wants Max to fight Blaster in an arena called the Thunderdome, with the prize being her undisputed reign, and Master's acknowledgement of her authority.

The battle between them is exciting, creative, and incredibly well-sustained; suspended on bungee-like cables, they bounce around and use whatever weapons they can find in a duel to the death. Two men enter; one man leaves, as the spectators remind them through incessant chanting. Max triumphs, but is hesitant to kill his opponent; Entity makes an example of him by exiling him into the desert. There, he is rescued by Savannah Nix (Helen Buday), the "leader" of a tribe of children who live in the jungle.

The tribe is more like a cult, that worships a figure they have named Captain Walker, apparently once the pilot of the large jet that now lies partially buried in the sand. They believe Walker will return and transport them to the place they see in old, pre-apocalyptic pictures; cities with glittering skyscrapers and enormous bridges. Max has to explain to them that such places no longer exist, and Savannah takes followers with her on a journey into the wasteland, compelling Max to ultimately pursue and protect her, and the others, from the dangers they encounter.

The big climactic action sequence is, once again, a chase across the desert, which seems to be a rehash of the central set-piece from The Road Warrior. The special effects are generally better, and flashier, but director George Miller worked with a bigger budget, a result of American financing, which may explain the involvement of Turner, who, I must say, is an inspired casting choice. This was Turner's only major screen performance, and it is a memorable one, with lots of attitude. Entity is a villain, I suppose, and she has to be ruthless to keep Bartertown under control, but she is not one-dimensional, and genuinely cares about the people who rely on her to govern them. They trust her, and she does not betray that trust.

Gibson, with long hair for the first half of the film, looks like William Wallace, and Braveheart was still a decade away. Everything gets a little weirder in the second half, which is weaker and less interesting than preceding portions, largely because of the rather boring mythology that forms the basis of Savannah's society, and the quirky dialect she uses, utilizing words such as "finded, instead of found. I found this to be a tiresome affectation, and then, afterwards, also like in Road Warrior, we get the gratitude expressed by Savannah and her comrades for Max's help, allowing them to survive, and possibly flourish, taking up the task of repopulating the world. We learn nothing new about Max, and he continues to wander aimlessly.

It ends on an optimistic note, at least with more optimism than its predecessors, as it likely should. From a spiritual perspective, Max reclaims his humanity, after spending so much time as a soulless creature consumed by anger and a desire for revenge. Dean Semler again evokes, very powerfully, the utter desolation of the landscape, with handsome and mesmerizing shots of the horizon and the arid expanses of the Australian outback. Music by Maurice Jarre is a tad overbearing and intrusive. Still great entertainment.

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