Mad Max, Blu-ray + DVD (1980/2010)

by | Oct 12, 2010 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Mad Max, Blu-ray + DVD (1980/2010)

Starring Mel Gibson
Directed by George Miller
Studio: Fox/MGM M122835 [10/5/10]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enchanced for16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: Australian English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack or original mono version, Dubbed American English mono track, Spanish mono, French stereo (DD mono on DVD)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Blu-ray = Commentary by Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray & Tim Ridge; “Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon” featurette; DVD = Same Mad Max featurette; “Mel Gibson: The Birth of a Superstar” documentary; 2 original theatrical trailers; Same commentary track, “Road Rants” trivia & fun fact track; Photo gallery; TV spots; Full screen or widescreen options on double-sided DVD.
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: *****

“Porn for guys who dig fast cars” is what one critic has called this riveting classic which brought to fame actor Gibson as just a character who was called mad vs. the actor he has recently become. It’s amazing what an effective violent action film the Aussie filmmakers created on their very limited budget. It stands up well to Blu-ray restoration, with only a few scenes looking a bit grainy and underexposed, plus some of the color damage of the original not having been corrected. (If Criterion had done this one, it would have been.) Also, the original Australian soundtrack turns out to be quite understandable – especially if you’re wearing headphones. There are subtitles available if you need them. The original U.S. release had the American dubbed soundtrack because the distributors thought audience here wouldn’t be able to understand the Aussies. Even the various symphonic cues on the soundtrack, which must have been inexpensive already-cleared generic music, fit the film very well.

Although the actors are all excellent, and Gibson gets to show quite range of emotion, the real stars of Mad Max are the cars. I was surprised to learn the interceptors of the police were just used Ford Falcons, doctored up to look a bit more like muscle cars. The endless asphalt roadway is also an actor in the film.  One of the filmmakers observes in the extras that the drivers and stunt people took some amazing chances in shooting many of the furious chase scenes and crashes. The bad guys are all on various motorbikes which were donated by one of the Japanese manufacturers. The actors all had their bikes for some months before filming began so they could get familiar with them and ride them properly.

The apocolyptic future portrayed in Mad Max is like the one in Delicatessen and some other distopic future films, in that civilization doesn’t seem completely destroyed. There are grocery stores, car repair garages, and the seemingly undamaged skyline of Melbourne appears briefly in one shot. The filmmakers are to be commended for their good taste in not showing everything in this otherwise violent film. For example, when the bad motorcyclists run down Gibson’s wife and child, only a child’s ball is shown rolling into the frame on the highway, and when Gibson reaches them it is only in a super-long shot. The Film Phenomenon featurette is very watchable.  Fans of the film will love it if they haven’t seen it before in earlier reincarnations.  For example, the costume person reveals that their budget only allowed having an all-leather outfit for Gibson – all the other police had to wear black vinyl.

 — John Sunier

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