Thursday, December 6

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Review

I watched on: Blu-Ray
The price I paid: £19.99 (Mad Max Anthology)
Notes: This is the only Mad Max film I’d not seen before rewatching them.

Beyond Thunderdome was the last film to feature Mel Gibson as Max. After this came out in 1985 it would be another 30 years until we saw the series return.

Since the events of the Road Warrior, there has been a nuclear war leaving the world covered in radioactive fallout. Life was never easy in the wasteland after the fall of civilization but now every minute is a desperate struggle. Finding non-radioactive food and water is almost impossible forcing people to places like Barter town. Run by the beautiful and deadly Aunty, this town relies on methane gas for power that they harvest from pig faeces. After Max gets on the wrong side of Aunty he is tied up and sent out into the barren wasteland on horseback to die. He is only just rescued by a tribe of children known as both the Waiting Ones and the Lost Tribe. These kids live in an oasis hidden in the desert. Of course, things go wrong and a splinter group of the tribe goes to try and find more people. It’s up to Max to venture back into Barter town in order to save them.

This may be the silliest Mad Max but that makes sense seeing as this is a story told by a tribe of children to their youngest. Each film reflects the views, opinions and biases of the ones telling it. These differences help give detail to the world of Mad Max. As with real life, the truth is often found between the lies. Each story told in this series is only one perspective but by seeing the differences between them we can see the full picture. The Road Warrior is told by the Feral kid to the Great Northan Tribe and as such paints them as blameless. In a similar fashion Beyond Thunderdome is the least violent and most childish because it’s a story told to the children of the Lost Tribe.

What makes Thunderdome great to me is the Waiting Ones. The way these kids are left with almost nothing. They have very little knowledge of the world before the apocalypse but they have built up this wonderful mythology of what was. This is relayed to newer generations through the ‘telling’ which is a story told via cave paintings. It explains that the world ended with the 'Pox-eclipse’. Then the heroic Captain Walker took a plane to try and escape the riots and violence of the cities with a group of children. This plane crashes and the adults venture out into the wasteland to try and find help leaving only the teenagers and children. From this, the Lost Tribe is formed. I love seeing this new faith, these new beliefs and a whole new civilization born from the remains of the old world.

It’s also through this Lost Tribe of children that we’re able to see Max’s soft and caring nature. During a few scenes, we see Max’s hardened survival instincts fighting with this compassionate side of his personality. One example is after he has bested Blaster in the Thunderdome and refuses to kill him. Another would be the scene when Max learns that the splinter group of the Lost Tribe has left trying to find 'Tomorrow-morrow Land’. Max has to make the choice to either stay at the Oasis where it’s safe or head back into the Wasteland to save the children. With no words we see Max walk away and then turn back clearly frustrated but ultimately knowing he has to save them. This is the same compassion we saw Max share with his friend Goose as well as his wife and son in the first film. Then with the Feral kid during the Road Warrior. I love that underneath all the tough guy armour Max is just a big old softy.

Having not seen this film before picking up this box set I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. The post-nuclear setting allowed the old world to truly die which means that all these new cultures can start to grow. I also enjoyed the lighter tone. Sure it feels a little off next to the other films in the series but because of that, it allows it to feel like its own thing. This isn’t just another Road Warrior and that’s great. Beyond Thunderdome may be my favourite Mad Max film, it’s tied between this and Fury Road.

Recommendation Rating: 9 out of 10

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