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Mad Max

Mad Max

When you consider that this was the movie that put Mel Gibson on the map, you'd think it would be a better movie.

Unfortunately, Mad Max is pretty bad, even by 1980 standards.

Max is a police officer in the near future, a future where a brutal motorcycle gang rules the streets. They terrorize innocent people and have a blatant disregard for the law.

Then one day, they pick the wrong innocent people to terrorize. They nearly kill Max's best friend and family, which sends Max into a vengeful rampage, which I'm assuming is where he gets the name "Mad Max."

Even for a low-budget Australian film, Mad Max is pretty cheesy. Not good cheesy; bad cheesy. The problem is that they were trying to be serious. If they had tried to be cheesy and ended up being cheesy, it would have been a success. Instead, it's just cheesy.

Mel Gibson is appropriate as Max. I wouldn't say he's great, but he's appropriate. It's not much of a role, and I have no idea why it made him a star (I am a Mel Gibson fan, so don't think I'm saying this out of dislike).

However, they did manage to do one thing right with the DVD: they presented the film in its original Australian language. When it was first released in the U.S., it was dubbed in "American." It's not at all difficult to understand the Ozzies, so it's nice to see it the way it was filmed, and not with lame voices dubbed over the real ones.

After all, there is a commonality to Australian and American: English.

In a flurry of marketing, Mad Max is branded as the classic action movie that made Mel Gibson a star. I guess if you believe that, then you're exactly the kind of person this DVD was made for.

Otherwise, I wouldn't bother, unless you merely want to see where Mel came from.

Good DVD, though. As is commonly the case these days, MGM has done a fine job on the disc. The picture is a little fuzzy, but it's an old low budget film and so this can be forgiven. All these things considered, the video quality is actually quite good. You have your choice of 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen or 1.33:1 Pan&Scan.

The sound, on the other hand, is not quite good, all things considered. Apparently presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, it sounds more like mono. I guess there's only so much you can do with an old track that was really bad in the first place, but this soundtrack doesn't deserve to be called Dolby Digital Surround.

To start off the extras department, there is an audio commentary with Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray and Tim Ridge. This is an average commentary. It would have been nice to have director George Miller or Mel Gibson involved, but what can you do? There is also a "Road Rants" trivia and fact track. This is basically like the TV show "Pop-up Video," except it has something worthwhile to tell you.

The better of the extras include two documentaries. The first is called "Mel Gibson: The Birth of a Superstar." It basically talks about how Mel Gibson became a star even before Mad Max was released. It's a nice homage to one of the most famous actors out there. The other is called "Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon" and is exactly what you'd expect: a tribute to the film. It's slightly better than most movie docs out there, but still not great.

Other extras include a photo gallery, the trailer and TV spots.

Mad Max, from MGM Home Entertainment
94 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne and Steve Bisley
Produced by Byron Kennedy, Written by James McCausland and George Miller
Directed by George Miller


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Updated May 13, 2006