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Mad Max Anthology [Blu-ray]  [Region Free]
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4 film Blu-ray collection, plus bonus Madness of Max feature-length documentary DVD and 4 exclusive artcards in a rigid slipcase.
The Madness of Max is a feature-length documentary on the making of arguably the most influential movie of the past thirty years. With over forty cast-and-crew interviews, hundreds of behind-the-scenes photographs and never-before-seen film footage of the shoot, this is without a doubt the last word on Mad Max. Interviews include: George Miller, Byron Kennedy, Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Joanne Samuel, David Eggby, Jon Dowding and many more. From the Producers to the Bike Designers to the Traffic Stoppers, this is the story of how Mad Max was made.
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Top customer reviews
The latest Mad Max is by far the best and one of the best films of the year if not decade. If you really want to immerse yourself in a Mad Max world get a copy of Rage for Xbox 360, it was heavily influenced by Mad Max before Fury Road came out and is a great companion to the film.
The only redeeming feature is the Madness of Max documentary which is full of interesting stories and anecdotes about the making of the first film, this comes on a separate disc.
This release was a chance to really put together a boxed set that these classic films deserve but, unfortunately, it's just a cheap money grab with no effort put into it whatsoever.
The original, late seventies, Mad Max film was the only one of the series that I hadn’t seen any of before getting this set and while I did find it interesting, I think it is one of the weaker films in the series. Set in a world where a lack of fuel is causing a breakdown of law and order, Max Rockatansky is a police pursuit driver who comes into conflict with a nomad motorbike gang. The film has some nice moments with some good car chases and stunts but is relatively weak on character and world building. The acting in the film is also quite rough around the edges. Another issue with this first film is that it lacks the post-apocalyptic/Desert Punk ascetic of the other films of the series giving it a totally different feel to the following films that can be a little jarring when watching the films back-to-back. While still entertaining this first film isn’t as good as some of the others of the series and individually I would give it around three and a half stars.
The second film is 'Mad Max: The Road Warrior' and it is a great improvement on the original film. This movie sees Max traveling the wastelands searching for fuel to scavenge when he chances upon a refinery under siege from a gang of savage raiders lead by the warlord Lord Humungus. This was a very entertaining film that introduces the true post-apocalyptic setting that the series is famous for. The opening monologue of the Road Warrior also details the backstory of the setting, something that the first film was unfortunately lacking. In fact, this second film in the franchise is easily better that the original in every war with the action, plot, characters and acting all far superior to its predecessor. A particular highlight of the film is the main bad guy, Lord Humungus, who is a very good antagonist, even if his ultimate defeat is a little anticlimactic. The Feral Kid was also an entertaining character. Overall I feel that the 'Road Warrior' is easily one of the better films in the franchise and is worth a low five stars in its own right.
The third movie in the set is 'Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome' and it is probably weakest of all the films. Set in a now full on post-apocalyptic desert, 'Beyond the Thunderdome' sees Max hired by the mayor of Bartertown to kill her rival but things don’t go quite to plan and Max ends up lost in the desert. As with a number of film series from this period, this third instalment of the franchise is somewhat lighter and softer than the previous films, being a bit campier in places and adds a number of children to the cast. The action in the series, while still entertaining, isn’t quite as good, or as brutal, as in the previous instalments and the plot isn’t quite as interesting. The acting in the film is a little average but everyone involved in the film do seem to be having fun at least and Tina Turner is actually surprisingly entertaining as the mayor of Bartertown. Overall I feel 'Beyond the Thunderdome' is worth around three to three and a half stars with the best part of the film being the brilliant theme song sung by Tina Turner.
The fourth and final film in he set is 'Mad Max: Fury Road', the modern sequel that many people think was the best science fiction film released in 2015. This film is something of a departure to the previous films as Max himself doesn’t have as much prominence in the plotline, sharing the billing with the awesome Imperator Furiosa. The story sees Max, somewhat reluctantly, help Furiosa in her attempt to save the wives of the savage warlord Immortan Joe. Personally I feel that this modern take on the Mad Max franchise is the best of the series so far with some truly stunning action and chase scenes (the final battle in particular is great), as well as some brilliant cinematography and special effects. Charlize Theron is brilliant as Furiosa, as is Nicholas Hoult as Nux (probably my favourite character in the film). Tom Hardy also does a very good job of playing a more unhinge version of Max than Mel Gibson. While I did enjoy this film very much, it isn’t without its faults. One of these is that I feel that the first part of the film is a little rushed and confused in places, and could have done with taking a little more time to establish the characters and setting. Another problem is that, with the exception of Max, Furiosa and Nux, many of the characters lack much in the way of development, resulting in a number of interesting characters feeling somewhat underused. The main problem with 'Fury Road' however is that it sometimes focuses far too much on the action than on the plot, resulting in the film being rather light in story. Despite the minor problems I still feel that this film is well worth a full five stars in all.
This set is unfortunately rather light on special features. Alongside the 'Madness of Max' behind the scenes featurette on the bonus disc, the set itself includes a number of quite nice artcards, while the 'Fury Road' disc includes a number of deleted scenes.
Overall this set was a good set that includes a couple of great films and a couple of reasonable films. Despite the variable quality of the films, they are all still quite entertaining and well worth watching. As a set I think the 'Mad Max Anthology' is well worth a solid four stars.
The quality of the movies themselves is variable, though all four are highly entertaining. Personally I think Mad Max is showing its age, not to mention its limited budget. The car chases and stunts are impressive, but action scenes often seem to be over before they’ve got going, and the final confrontation between Max and Toecutter is all too brief and ends rather unsatisfactorily. Acting is also pretty variable, with the bad guys something of a liability on this front, though Joanne Samuel and Steve Bisley are excellent as Max’s wife and best buddy respectively. What really elevates this movie though is of course Mel Gibson: his magnetic charisma carries Mad Max over its humps and bumps, and you feel his pain as his life is torn apart and root for him as he seeks vengeance.
Mad Max 2 stands head and shoulders above the rest of the franchise. Without the need to show how Max became mad, and with considerably more money to spend, George Miller is able to launch straight into a frenzy of action scenes and spectacular stunts. Gibson is superb, and the supporting cast is good too, with Bruce Spence as the Gyro Captain, Vernon Wells as the sadistic Wez, Michael Preston as Pappagallo and a young Virginia Hey as the nameless ‘warrior woman’. My only gripe is that the leader of the villains is rather ludicrous - a muscle-bound hulk wearing a hockey mask and sporting a dodgy accent and a silly name (Humungus).
Thunderdome is a curate’s egg of a movie. There is an awful lot of good stuff here – Barter Town, the Thunderdome fight itself and the climatic car chase are all superbly done – but I personally find Tina Turner irritating, and the introduction of the children who believe that Max is their messiah slows the pace and injects a feelgood factor that seems out of place in this franchise. Gladly the film doesn’t provide a Hollywood happy ending for Max.
I’m still not sure quite what to make of Fury Road. In its two hour running time it seems to cram in more mayhem and carnage than the previous three films combined. The action is frenetic and the stunts are outrageous, and the performances are generally first rate, with Charlize Theron magnificent as Furiosa, an excellent turn from an unrecognisable Nicholas Hoult as Warboy Nux, and good support from the actresses playing the Five Wives. But Fury Road has little discernable plot – even Mad Max 2 had a story and a twist at the end – but this is just a “chase followed by a race”, as one of the crew describe the movie in a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Another gripe is that often the action happens so quickly that it’s hard to work out what’s going on; even with the benefit of the rewind button on my Blu Ray controller I still couldn’t figure out what was happening at times. Despite all the stunts being done for real, there is ladles of CGI and digital enhancement on display, the result being a film which looks very different to the previous instalments; indeed, sometimes it looks like the action is taking place on some alien world somewhere. And not all of the CGI looks that good, with the computer generated guitar and steering wheel in the climactic crash looking especially unrealistic.
But for me the fundamental problem with Fury Road is Tom Hardy. I generally quite like him as an actor, but not only does he not resemble Gibson either physically or vocally, he also seems to spend most of the movie looking lost and bewildered rather than cool and mean. He is great in the action scenes though. The PQ is excellent by the way, though Miller’s frame rate manipulation often results in things moving across camera in a jerky fashion, which is somewhat irritating.
As stated before the first three movies are almost completely bereft of extras, with trailers and a commentary plus introduction by Leonard Maltin for Mad Max 2 about all you get (maybe sometime the extras included on one of the US releases will make their way across the Atlantic). However Fury Road comes with around 90 mins of featurettes and deleted scenes, which are generally pretty engaging and informative. Sadly the Madness of Max documentary comes on a DVD rather than a Blu Ray which means the PQ isn’t that great, but at 2½ hours it’s certainly exhaustive and in-depth; indeed while there are plenty of interesting and amusing anecdotes, it seems to go on forever and would have benefited I think from a bit of trimming. Still, with contributions from virtually the entire cast and crew, including a disturbingly twitchy Gibson, you can’t really complain.
Overall I’m giving this set four stars instead of five because: the packaging could have been better, there are no meaningful extras on films 1-3, the new documentary is on DVD rather than BD, only Mad Max 2 is a five-star masterpiece, and at £28 I reckon this is rather pricey for a 5-disc set (compared to £15 for the 4-disc Back to the Future 30th Anniversary set released on the same day). But if you don’t own Max on BD yet, this is still a must buy.