Mel Gibson Mad Max
Bruce Spence
Adam Cockburn
Jedediah Jnr.
Tina Turner
Aunty Entity
Frank Thring
The Collector
Angelo Rossitto
The Master
Paul Larsson
The Blaster

Directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie. Written by Terry Hayes and George Miller. 1985. Running time: 106 minutes.

madmax3.jpg (10803 bytes)Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is the third and last movie in the Mad Max series. For some reason, all the Mad Max movies have been featured recently as "Sci-Fi Movies of the Month".

Maybe it's because I've recently managed to see them all again on video lately. But while I went to the trouble of actually renting its predecessors (Mad Max and The Road Warrior), I didn't bother going to the same lengths with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It showed late on TV one night so I set the VCR - and that's it really.

Never being a fan of what must definitely be the weakest entry in the series, I don't know what I really expected from seeing the movie again. After seeing Beyond the Thunderdome upon its release back in 1985, I didn't bother with checking out the movie again later on. After reading a raving review by noted film critic Roger Ebert of the movie (he thought it to be one of 1985's best), I decided that I must have missed something somehow.

Unfortunately, thirteen years haven't done much to change my opinion of the movie. It isn't very good. Like with most sequels it ran out of steam and ideas and seems merely like a rehash of what has gone before. In Beyond Thunderdome's case, it most resembles its 1981 sibling, The Road Warrior - it even ends with a chase very similar to the adrenaline-charged chase that made up the last third of that movie. Besides running out of ideas, Byond Thunderdome also commits a mistake made by most sequels: it stopped believing in itself.

What do I mean by this? By adding hordes of cute children, toning down the ultraviolence that marked the previous movies and adding some Tina Turner songs (back then she was quite popular) the film tries aiming at an audience different to the ones that the first two such box office hits. The franchise stopped believing in itself - just like Conan the Destroyer and RoboCop 3 it was aimed at a much younger audience. It is as if the producers thought to themselves: only kids can take this stuff seriously, so lets change the focus . . .

Focus is also the one thing that Beyond Thunderdome lacks. The story wanders around from one incident to another until it finally tries to knot things together with its climatic chase. But we've already seen this done before and after sitting through some long boring stretches it isn't really what we wanted to see again.

If rumours are to be believed, Warner Bros. (the studio behind the Mad Max movies) plans to revive the series again. It is doubtful whether Mel Gibson will reprise his role again, but that is besides the point. After expensive flops like The Postman, Soldier and The Avengers, it is no doubt looking for a sure fire hit. Mad Max 4 won't be it unless they come up with something more original than Beyond Thunderdome, an unlikely event if I ever heard of one! To paraphrase Tina Turner: "We don't need another sequel . . ."

© January 1999  James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page



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