Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Such a frustrating disappointment
I'll tell you why so serious
Unshakable, witty and deeply felt, the film will be paying emotional dividends for a long, long time.
All of these films share one commonality, that being a kind of emotional center that humanizes a cast of monsters.
Up until Max gets sent off to the desert to the weird clan of children, this movie is pretty good. Dumb, but coherent and entertaining. After that, this movie devolves into such bizarre nonsense that it would be worth watching for the sheer shock factor if it wasn't also really really boring. If you really want to watch this movie, shut it off after Max leaves the Thunderdome, unless you want to be really, really confused.
Then we come to Beyond Thunderdome which is a disappointment after the awesomeness of the previous film. It tried too hard to be a rehash of The Road Warrior as well a more easily acceptable, Hollywood version of it that it just fell flat. While watching this one I couldn't help but come up with a different version of Thunderdome which I think would have been so much better.Thunderdome or Beyond Thunderdome without a Mad Max preface. If The Road Warrior could stand without the Mad Max preface, Thunderdome can as well. The Thunderdome also should have been the focus of the movie. The Thunderdome is the most interesting part of this film and should have been the emphasis instead of simply the one fight we get between Max and Blaster. Make this one stand out on its own and be the story of Max trying to earn his right to fight Blaster to accommodate the deal he made with Auntie Entity. The Thunderdome should be a form of entertainment for the people of Bartertown instead of just simply a way to settle disputes. Cut out all of the unnecessary junk with the children and Capt. Walker and instead fill up that time with Max battling his way through opponents in the Thunderdome and maybe a sweet montage of Blaster destroying all comers. The fight with Blaster could have been exactly the same, but instead we would have had 2 or 3 fights leading up to the showdown. If for some reason you found it necessary to include the children make them part of underworld and have Max fight to free them. The beginning of the movie and the end of the film could have remained the same, but our middle section would have been filled up with fight action instead of Lord of the Flies kid societies and quicksand. I would also have cut out the very 80's music and the cheesy comedy. I truly believe that these changes would take this movie from a not good 7 to at least a good 8 if not higher.
Often cited as the weakest entry in the 'Mad Max' franchise, 'Thunderdome' is a surprisingly decent post-apocalyptic tale. The negative reputation is understandable with the film lacking the extreme violence and kooky supporting characters that made the first two movies such big hits. The basic plot is enthralling though -- even if it does not really take off until 45 minutes in -- with Max found unconscious by a group of children living by their wits in the desert. The kids mistake him for a missing pilot who they consider a savior, and while initially reluctant to play hero, Max nevertheless finds some of his lost humanity from the first two films and eventually helps them out. None of the kids are especially interesting, but their lifestyle is endlessly intriguing, full of madcap philosophies and mythologies as a result of them being stranded for as long as any of them can remember; old photos evoke memories of a pre-apocalyptic world that they dream of, but they really are lost - a first generation of the post-apocalyptic landscape. Add in sets and costumes as creative as ever, and it is hard to see this as a significantly lesser film than the first two. It is just very different. Sure, the first, second and third acts here feel a tad disjointed, but there is lots to like in all three sections including the title location. And Tina Turner's theme song is simply divine.
Beyond Thunderdome is the most expansive and broad Mad Max film. It goes from a cut-throat capitalist society to a far-off place where one group has no knowledge of the complete obliteration of civilization. Also, Beyond Thunderdome has different action scenes than just chases (i.e. the Thunderdome where two men enter and only one man can leave). And yet again, another insane chase scene exists at the end, this time between Entity (Tina Turner) and Max (Mel Gibson). However, Beyond Thunderdome has the least amount of action than any Mad Max. It's action is intense, but contained until necessary for the plot. Therefore, the action enhances the plot rather than being the central focus. This is unique for Mad Max. Beyond Thunderdome is the most layered of any Mad Max story, while retaining the crazy action and insane post-apocalyptic characters and environments. While it is such a different Mad Max movie, it continues the story of a man who has nothing left inside but anger and an instinct to survive.