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Mad Max – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Mad-MaxFans of visionary director George Miller (The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdomeand Mad Max: Fury Road) and Oscar®-winning director/producer/actor Mel Gibson (Braveheart, Lethal Weapon) know well the dystopian action adventures of Max Rockatansky from the highly popular MAD MAX movies.  Relive the high-octane action, experience the visceral thrills, and see the beginning of this legendary road warrior before the brand new major motion picture hits theaters.  Scream Factory™ is proud to present MAD MAX Collector’s Edition Blu-ray™, packed with insightful bonus content, including all-new interviews with Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, director of photography David Eggby, special audio commentary, retrospective featurettes and much more! This definitive collector’s edition contains a collectible cover featuring newly rendered retro-style artwork and a reversible cover wrap featuring original theatrical key art.

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Film 

In the ravaged near-future, a savage motorcycle gang rules the road. Terrorizing innocent civilians while tearing up the streets, the ruthless gang laughs in the face of a police force hell-bent on stopping them. But they underestimate one officer: Max (Gibson). And when the bikers brutalize Max’s best friend and family, they send him into a mad frenzy that leaves him with only one thing left in the world to live for – revenge!

Mad Max is an unusual series in film history.  Its one of those rare occasions where someone may have watched its sequel and never realized that the first film may have existed.  Most people see The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) before venturing into Mad Max territory.  So, it can kind of go backward.  And while the films contain the same character, “world” and vehicular action, they couldn’t be more different than each other.

The first film sets the stage for the “post apocalyptic wasteland” genre, but its still somewhat recognizable.  The automobiles aren’t completely modified and people live in rather normal homes and visit “kind” looking locales.  Whereas the sequels would be in very much desert-like atmosphere, Mad Max takes it down the nice homely looking countryside.

While, the second film is an action/car movie staple and one that should be studied, copied and used as any sort of guide when making an action film (to this day); this first film is no slouch.  There is a lot of crazy, dangerous car and human stunts in this film and its all shot very impressively.  This film is the one where you see a filmmaker with a lot of potential and the second one is where you see that potential fully realized.  The demolition and chasing is all captured with great excitement, shock, nail-biting suspense and kid-like giddiness.  Seriously, that car just plowing through the trailer in the opening is a sight of pure joy that is only there for that specific purpose.

This is one of the roles that launched Mel Gibson on the road to roles and stardom in the United States.  He’s actually pretty commanding here in the role.  What’s great is that while he’s good here, you get to see him REALLY take control next time.  Gibson was able to take this character through three different stages.  In this original, he’s more human and we get to see a bit turn on revenge.  Gibson proves he can be both reckless/dangerous and compassionate/competent.  He also looks cool as hell driving the car.

One real strength of this film that I think might work better in this film is that it has a really well developed and wonderfully performed villain.  Toecutter is just disgusting, vile and a real wild card as you never know what he’s going to do.  He makes you uneasy every time steps on screen.  And you get the real feeling that no matter what, this guy always wins.  Its that rat bastard character you just want to see get his in the end.  And, he’s the one character that hits makes in the most personal and literally close to home manner anyone ever would.

While this isn’t my favorite film in the series, I do think its strong enough on its own and gives you something the other two really don’t.  This one feels more like weird low budget sci fi that I rather take a liking to.  Something that feels of the late 60s to the early/mid 70s.  The time before Star Wars hit.  The costuming, look and feel of the film all have a unique feel all to its own.  My only wish is that the score was more fitting to that (Like the synth used in the trailer) as opposed to trying to go with a big orchestra type scoring.

Mad Max began a film series that ran for 6 years and has largely lied dormant until a few weeks from now.  While it may be one that shows just a tad of its age, its something we say we want more of nowadays; real actions, real cars, real wreckage.  If you know the circumstances and what kind of production this film was, I’m sure you’ll be really impressed.  Its still a cool movie, just not the best featuring the character.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: If this transfer is a different one than what is previously out there, then I can’t really tell.  I threw my other in for comparison and they look pretty identical.  But that’s a good thing, because I was really impressed with the previous version.  Its got some great clarity, like smudges and scratches on cars, really good texture on the asphalt and kinks on leather jackets.  Its not an award winner, but damn if its not going to please everyone.

Depth:  Solid work for a 36 year old independent low budget Australian film.  There’s good background clarity and the characters all move smooth and clearly.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty rich and, but not problematic at all. Detail is still visible and not hidden when appropriately lit.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty bold and striking.  Reds pop right up off the screen.  There is some bleeding in a couple shots, but they really catch the eye.  Blues are strong and green look great in areas too.

Flesh Tones:  Natural and stay the same pretty much throughout.  Detail proves high on closeups and pretty decent in medium shots.  You get to see a lot of really little tattoos that may have not shown through in previous home video formats.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some grain, but surprisingly this print is devoid of specs, dirt and scratches and is rather clean.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): Australian 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Australian 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo, American Dubbed Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  I chose the 2.0 stereo track for this review since its the only track that isn’t on the previous release.  The only English/Australian track that didn’t transfer over is a mono Australian track.  This stereo track is really solid and brings the action to the forefront quite well.  There are a few instances of muffled canned sounding bits, but they are few and far between.  As for the 5.1, I’m pretty sure its the same as the previous release.  The embarrassing American dubbed mono track now appears in a lossless format.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear and clean.  It can be a little light volumed at times, but its always been this way.

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Extras 

Mad Max – Collector’s Edition comes with reversible cover art feature the original poster art that is one of the most badass posters of all time.  All the previous bonus features from other releases have been ported over here to combine with a new interview segment and TV Spots.

Audio Commentary

  • By Art Director John Dowding, DP David Eggby, SFX Artist Chris Murray and Tim Ridge

Interviews w/ Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel & DP David Eggby (HD, 26:27) – Not your typical Scream Factory retro doc.  Its 3 interviews weaved together with clips from the movie.  Its awesome to see Mel sit and recall the film as he’s looks to be having some fun.  Unfortunately there’s no talk of either of the sequels.

Mel Gibson: The Birth Of A Superstar (HD, 16:43) – A short little piece on Mel Gibson’s pre-US film star career.

Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon (HD, 25:35) – This is the doc from the previous Blu-ray that features plenty of interviews and personalities discussing the original film.  Also has the same narrator and style that the Birth Of A Superstar feature has.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 4:02) 

TV Spots (HD, 1:26) 

Photo Gallery – 102 images of posters, lobby cards, promotional shots and behind the scenes pictures.

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Summary 

The movie in this series we’re wanting a nice collector’s edition of, done up like the Scream Factory movies, is the second film in this series.  Fox/MGM has always been kind to this movie and given it bonus material and special editions on each format.  Scream Factory has one-upped them with the addition of getting Mel Gibson back for an interview, but that’s really where it stops.  They also ported over the Mel Gibson mini-doc that was left off the previous Blu-ray (But was on the DVD that was combo packed with it).  The video and audio are of similar quality to the previous edition.  For fans, the Gibson interview, original audio track and having the key poster art back may be enough to move on.  But for casuals, they’ll probably be fine with the Blu-ray they already have.  I will say this though, the pre-order price for this brand new Collector’s Edition is pretty outstanding and worth the slight upgrade in that regard.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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