Overall | Conspiracy Theory (1997) | Maverick (1994) | Payback (1999) | Mad Max 2 (1981)

Mel Gibson's Best (Conspiracy Theory/Maverick/Payback/The Road Warrior) (1981)

Mel Gibson's Best (Conspiracy Theory/Maverick/Payback/The Road Warrior) (1981)

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Released 3-Dec-2003

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Overall Package

    Mel Gibson's Best is a compilation of 4 Mel Gibson movies, generally from earlier in his career, and indeed from earlier in the history of DVD releases in Region 4. The movies included in this compilation are Conspiracy Theory (great), Maverick (surprisingly good), Payback (so-so) and Mad Max 2 (it's Mad Max - need I say any more?), referred to as The Road Warrior on the packaging of this compilation, which was the US theatrical title.

    The discs are the same as those previously released in Region 4 with no additional extras and the same transfers. The discs are packaged in a very compact Amaray style case rather than in the less preferred and less robust gatefold/digipak style of packaging. The actual discs are held on figure-of-8 style holders, holding two discs on opposite sides of the insert in the same physical space as one would normally be held in. There are two of these inside the double-width case, making for a total of 4 discs in the package.

    Also included is a booklet which reproduces the individual front and back covers of the component DVDs in this package, complete with a gaffe for The Road Warrior indicating that the disc is dual-sided (widescreen and pan 'n' scan) - it isn't.

    Available for $69.95, or likely less at your favourite DVD retailer, this represents a substantial saving over the cost of the individual discs, which comes to $119.80 or so. Even if you like only 3 out of the 4 movies, this is a bargain and represents lots of entertainment bang for your dollar. Definitely recommended if the included titles tickle your fancy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Monday, November 24, 2003
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Conspiracy Theory (1997) | Maverick (1994) | Payback (1999) | Mad Max 2 (1981)

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

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Released 7-Oct-1998

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 130
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Donner
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Mel Gibson
Julia Roberts
Patrick Stewart
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Carter Burwell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Conspiracy Theory stars Mel Gibson as a paranoid New York cabbie by the name of Jerry Fletcher. He spouts his theories about government conspiracies, black helicopters, earthquakes and fluoride to all and sundry, but most particularly to Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts), an attorney for the Justice Department. He also publishes his views in a newsletter called "Conspiracy Theory". One day, he is picked up by some agents from an unknown agency, taken to an unknown place and brutally interrogated by Dr Jonas (Patrick Stewart). Jerry escapes, biting Dr Jonas' nose in the process, and seeks out Alice, but he is detained and taken to hospital to have his injuries treated.

    Alice visits Jerry in the hospital, where he implores her to change his drug chart with that of another patient. The next day, when Alice returns, the other patient is dead and Jerry is alive. "They" want to see Alice in the basement - one of they being Dr Jonas with his damaged nose which Alice heard about from Jerry during his near-incoherent ramblings earlier on. At this point, Alice is very confused and does not know who is telling the truth - up until now, she believed Jerry was a harmless paranoid. Jerry manages to escape from the hospital, and he and Alice find their way to Jerry's apartment.

    We learn that Jerry's newsletter only has five subscribers, and that Jerry compulsively buys the book Catcher In The Rye. The agents are hot on his trail, however, forcing Jerry and Alice to leave via Jerry's emergency escape exit, torching his apartment whilst they are leaving. They end up at Alice's house, where Alice kicks Jerry out into the street.

    Jerry buys a copy of Catcher In The Rye, and this is picked up by a central monitoring agency who despatch black helicopters and men on motorcycles to capture Jerry. Jerry manages to avoid capture again, and goes to ground. Meanwhile, Alice is checking up on the subscribers to Jerry's newsletter - four out of five of them have just died, so she visits the fifth one, and discovers it to be Dr Jonas. Dr Jonas tells Alice of a secret government mind-control program called MK-Ultra, which had programmed Jerry to be a killer, and implores Alice to help him find Jerry. Alice believes Dr Jonas and agrees to help track him down.

    Jerry contacts Alice via a pizza delivery, and Alice meets Jerry, with a tracking device added to the pizza. Jerry manages to avoid the trackers, and drives Alice to her father's place. Alice's father was murdered some time ago, and the killer had never been brought to justice. Jerry remembers that he was programmed to kill Alice's father but could not do it. Alice's father was going to expose the organization responsible for the mind control program, and so was killed by someone else.

    Dr Jonas and his troops arrive and capture Jerry. They attempt to kill Alice, but she escapes. She figures out where Jerry is being held, and makes her way there. Dr Jonas, Jerry and Alice engage in a fight, where Dr Jonas is killed and Jerry is mortally wounded.

    Several rapid and cunning plot twists follow which I won't disclose, except to say that there is at least one more plot twist than you would have expected to finish the movie off, and the movie has, sort-of, a happy ending, which for once is not a syrupy-sweet Hollywood-style happy ending, but a very satisfying ending nonetheless.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is the first of the Region 4 Warner Brothers releases that I have reviewed, and I chose this one particularly because I already had the Region 1 DVD to compare it with. The Region 4 transfer appears identical to the Region 1 transfer, which is great news for us, since most of the Region 1 transfers are very good. This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. The Region 1 DVD features both the 2.35:1 transfer 16x9 enhanced, and a Pan & Scan transfer, whereas we only get the 2.35:1 transfer. I note on the label of the Region 4 release the following in large lettering - "D1". While I have no direct evidence for this, I wonder whether this means that this transfer was created from a D1 master - indeed it will be interesting to check some of the older Warners releases for this moniker or for a D2 moniker. I note that the Region 4 version of  The Fugitive which I am about to review has the same D1 label on it.

    The movie was razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was superb with clear shadow details and not a trace of noise. This is another movie with a lot of dark scenes - these movies really benefit from DVDs lack of low level noise.

    The colour is perfectly rendered throughout the transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. There are a number of scenes in this movie involving very rapid strobing of screen shots which I would have expected to have been degraded by MPEG encoding, but in fact they appear to have come through completely intact. As an interesting aside, the Region 4 version of this DVD has a warning regarding the strobe effects that the movie uses as part of the initial copyright message, and warns epileptics to beware. This warning is not present on the Region 1 title - perhaps Warners has had some complaints? Film-to-video artefacts were few and far between, except for some shimmer and moire effects seen on some of the scenes involving Venetian blinds and in one scene involving a car's grille. I directly compared these scenes with the Region 1 DVD of this title, and the artefacts were identical. I noted no significant film artefacts on this transfer.

    One of the subtitle choices, which I feel deserves special mention since I have not seen it before, was "English for the Hearing Impaired". This is identical to the English subtitle track with the addition of occasional descriptions of sound effects (eg GLASS SMASHING) where the sound effects take place off-screen.

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1. There are no MPEG tracks on this DVD.

    Dialogue was pretty much always clear and intelligible, even in scenes with high ambient noise.

    The music is suitably conspiratorial, and I noted the usual PAL 4% speed-up when directly compared with the NTSC version.

     The surround channels were used frequently to create an ambient soundfield, especially in the outdoor scenes. Particularly notable was the interrogation scene, where Dr Jonas could be heard all around you in various directions, an effect impossible to achieve with a matrix mix. This added significantly to the disorienting nature of this scene. The surrounds were also well used during special effects sequences, such as when the black helicopters were flying around, when you could clearly hear the directions they were coming from. The surrounds were also well used during the action sequences to envelop you in the movie. All in all, a good soundfield was created with this soundtrack.

    The .1 channel was sometimes used to enhance the music, but was mainly used to underscore the action sequences. The additional slam added by the subwoofer added nicely to these scenes.

Extras

    The only two extras on this DVD are still frames for the cast and crew biographies, still framed brief production notes and Reel Recommendations, which are still frames of other Warner DVD titles that the stars and the director were involved with.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    All versions of this DVD are identically specified for all practical purposes. Note that whilst the Region 1 DVD packaging makes mention of a Theatrical Trailer, it is in fact not present on the Region 1 DVD.

Summary

    I enjoyed Conspiracy Theory. This is not your typical Hollywood fare. The story keeps you guessing and alert all of the way through as to what is real and what is not. Mel Gibson is superb in this movie. Even Julia Roberts manages to make a semi-decent effort in her role.

    The video quality is superb except for the very minor artefacts mentioned above.

    The audio quality is also superb with a soundtrack that frequently envelops and involves you.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Saturday, October 03, 1998
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
NZHT - Damon B
The DVD Bits - John Z
The Fourth Region - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Ian M (Biological imperfection run amok)
DVD Rent - Deej

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Conspiracy Theory (1997) | Maverick (1994) | Payback (1999) | Mad Max 2 (1981)

Maverick (1994)

Maverick (1994)

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Released 29-Dec-1998

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Western Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 121
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Donner
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Mel Gibson
Jodie Foster
James Garner
Graham Greene
James Coburn
Alfred Molina
Case Snapper
RPI $29.95 Music Randy Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Polish
Greek
Czech
Turkish
Hungarian
Icelandic
Croatian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Maverick is a light-hearted Western based on the TV series of the same name. It stars Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick, a fast-talking poker-playing all-round good guy. Bret is trying to get to a high stakes poker game, and needs $25,000 as stake money. He meets the very feisty Mrs Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) and the very straight Zane Cooper (James Garner) at the start of the adventure, and they end up making their way to the poker competition together - not by choice, mind you, but by necessity.

    Lots of adventures and misadventures accompany our heroes' travels across the country, as do many snappy one-liners, making this movie a rollicking good experience that continually moves on at a cracking pace. A number of surprising twists and excellent stunts also help the movie along on its way. See if you can guess who is conning whom by the end of the movie! I certainly got it wrong.

    All three actors do a sterling job on the comedic aspects of this movie - you cannot help but like Bret Maverick, who seems able to con his way out of any sticky situation he finds himself in, and you will be well satisfied with the end result of the movie, which is certainly not what you will expect.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is pretty much faultless, and is one of the best transfers I have seen to date, and certainly the best Warner Brothers transfer to date that I have seen.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was sharp as a tack and crystal clear. Shadow detail was excellent, and no low level noise was seen.

    The colours were vibrantly rendered and clear with no evidence of bleeding at all.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were not a problem with this transfer, except for some trivial aliasing on the outside of the Bank building. One very short long shot showed a small amount of wobble, but the image was otherwise rock steady. Film artefacts were few and far between, especially given the vintage of this movie.

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no problems with audio sync during this movie.

    The music by Randy Newman varied between exciting and laid-back, and was aptly suited to this style of movie. I personally find Randy Newman has a very distinctive musical style which does not always suit the movie he is scoring, but in this case, the music fit the movie nicely.

     The surround channel was often active, used for music, ambience and a number of special effects. Split surround effects, of course, were non-existent, but nonetheless, an aggressive and enveloping sound presence was created by this soundtrack.

    The .1 channel was not specifically encoded, but my surround sound processor sent plenty of signal from the music and the special effects into the subwoofer, and it enhanced the effect of the movie nicely.

Extras

    There are only a few extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu design is relatively unremarkable.

Production Notes

    Extensive production notes cover shooting locations, stunts, actors, and technical considerations. They make for good reading.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Extensive Cast & Crew Biographies are present, and are also worth reading.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    There is no compelling reason to prefer one version over the other.

Summary

    Maverick is a fun, light-hearted movie with good helpings of comedy and action. It is presented on a superb DVD.

    The video quality is essentially flawless.

    The audio quality is very good indeed for a matrix mix, and just falls short of the best discrete soundtracks.

    The extras are quite limited, but quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Friday, January 22, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
NZHT - Damon B
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Ian M (Biological imperfection run amok)
DVD Rent - Deej

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Conspiracy Theory (1997) | Maverick (1994) | Payback (1999) | Mad Max 2 (1981)

Payback (1999)

Payback (1999)

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Released 6-Sep-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Interviews-Cast-4
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 97:04
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brian Helgeland
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Mel Gibson
Gregg Henry
Maria Bello
David Paymer
Case Snapper
RPI $36.95 Music Chris Boardman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Tired of seeing Mel Gibson as a good guy? Well, in Payback, Mel plays Porter, a somewhat single-minded robber who has been dudded out of $70,000 by his partner Val (Gregg Henry) and his wife. Oh, and they shot him and left him for dead. Well, Porter is not dead, he wants his money, and he isn't letting anyone stand in his way.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. The other side of this disc carries a Pan & Scan version of the movie. As is typical with Warner Home Video dual ratio discs, the labelling is completely misleading in regards to the Pan & Scan side, though it is a little better than in the past.

    The transfer was very sharp and very clear at all times, but with some film grain apparent in some shots. This is a result of the bleach process used to create the print, and is a deliberate choice on the part of the filmmakers. Shadow detail was very good and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were deliberately presented very unusually. They were very faded, almost black & white, with predominantly strong blues present. Some scenes were predominately green. There were no scenes whatsoever in this movie where colours were presented in the slightest bit naturally. I personally found this quite irritating, even though this was a deliberate choice on the part of the moviemakers. Indeed, according to Mel Gibson, they wanted to make this film in black & white but commercial considerations precluded this.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. There was some minor aliasing, but this artefact was well-controlled. A few minor film artefacts were present in the transfer, but nothing significant.

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1. The default soundtrack is the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which is the one that I listened to.

    Dialogue was always clear and  easy to understand, and always natural-sounding, a high point of this soundtrack.

    There were no audio sync problems with this soundtrack.

    The score by Chris Boardman was highly stylized and suited the film noir setting of the movie.

    The surround channels were moderately used for special effects and music, but generally this was a front soundstage dialogue mix.

    The .1 channel was also used only moderately, to support special effects and music.

Extras

    This disc has only limited extras.

Menu - 16:9 & 4:3

Theatrical Trailer

    The theatrical trailer on the Pan & Scan side of this disc is 4:3, not 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced as it is on the widescreen side of this disc.

Cast Interviews

    There are 4 interviews, each running continuously, with fade-outs between silent questions. There is a little useful information presented, but nothing spectacular.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc has;     The Region 4 version of this disc has;     There is no compelling reason to prefer one version over the other.

Summary

    Payback is an unusual film, both in plot and in look. Overall, I liked it, though I found the visual appearance of the film to be more of a distraction from the story rather than an enhancement to the story.

    The video quality is good given the deliberate choice of this colour palette.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are limited and of little value.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Thursday, September 09, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
NZHT - Damon B
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Dane

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Conspiracy Theory (1997) | Maverick (1994) | Payback (1999) | Mad Max 2 (1981)

Mad Max 2 (1981)

Mad Max 2 (1981)

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Released 11-Jun-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Post Apocalyptic None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 91:27
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George Miller
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Mel Gibson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Brian May


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    What? You expect a plot? This is a Mad Max film for crying out loud! Well, there is a mild taste of a plot, so here it is. We begin with a summary of the events leading up to and during the original Mad Max, which makes the original a redundant item unless you're really into the series. We learn about the way in which Max (Mel Gibson) became what he is today - a roving nomad driven only by a sense of survival and justice. We then cut to a shot of his impressive V8 Interceptor as he is being pursued by a bunch of nastier nomadic desert warriors led by the completely insane Wez (Vernon Wells). Finding himself low on fuel, Max quickly beats off his pursuers and wanders into the desert in search of more, where he encounters the equally, but differently, insane Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence). Threatened with Max's lethal vengeance after a failed attempt to steal what little fuel Max has left, the Gyro Captain tells Max of a compound out in the desert where a tribe of not-quite-up-to-it warriors are extracting and refining fuel. Max soon travels to meet with the tribe, led by the idealistic Pappagallo (Mike Preston). Max soon learns that there is a real purpose to the refining of fuel within this camp - the people within wish to leave for what they presume will be a better life on the Gold Coast. Standing in their way is the gang of hard-headed road warriors Wez and his cohorts were merely a small part of, led by the enigmatic Humungus (Kjell Nilsson) and his speech-making sidekick Toadie (Max Phipps).

    Lead actor Mel Gibson describes the original Mad Max as "the classiest B-grade trash ever made", and Mad Max 2, or The Road Warrior as it was called in Region 1, is little different. Whereas the original was made on the same sort of budget as Robert Rodriguez's first feature, El Mariachi, this sequel is held together by the same sort of budget as The Blair Witch Project, and the results with this film are yet another nail in the coffin of BWP, I can tell you. This is the film on which many famous names in the Australasian film market cut their teeth, but cinematographer Dean Semler is sadly the only one besides Mel Gibson who made any real impact overseas. His photography in this film is what saves this film from being just another B-grade sequel to another B-grade film. All the actors, including Gibson in this case, range from one-dimensional to simply appalling, which is a sharp contrast to the character-driven story of the original. Whilst I am on the topic of comparing this sequel to the original, Mad Max 2 also brings over a few execution problems from its predecessor. These include a severe lack of camera stability during the climactic battle, and sound editing that can be described as haphazard at best.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is well done. A few film-to-video artefacts here and there, but this is far better than we really should expect from a film that was made on such a low budget then left to rot by an uncaring distributor. The film itself is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but the only thing in this film that justifies such an aspect ratio is Dean Semler's brilliant wide-angle shots. Thankfully, Warner Brothers were gracious enough to provide us with 16x9 enhancement. As a result, the level of sharpness highlights the rockiness and dirtiness of the environment. Or should that be the other way around? The colours range from drab to vibrant, depending on the subject of the shot. Most of the time, the colour arrangement is perfectly suited to the subject. Any times when it isn't can be blamed on the budget. Amazingly enough, there's little artefacting throughout the film. The occasional grain of dirt shows up here and there on the picture, but generally speaking, this is a better transfer than I was expecting.

    The only letdown is that the shadow detail is appalling, but we can overlook this because a surprisingly small amount of the film takes place in darkness. When a night-time sequence does occur, however, the picture tends to lose quite a lot of detail, which can also necessitate the use of the Hard of Hearing subtitles to make the source of a sound clear. This is hardly surprising, however, given that the lighting setups necessary to counter this in a location like Broken Hill would cost more than the whole movie. So, once again, this deficiency can be blamed on the source material rather than the DVD mastering.

Audio

    Given what they had to work with (and the original sound mix, while being an improvement over that of the first Mad Max, is still shocking), Warner Brothers have done a textbook job with the audio transfer of this film. The sound is presented in two formats: Dolby Digital 5.1, and mono. The English and French versions are both presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, while the Italian version is in Dolby Digital 1.0, or mono as the packaging states. Given that the original source material was doubtlessly recorded in mono, this is definitely an improvement over the VCR version. Brian May's (no, he isn't the same guy as the Brian May of Queen fame) score music adds some much-needed tension and excitement to many sequences that would otherwise fail to suspend the disbelief. The music is very overstated and, in a way, it drives the whole film.

    This brings me to one of the worst points about the first two films in this series. The sound mix is appalling on both Mad Max 2 and its predecessor, although this sequel is a definite improvement. The music is much louder than the sound effects, and the sound effects often drown out the dialogue. Even when there is no other sound hogging the mix, the dialogue occasionally becomes inaudible, and many interesting statements are lost without the use of subtitles. The kindest thing that can be said about the sound on this film is that at least there are no moments where it becomes practically silent during extreme close-ups of actor's faces that show their lips moving, as happened in the VCR version of the original.

    The dialogue, and there is a surprising amount of it, is mostly easy to make out when the character doing the talking is in focus. Just. But the film really suffers for the off-screen speeches that aren't. Humungous' "nobody gets out of here alive" speech (Chapter 18, 53:58) sinks below the point of being inaudible in spite of the fact that he is in frame through most of it. It's sort of like watching one of those dreadful silent films from the early Hollywood years. Audio sync isn't a problem since most of the speech is short and rapid. The music is sometimes overly dominative, but this can be overlooked since the film would be quite dull without it. The speakers, however, seem to get a nice workout most of the time.

Extras

    No extras are provided. The menu system is mostly well-made, although the chapter selection menu is like a lot of Warner Brothers titles - incomplete and hardly worth using. Other than that, this is a movie-only disc, which is somewhat disappointing.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Mad Max and its sequels are among the few films I would prefer the Region 4 version of simply because they were made here and are generally better-made at the film level. Mad Max 2 is distributed in America under the title The Road Warrior, probably in an effort to distance the film from the original Mad Max, which the distributors there turned into a butchered mess.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    Unless you're so seriously into this film that you cannot live without a proper scene selection menu, and a biography of its star that you'll probably be able to find elsewhere, Region 4 is the way to go simply because the film was actually made here. The superior PAL format also seals the argument, given the number of shots in this film that would require the best formatting possible just to make sense.

Summary

    Mad Max 2 is a hypnotic mayhem-fest presented on a reasonable DVD. It is easy to see after viewing the film how casting directors for Lethal Weapon would have thought Mel Gibson a good choice. Ironic given that Gibson only won this role in the original because he'd been beaten up the day before his audition.

    The video quality is far better than we have any right to expect. Not wonderful, but far more so than the VCR version.

    The audio quality defies the age and handling of the source material.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Wednesday, January 26, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersPanasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Mad Max 2 Special Edition - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
Mad Max 2 aka The Road Warrior - Christopher
Bugger gasoline, where's the coal, boyo! -
Where's the 2 disc??? - Hungus