Mad Max 2 (1981)

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Released 11-Jun-1999

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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.

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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