Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Angelo Rossitto, Helen Buday, Bruce Spence, Frank Thring
Written by: Terry Hayes, George Miller
Directed by: George Miller, George Ogilvie
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 107
Date: 07/09/1985

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Another Hero

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The third in the series, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome irritated fans, basically, for not being like the previous movie, The Road Warrior. It was lighter and more cartoonish, with bigger, brighter production values. It softened the violence and came in with a PG-13 rating, and it included a band of cute kids helping the hero. But it holds up well, and another look reveals a very smart, highly imaginative movie. (Roger Ebert was an early supporter.) As it begins, Max (Mel Gibson) no longer seems to have a gas-powered vehicle, and his animal-drawn transport is stolen. He makes his way to Bartertown to get it back; he meets the flashy ruler Auntie Entity (Tina Turner) and makes a deal. If he fights Master-Blaster (a little person riding on the back of a big person) in the arena known as Thunderdome, he will be all set. But of course things go wrong, and Max finds himself banished to the desert where he meets a bunch of kids. They think his coming has been foretold and that he's there to rescue them. It all leads to a return to Bartertown and one hell of a chase sequence. Miller's theme here seems to be adaptation, how people's normal human traits and instincts continue to kick in and change along with the world. The Thunderdome sequence is one of the great things in sci-fi cinema, but other images, including the rectangular storytelling device (like a movie screen) the kids use, suggest boundless invention. Bruce Spence returns as the pilot. Turner recorded two terrific pop songs for the movie, and Maurice Jarre provided the tribal, clanging musical score.

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