The third installment in the Mad Max series has Max (Mel Gibson) getting caught in Bartertown–a desert community powered by pig feces. In order to get his stolen vehicle back, the town’s evil queen, Aunty Entity (Tina Turner), requires him to kill the leader of the feces refinery. When Max refuses to do so, he gets banished from the town. In the second part of this film, Max gets found in the desert almost dead by Savannah (Helen Buday)–a dweller who is part of a small desert tribe of kids that thinks that Max is a savior named Flight Captain whom they’ve learned about over the years.
I know it sounds confusing, but it’s the intricate premise that sets this film apart from the rest of the series. The first two are definitely groundbreaking in terms of cinematography, but this one finally gets a good script that learns how to utilize subplots.
Although we are unclear of the time lapse between films, we know it’s been quite a few years. The filmmakers decide to forget all about Max’s past, as this could very well be a standalone movie. And if it wasn’t for the increasing depth of our lead, it could very well have been.
It’s not quite in the same likeness as the first two films. As the previous installments feel like gritty ’70s films, this one is definitely an ’80s one. Not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, it forces the film to take itself less seriously. We get great humorous bits from the tribe of kids.
And while the 2nd film (The Road Warrior) may be my favorite in the trilogy, this one just feels less dated. The action sequences are far more intricate and modern. The vehicle fights in The Road Warrior are much more static than the ones in this film.
But much of Beyond Thunderdome feels like a drawn-out spectacle that makes itself seem more important than it really is. The name of the film itself doesn’t really make much sense after watching the movie. I think they called it “Beyond Thunderdome” because it sounded cool. I guess “Beyond Bartertown” doesn’t really have the same intensity to it.
The thing these films have going for them the most is a likable lead. Gibson carries this series well. It’s going to be interesting seeing the new films without him at the helm.