Mad Max

WSR Score5
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Warner Home Video
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George Miller
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Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 1.0, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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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: Mad Max Rockatansky (Gibson). 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! Inspiring two sequels (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome), this 1979 classic took road rage to a new level. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary by Art Director Jon Dowding, Director of Photography David Eggby, Special Effects Supervisor Chris Murray, and Film Historian Tim Ridge; the featurette Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon, which provides a good overview of the original production (HD 25:35); and four trailers.

In Issue 57 MGM released a Special Edition, which far surpassed the rather mediocre-quality version released earlier by Orion (through Image Entertainment). The anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 MGM DVD exhibited a clean, nicely defined picture, when compared to the previously released non-anamorphic 2.40:1 DVD. The non-anamorphic Orion DVD picture looked dated, with muddy colors and low contrast, soft images, and was riddled with artifacts, aliasing problems, and moiré. The MGM DVD exhibited more subtle, natural colors that appeared well balanced. Fleshtones appeared generally natural, and blacks were deep and solid. While many scenes were soft or slightly hazy, detail was satisfying overall. Contrast was nicely balanced, but visual information tended to get lost in the darker scenes. The picture was considerably cleaner than the previous release, with less noise and grain, but fine detail remained intact. The source element was revealing of some dirt and film grain. While edge enhancement was a major problem on the non-anamorphic DVD, the MGM version was virtually free of its distraction. Considering the film's age and extreme low-budget production, the MGM Blu-ray Disc™ 1080p AVC presentation reviewed in Issue 157 was faithful to the Todd-AO 35 anamorphic master, exceeding all other releases in clarity and fine detail. Resolution was impressive, especially revealing in facial features and object textures, when viewed in close-ups. The picture retained a raw, edgy visual quality, with excellent contrast, strong black levels, and revealing shadow delineation. Hues were nicely saturated, with bright orange explosions and lush greens, yellows, and reds. Fleshtones were perfectly natural in tone. Still there were some noticeable print artifacts and white flecks, but overall this was an impressive visual experience that preserved the cinematic quality of the film. The latest Blu-ray Disc release in the Mad Max Trilogy appears to the be same 2.34:1 AVC-encode and exhibits the film's clarity and fine detail. The color palette is strongly saturated with warm, natural fleshtones exhibited throughout. The contrast between the often-bleak Australian outback landscape and the vivid yellow/orange police interceptors and other vehicles is dramatic. While some print damage is apparent, the overall presentation has never looked better. This is a raw classic that will please fans. (Gary Reber)

The 2002 MGM DVD featured a remastered Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack. The 1997 Orion Home Video release had Dolby Digital 1.0 audio, with the dialogue re-dubbed with American-accented voices, including Mel Gibson's "Americanized" English (which is the version that played theatrically in the U.S. in 1979). The Blu-ray Disc presentation reviewed in Issue 57 included the "Australian" mono as well as English-dubbed "American" mono original tracks, as does this new release in the "Trilogy" set. The 1.0 audio exhibits the original recording's dated fidelity characteristics and is also prone to distortion. The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack, while still feebly stereophonic, being mono-centric throughout, manages at times to present a spacious soundfield. Still, the sense of spaciousness is modest. Occasionally, though, some directionality can be noticed across the screen and into the surrounds, mainly associated with loud, panned souped-up cars and motorcycles. Deep bass tends to be constrained, in keeping with the dated, mono audio, but there are some low-frequency instances, along with .1 LFE activity. The music score is richly orchestrated and serviceable but limited in fidelity and dynamics. Dialogue is natural sounding, but at times drowned out and muffled by loud sounds. Overall, this is a decent remastering effort and the best that the soundtrack has ever sounded. (Gary Reber).