lördag 14 februari 2015

MAD MAX ORIGINS: When Max went Mad

I hate cars. Really. Not only are they expensive to buy, they have a nasty habit of breaking down which means you need to take that shit to a mechanic. Who screws you over. And the gas. The.Fucking.Gas. The car drinks it. a lot. Which means more expenses.

These kind of problems are not really problems if you are an inhabitant of a post apocalyptic world where cars are a necessity for your survival and gasoline the big currency. It´s not a good time to be moping about gas prices then. Instead you murder any poor soul who has any.And take his. It´s a dog eat dog world. Oh..wait I am skipping ahead. Before there even were an apocalypse...there was...

Fuck yes. The groundbreaking carcrashing psycho fuck of a movie. The original ayatolla´ of car-flippin´-ova´. It is loud, obnoxious, weird, has the worst and most ridiculously over the top melodramatic musical score in history and the best car chases until The Road Warrior came along a few years later. Yes, the only flick that could beat this mutha at it´s own game was the sequel. But first we have an origin story to race through. How Max became Mad. And how Mel also became Mad long after he stopped being Max. No wait... Let´s skip that part.

Let´s be honest though. There are only two major car chases in it and although they are lengthy you kind of wish for more of the kinetic style director George Miller invented for this one. I also think the film would have benefitted from more of this:

This is the kind of outrageous cartoon wackiness that makes for an interesting contrast to the grim tone of the film. But I like the quirkiness of this one. It delivers quite a lot actually, from the badass introduction of Max Rockastansky to the car chases to suspenseful  and creepy Last House on the Left-type stalking at the end. Not to mention the colourful villains. Look at this guy:

You wouldn´t buy petrol from him.

The movie takes place right before the collapse of civilization. You can kinda tell in how they set things up. The roads are dangerous places. Well,  I guess they´ve always been, thanks to shitty  drunk drivers but NOW..they are..DANGEROUS!  The roads are infested with psychos who sniffed a lot more than glue before they started the engine. Also all cops, except Max can´t drive for shit.  I like it how the film introduces us slowly to Max, having him sit on the sidelines, listening in on the police radio how the other cops are faring in a high speed pursuit with a lunatic.We don´t see him fully until much later, only closeups on his sunglasses and when shit gets bad, Max realizes he needs to step in, puts on his driving gloves. (sophistication never hurts in a cynical violent world.) and takes care of business.

However the lunatic driver has friends. Lots of them and they are not happy so they declare war on the police and on Max. Max friend Goose bites the dust ( or at least becomes horribly disfigured. It´s not clear what) which makes Max question his career choice. He takes vacation and his family elsewhere where crazies with bad mohawks are sparse. However they are being tracked down  by the gang, Max ´s family gets run over which leads us to the title of the film. This is now Max becomes Mad Max. The film´s second carchase becomes the climax of the film and after the carnage only a single perp is left . Max chains the perps hand to a burning wreck, gives him a saw and tells him that he might have time to saw the hand off before the wreck explodes.

 *SPOILER* He doesn´t...

The barren backdrops gives the film a harsh,gritty Western-like look. It´s the same kind of savage lawless land the American west used to be. But with more Mel Gibson and less John Wayne. A good thing, I think.

First time I saw this, I was heavily disappointed. Why? Because I saw The Road Warrior first. And there fore didn´t like the original as much upon first viewing. It´s not fair though. How would you like it if you were the lesser successful of two brothers and when everyone else met you, hoping you were just as awesome  said "Dude, you kinda suck". Now,that´s not very nice,is it? Be nice, I say. Or shut the fuck up at least.

You could argue that the film has pacing issues. That after the initial carchase the film starts to drag a bit. The whole revenge aspect doesn´t come to full fruition until the last 20 minutes. But I kind of like
how we get to hang around with the creepy villainous weirdos that inhabits this pre-post-apocalyptic world before shit starts to hit the fan. And there is a fair amount of atmospheric tension and unease building up as the savage gang starts to stalk Max´s family.

It´s a low-budget film, but it delivers the same kind of thrashy exploitation that may leave a bad taste in your mouth if your not into this sort of flick.You might also find it kinda boring between the awesome bits. Personally I have grown fond of this first entry in the series which will continue later this year with less Mel Gibson but hopefully even more vehicular carnage.

In short Mad Max is a schlocky quirky movie that has plenty of rough edges to it. You could say that it´s the retarded little brother to The Road Warrior.  But that is not very nice.