I love the brothers named Warner. If it were up to me, I would settle down and marry them, and keep my marriage to my wife. Warner does more to proactively suit the needs of the DVD fan than any other studio out there. And by putting out a version of The Road Warrior with some extras to trump the crappy barebones release, I’m putting the offer of marriage out there now for the world (and the wife) to see.
For those unfamiliar with the story, The Road Warrior was the sequel …o Mad Max, a character developed by George Miller (Happy Feet) and starring a relatively unheard of Australian named Mel Gibson. Gibson plays Max, who in the first film was a young police officer who was avenging the death of his wife and child at the hands of some motorcycle ruffians. And in The Road Warrior, the landscape changes to one of a post-apocalyptic wasteland of sorts, where gas is at a premium, so much so that people are willing to do anything to acquire it. Max quietly goes into the wasteland, but runs into a compound where gas is continually mined among a group of outsiders. The ruffians from the first film are still here, but are slightly mutated and replaced by a muscular masked man named Humongous, and a mohawked guy who menaces the crap out of everyone (Vernon Wells, Weird Science).
So what the hell is it that makes people still enjoy and appreciate The Road Warrior after all these years? Well, the element of car porn is nice. Getting the chance to drive flat out as far as you possibly can is a cool notion. The idea of protecting the gas is kind of blah, but put it in the context of a child’s fort, protecting their valuables from the bad guys? Then it has a little more resonance. Plus it has the right mix of action and humor that makes for an enjoyable ride. Don’t take it so seriously, it sure doesn’t.
Go figure, there’s a Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 soundtrack for this film, and it actually sounds not too bad. It’s not immersing or anything like that, but when the compound blows up, you get some subwoofer activity, there’s the occasional speaker panning, and everything is pretty clear throughout the film.
I was almost going to cause a minor revolt when I saw the early scenes come up in non-anamorphic, but thankfully I was talked off the edge when I found out it was just the introduction. It was cool to see the film with its original introduction titles (Mad Max 2, cool!), but the 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer for the film is quite the surprise. In watching other incarnations, you could feel the dust and dirt of the outback. Thatï¿½s still the case now, but you also get a little bit more green landscapes than I remember. The image is as sharp as itï¿½s going to be for one shot in the outback a quarter century ago.
The big bonus for HD or BD buyers is the inclusion of a commentary with Miller and Cinematographer Dean Semler. They definitely haven’t seen the film in awhile and their reminiscing is quite fun, but it’s a little more focused on the technical side of the production without any real information or anecdotes. There are some gaps of silence, but nothing that I’d hold over their heads. Leonard Maltin contributes an introduction that I could have done without, and the trailer rounds it all out.
From a lackluster SD release comes one where the technical merits are surprisingly good, but the commentary is one commentary more than on the SD version. And since thereï¿½s probably no chance of Mel coming back to revisit his early stuff any time soon, go buy this thing already, you’ll thank me later.
Special Features List
- Director/Cinematographer Commentary