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Mad Max Trilogy (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: 1979, 1982, 1985
MPAA Rating: R, PG-13
Feature running time: 93, 95, 107 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): Australian English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish/French, Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner
Directed by: George Miller & George Ogilvie
Music by: Maurice Jarre, Brian May
Written by: George Miller, Terry Haynes
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 4, 2013

"In the not too distant future…."

Film Synopsis:

The three films – Mad Max (1979), Mad Max Road Warrior (1982) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – are all set in the near-future in Australia. From the very first film, Oscar® winner George Miller (Happy Feet, 2006) proved a master at creating the gritty, bleak dystopian world and staging the incredible car stunts and crashes in the era when stuntmen, not computers, achieved the effects. All three movies starred Mel Gibson, virtually unknown until after the second film, as Max Rockatansky, a highway cop traveling through the Outback in a society descending into chaos.

My Take:

Mad Max: George Miller's first entry in the trilogy, Mad Max packs brutal action and insane stunts as it follows the inevitable downfall of relentless cop Max Rockatansky (Gibson) in a world gone mad. Living on the edge of an apocalypse, Max is ready to run far away from it all with his family. But when he experiences an unfortunate encounter with a motorcycle gang and its menacing leader, the Toecutter, his retreat from the madness of the world is now a race to save his family's life.

Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior: The sequel to Mad Max, Mad Max Road Warrior provides action-packed, “automotive” entertainment, telling the story of a selfish-turned-selfless hero and his efforts to protect a small camp of desert survivors and defend an oil refinery under siege from a ferocious marauding horde that plunders the land for gasoline.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Mel Gibson returns for his third go-round as the title hero who takes on the barbarians of the post-nuclear future - and this time becomes the savior of a tribe of lost children. Music superstar Tina Turner co-stars as Aunty Entity, a power-mad dominatrix determined to use Max to tighten her stranglehold on Bartertown, where fresh water, clean food and gasoline are worth more than gold.

I am a fan of the Mad Max film series although Mad Max beyond Thunderdome leaves a bit to be desired. I saw The Road Warrior in the theater and was instantly a fan. I didn’t see Mad Max until later on home video and really enjoyed it as well. The post apocalyptic/dystopian themed action film was new to me and I loved the gritty edge and fervent pacing of the Road Warrior. The idea of this future based shadowy anti-hero with a transcendent he who walks alone persona was just plain cool and Mel Gibson’s take on the characters solidified it.

The Road Warrior is my favorite probably because it made the biggest impression on me in terms of introducing the character and its sledge hammer style of storytelling. I love the stunt work in the first two films especially the high octane chase sequences which are underscored by David Eggby’s marvelous cinematography. I enjoy Mad Max’s deeper narrative which has a bit more drama to go along with its edgy theme and better character development. The series could have and should have ended with The Road Warrior/Mad Max 2. Mad Max beyond Thunderdome on its own isn’t a terrible film however compared to the first two it seems like a needless addition with cheesy narrative elements that water down the vibe of Mad Max lore. Looking at it strictly as a stand alone action piece from the era makes it better and in the long run more fun I suppose.

Regardless you’d be hard pressed to find a bad film in the series which is why it has obtained such a following. The Mad Max Trilogy kick started Mel Gibson’s career and although his star has diminished he as amassed a body of work that has given us a cache of films that keep on entertaining.

The three disc set comes packaged in a standard amaray style case and for a limited time includes a premium packaging tin that houses the case (see below). The June 4th release day coincides nicely with Father’s Day and makes for a gift idea for the Mad Max Fan in your family.

Here are my ratings of each of the films individually which is reflected in the combined rating at the top of this review:

Mad Max: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

The Road Warrior: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373699

Parental Guide:

The ratings are for violence, language, partial nudity and sexual content.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 80

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

The Mad Max Trilogy comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

Mad Max has an average video bit rate of 35 Mbps, Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior has an average video bitrate of 23 Mbps and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome has an average video bitrate of 33 Mbps.

Mad Max and Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior have an average audio bitrate of 2.2 Mbps and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome has an average audio bitrate of 2.5 Mbps.

These high definition presentations offer satisfying image quality that presents each of them in a positive light. Overall fidelity appears intact and while some look better than others the variations aren’t such that it makes for a marked difference that negatively impacts the quality of the collection as a whole. In examining the quality of the source prints these are primarily in good condition. Grain is intact throughout and appears to be undisturbed. Rendering is occasionally inconsistent however this isn’t attributable to the encoding and rarely rose to an objectionable level. I was impressed with the reproduction of fleshtones as complexions have good tonal depth, delineated highlights and lifelike texture. Color balance overall is excellent as both primary and secondary colors are cleanly rendered with a pleasing level of saturation and vividness where appropriate. It should be noted that the color timing of Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior is different from early home video releases on DVD/Laser Disc however this was the case with previously released high definition versions. While it is different I don’t see it as problematic in terms of overall fidelity unless making a direct comparison.

Blacks appear punchy with appreciable dynamic range that makes them pop while onscreen with both light and dark elements. Resolution and clarity is estimable although sharpness can be a bit inconsistent, this especially notable in the first two films. In most instances this appears innate and rarely infringes upon the perceivable fidelity of these presentations which make it less glaring. Shadow detail isn’t always definitive but depth of field and low level transitions are generally perceivable which supplements dimension. I didn’t see any signs of the application of unwanted noise reduction or excessive manipulation. Images are well resolved with discernible definition and fair rendering of fine detail during close up and mid level camera pans.

I noticed some low level background noise in The Road Warrior and minor print damage in Mad Max but otherwise saw no obvious signs of video related artifacts. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is the best looking of the three although quite frankly all of these films translate well to high definition which allows fans the opportunity to see them in a whole new light.

The Road Warrior and Mad Max seem to have been minted from the same master as the original releases (2007 and 2010 respectively) and Beyond Thunderdome is making its high definition debut.

As I pointed out I essentially found that Mad Max and The Road Warrior vary little in terms of video quality, while Beyond Thunderdome offers deeper image penetration with no noteworthy issues. As such my rating for the first two films is the same while the third film’s rating is separate.

Mad Max & Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior:

Video rating = 82

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:

Video rating = 86

In listening to Mad Max, the DTS-HD lossless soundtracks made the most of the source elements present in its 30 plus year old/budget recording. Dialogue is crisp, well intonated and mixed to a prominent position within the front soundstage. Sound effects and panning sequences emanating from the main channels are well integrated with discernible separation and fair sound field penetration. The eclectic music score and effects don’t have the quantifiable depth and dynamics that you might find with today’s digital recordings but they exert tangible influence with discernible clarity. There is no subterranean bass contained here however low frequency presence is detectable where appropriate. The surround channels are used for ambient spatial cues but rarely create an enriching level of envelopment.

Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior features a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio encoding containing the same 5.1 channel surround mix that has been previous used. The DTS-HD Master Audio mix presents this soundtrack’s elements quite nicely. There is plenty of spoken dialogue in the film but it contains a variety of sounds and music that benefit from the high resolution afforded by lossless sound. The recording sounds one dimensional and dated but refined and dynamically supported. There are moments where there is no dialogue and the only auditory used to propel the story, are the music and/or a series of sounds. They are cleanly reproduced and free from strident highs or an edgy mid range. The front soundstage is narrow but opens up nicely during several sequences. There isn’t much in the way of active surround sound or deep low frequency effects but the application of supportive rear channel ambience and punchy bass adds an enriching element that enhances the presentation. It’s not a perfect audio mix but I found it enjoyable.

Being the newest film of the three I found the 5.1 channel lossless surround mix in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome to sound the best. The front three channels are nicely imaged and carry discretely placed sounds with primary focus on the center channel and ambient bleed to the right/left speakers. Maurice Jarre’s music score is spread to the rear channels and broadens the sound field creating a discernible level of presence. Clarity and detail are excellent which pays dividends during the film’s active and quieter moments which feature a fair level of atmospheric surround envelopment. Bass frequencies don’t rattle the walls, but emphasizes the strength of weapon fire and explosions where appropriate. My overall impression of this audio presentation is favorable as it enhanced the enjoyment of the film.

Mad Max:

Audio rating = 76

Mad Max2/The Road Warrior:

Audio rating = 80

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:

Audio rating = 84

Bonus Features:

  • Mad Max

  • Audio commentary by Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray and Tim Ridge

  • Mad Max: The film phenomenon 25 minute documentary

  • Theatrical trailers 1 & 2

  • Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior

  • Introduction by Leonard Maltin

  • Audio commentary by George Miller & Dean Semier

  • Theatrical trailer

  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

  • Theatrical trailer

Final Thoughts:

As a fan of the Mad Max film series I am pleased that all have now been released on Blu-ray in this Mad Max Trilogy set which comes from Warner Home Video featuring gratifying high definition video, complimentary lossless surround mixes and other than a decent documentary/pair of filmmaker audio commentaries contains a noticeably lacking supplemental package. Regardless it makes for a worthy addition to the collection of fans that don’t yet own these films on Blu-ray. For those that do each, including Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, is available separately. Enjoy!


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
post #2 of 10
Out of all the mad max movies the road warrior is the best. Didn't care for thunder dome...I also like millers first kids movie babe and the first happy feet...what will millers next movie be?
post #3 of 10
These titles have been available before on blu ray. Are these the same transfers as yesteryear or are they remastered in any way? I don't want to get these if they are the same old transfers from years ago (like the Die Hard collections on blu ray).
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by montybritton View Post

These titles have been available before on blu ray. Are these the same transfers as yesteryear or are they remastered in any way? I don't want to get these if they are the same old transfers from years ago (like the Die Hard collections on blu ray).


The Road Warrior is minted from the same master. Mad Max is the same as the 2010 Blu-ray and Beyond Thunderdome is making its debut in high definition.

post #5 of 10
Thanks for the great review Ralph! Man I loved these movies as a kid but havnt seem them for years. Looking forward to picking up this trilogy.
post #6 of 10
Tough trilogy to review. Great job doing so and delineating the differences!
post #7 of 10
This is (BD) the best that I have ever seen Beyond Thunderdome. It was in my first batch of DVD ➔ UV (VUDU HDX) titles and what a disappointment that was, Beyond Thunderdome (2.35 on DVD) was cropped and zoomed to 1.85 in the UV version.

I really wish the studios would provide the original Dolby Stereo on these older titles so we could process the soundtrack with our audio processors (for me a Onkyo PR-SC5508P). I will say this 5.1 DTS MA track was quite good.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Wendell R. Breland View Post

This is (BD) the best that I have ever seen Beyond Thunderdome. It was in my first batch of DVD ➔ UV (VUDU HDX) titles and what a disappointment that was, Beyond Thunderdome (2.35 on DVD) was cropped and zoomed to 1.85 in the UV version.

I really wish the studios would provide the original Dolby Stereo on these older titles so we could process the soundtrack with our audio processors (for me a Onkyo PR-SC5508P). I will say this 5.1 DTS MA track was quite good.


Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts Wendell. smile.gif

post #9 of 10
I went and bought this over the Holidays (for about 10 bucks! Not the steelbook, just regular amaray, but new!) and have yet to see Thunderdome. I had high hopes for this trilogy and my 19-yr-old son was also really interested as he'd heard hype regarding Mad Max lore in upcoming videogame productions. We sat and watched parts I & II back-to-back one vacation night and I have to say it was...fun. Although he didn't really seem to be into any of it, he did sit through the double-feature willingly, so that says a lot. I too admit I chuckled at the outdatedness of it all. tongue.gif That said, I did enjoy part I's original Aussie audiotrack--the version I'd seen was naturally the American-English dubbed version (and edited for TV eek.gif).

I do find it important for people--especially newer generations--to remember which movies we have to thank for the good stuff we get nowadays.

Reading through this thread, I now want to see part III if only for the audio quality and that now cheesy 80's Tina Turner song... Let's see if I can get my son to join me this time! biggrin.gif
post #10 of 10

Beyond Thunderdome is arguably the most kid-friendly of the set. I haven't seen the first film on BD yet, but IMO, the PQ on Thunderdome is not as good as Road Warrior. So I'm a little surprised Ralph rated it higher than the other two, because I usually tend to agree with his assessments.

I own the separate 2013 releases btw, which I assume are the same as this boxset.

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