Monday, March 21, 2016

Movie Monday – Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)


This movie starts with Max going across the desert in his camel drawn truck/wagon when he’s knock over by Jedediah and his son in a plane.  They steal his stuff and go off, with Max’s monkey throwing a few supplies out for him.

Max follows them to Bartertown.  His quickness with a gun leads to a meeting with Aunty who started Bartertown.  She hires Max to kill a guy, without it being known that Aunty ordered it.  In exchange, he’ll get all his stuff back.

The man they need killed is Blaster.  He is a big guy with a metal hood.  He carries Master – a smart, little person – on his back.  Together, Master Blaster run the pig farm/methane plant that powers Bartertown.  Max works in the factory to get a closer look at Blaster, and discovers he doesn’t like loud noises, like whistles.

The way he has to kill Blaster is in the Thunderdome.  This is a metal cage where “Two men enter; one man leaves.” They fight, and Max – with his whistle – finally gets the upper hand.  He knocks off Blaster’s hood revealing a mentally disabled boy.  Max tells Aunty that wasn’t part of the deal.  Her goons kill Blaster, and then since Max went back on a deal – one of the laws of Bartertown – he spins the wheel of punishment.  He gets “Gulag,” which means he’s tied to a horse and sent off into the desert.

The horse eventually dies and falls into a sand sinkhole.  Max probably would have died if a guy he met at the factory didn’t send his monkey out with a waterskin. 

Max walks further into the desert and passes out.  He’s found by Savannah, who takes him back to her village in a canyon oasis.  When he wakes up, he is told the story of how they got there.  During the nuclear war, a plane crashed in the desert and the survivors found the oasis and decided to stay.  But after a few years, the adults left their kids to go find civilization, saying someone would be back.  They think Max is the promised return of Captain Walker.  He tells them he isn’t.  Some believe him, but others – led by Savannah – think it’s all a test so they go out to find civilization.

The other kids ask Max to bring them back.  He and a few others set out and rescue some of the kids from one of these sand sinkholes.  They then realize that they are near Bartertown.  So they sneak into the factory to grab Master, because he’s smart enough to help them rebuild society.  Max and the kids take out Aunty’s guards who are holding him, and make a break for it in this truck train that runs on this old railway track.

Aunty gets all her dune buggies to go chasing after them to get Master back, because he’s the only one that can fix the factory and keep the lights on in Bartertown. 

The truck train has to eventually stop because Jedediah’s son has blocked the track as a holdup.  But he runs away when he sees Aunty’s troops.  Max and gang follow him into Jedediah’s underground bunker.  They all get on the plane to fly away, but they need room to take off.  So Max gets in a car and plays chicken with Aunty’s troops.  Everyone else flies off, but Max is left for Aunty, who laughs and leaves him.

Jedediah flies the kids to the ruins of Sydney, where they start to rebuild.  And they leave lights on to guide wanderers – like Max – to them.


Unlike the other movies I’ve reviewed for my Movie Mondays, I’ve actually seen this one before.  It was probably twenty years ago, at least, since I saw it last, but there were a few things I remembered such as Master Blaster and that there were a bunch of kids. 

Over the years, I had heard that a lot of the Mad Max fans find Beyond Thunderdome their least favorite.  Now that I’ve seen all four, I’d probably rank it third, just above the first one.  (Given that I find the second my second favorite, can you guess where I rank Fury Road?)  I go with the general consensus that the Bartertown stuff was good, but the stuff with the kids was just … kind of stupid.  On one hand I can see it as an interesting setup, but it either needed a movie on its own to explore it more, or fit in with Bartertown more.  As it is, it’s practically two movies smooshed together.  If instead of the kids, Max had ran into some anti-Aunty faction wanting to take down Bartertown, it would have been a more cohesive movie.

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