Sunday, January 29, 2012

Doomsday 2012: Mad Max + Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Evidently, I'm not the only person celebrating the end of the world this year as American Cinematheque is having a monthly series focusing on the coming end times. Their first event was a triple feature of post-apocalyptic George Miller films with Mel Gibson as "Max" [I only stayed for parts one and two]. Gibson made an appearance for a lengthy Q and A that that I'll write a little bit about below. Future screenings in American Cinematheque's series will include such films as Planet of the Apes [the original first five will be screened!], Miracle Mile [which qualifies as a film for my Los Angeles Cinema AND Doomsday 2012!], A Boy and His Dog and many others. I have the sneaking suspicion I'll be at a fair amount of these.

Of the first two films in the four part series [a fourth film comes out in 2012 but it will not have Gibson as "Max," I'm not too sure of that myself], my favorite by a landslide is the second, dubbed The Road Warrior in America. I saw The Road Warrior before I saw Mad Max, and I bet that's pretty common in this country. In 1981, when the film came out, I was 12 and my father took me to see it at the Allred in Pryor, Oklahoma. From the first moment the action began to unfold, I was completely and utterly transfixed by the high-octane cars, the over-the-top mohawked and leather clad [with sun-burnt buttocks naked and exposed to extreme desert conditions] villains, the dark sense of humor, the violence, the nudity and pretty much everything about it. I loved this movie and watched it every couple of years throughout the 1980s. It's still one of my all-time favorite movies.

I saw Mad Max [1979] a year or two after I saw The Road Warrior and while it's a perfectly fine car-centric revenge film, it was just too silly, too low-budget and lacked the post-apocalyptic epic quality that I found in my beloved Road Warrior. I hadn't seen Mad Max since I was a kid before the screening at the Egyptian and after I watched them back to back, my opinion of the first one is the same. The Road Warrior is just a better movie in every regard--the cars are better, the action scenes are better, the villains are better, the story is better, you get the idea. It's better. Mad Max is just kind of goofy at times. While Road Warrior has some great bits of dark comedy and the villains are so deranged ["Wez" and "The Humongous" are two of the greatest movie villains to ever grace a screen], it was way more serious to me in the early 1980s and that feeling is the same as I watched the films back-to-back in 2012.

As I mentioned in the intro, Mel Gibson showed up between the two films for a thirty minute Q and A and lots of topics were covered. He's working with Randall Wallace [Braveheart screenwriter] on a new epic of violence connected to vikings called Berserker [when Gibson mentioned the title, there was rapturous moaning and applause in the audience]. He talked a lot about George Miller and said if the next Mad Max film was the same as the script he saw six years ago, it's going to be great [as I said earlier, I have my doubts]. He was asked about his troubled last few years and how he dealt with it. His response, and I'm paraphrasing here: "I'd wake up day after day and still be here, so after one morning just said to myself about getting back out there, 'what the f*ck.'" The crowd loved it. When Gibson was introduced and when he exited, roughly 70% of the crowd gave him a standing ovation, so he clearly still has his fans even after all the antics for the past few years. For the record, I clapped for him, but I did not stand up.

An added bonus to this event was the presence of a bunch of hard-core Mad Max fans, dressed in costume, wielding props and with appropriate haircuts. There was even a version of "The Interceptor" in the courtyard. Evidently, there is a yearly three-day event in the California desert that celebrates the post-apocalyptic vision of the film. Add Wasteland Weekend to the mix of oddball subcultures out there where people get together and geek out on their particular obsession. I love The Road Warrior and all, but I doubt I'll be heading out to the dessert, donning leather, a*s cheek baring chaps and getting into make believe fire fights and car chases with other fine people. Want to see some of the Wasteland Weekend? Check out the video below.

***If you are reading this post via e-mail, the imbedded video in this post might not work with your particular e-mail account. Click on the post title and you will be taken directly to CineRobot to view the video.***

1 comment:

hidden staircase said...

i first watched these on regular tv in the 80s (with commercials)and was strangely drawn to them...dark and weird and the pic of the villain you have there...whatever his character's name...freaked me out. unhinged and scary but with eyeliner and feathers on his shoulders!