First Mad Mad, what's the appeal?

Urbanmx

Active Member
I just watched the first Mad Max, I am a fan of all the others and thought I was going to love this one too. It was not for me but it is a popular movie and has grossed a lot of money. I was wondering what the appeal of this movie is or was at the time?
 

ShowCraft

Well-Known Member
Mad Mad (sic) is one of my top ten films. From the cars, locations to the quirky - campy vision of the near future. I love the world this film is set in.
 

Solo4114

Master Member
I just watched the first Mad Max, I am a fan of all the others and thought I was going to love this one too. It was not for me but it is a popular movie and has grossed a lot of money. I was wondering what the appeal of this movie is or was at the time?
Can't speak for anyone else, but I enjoy it for a few reasons.

First, I really enjoy the story. It's radically different from all of the other entries in the franchise, but I enjoy it as its own thing. It's less a post-apocalyptic action flick, and more a slow-burning revenge thriller set alongside the gradual breakdown of society. And even though it's only 90 minutes long, the pacing of it is noticeably slower than the other films. The story, even at 90 minutes, ebbs and flows in terms of its action. Ultimately, though, I think that's necessary to do what it is the story's trying to do. Max is a badass cop, yeah, but he also has a family. Losing that family, along with the breakdown of law and order in society, the gradual erosion of the "social contract" leaves him a broken man who takes bloody revenge on those who wronged him.

Second, it has some AMAZING stuntwork in it, and -- considering the budget -- it has some truly amazing prop and costume design. Visually, it's really, really striking.


As far as its wider appeal, I think you have to kind of set it in its historical context. It came at a period in filmmaking where pacing in general was slower. Try and watch the original Dirty Harry, for example. It's SLOW. It doesn't even get to the pacing of, say, the original Lethal Weapon or Die Hard. These were slower, talkier movies that took time to build menace, establish their world, lay out who their characters were, etc. Also, at this point in time, at least in the US and maybe elsewhere, there was a real sense of needing to fight back against rampant crime. Mad Max isn't quite, say, Dirty Harry or Death Wish, but it does depict cops essentially "taking out" the most reprehensible members of society, who were almost always depicted as violent, dangerous lunatics. Often rapists and murderers. The only way to deal with them (or so we were shown) was brutally exterminating them.

I'd also say that, at least for its time, The Road Warrior was pretty graphically violent. The color of the blood, for example, was far darker than a lot of the squib blood you'd see in 1970s action flicks. You saw people get really horribly injured rather than just, you know, shot dead. Charlie getting hit in the throat, Goose's being burned alive, Jessie and Sprog being run down and left dying in the road, Max being shot in the knee and having his arm run over, Toecutter's run-in with a semi, etc. This stuff was all really violent.
 

Urbanmx

Active Member
Thank you, that all makes sense. I had a feeling that some of it's appeal was due to the time of it's release. I kept wondering where their kid was in some of those scenes, playing with gun in one, IDK when they are swimming, left under a tree by himself in another, he had no chance they kept a better eye on that dog.
 

SSgt Burton

Sr Member
Dan beat me to it about the pacing of the era. AND I was going to call it Australia's answer to "Dirty Harry." :D ;)

Perhaps also along the lines of "Taxi Driver" with the cathartic "bad guys get their's" climax.


Kevin
 

Probe Droid

Master Member
It's a terrible B drive-in flik. It looks cheap, the characters are ridiculous, and the acting stinks. The only good thing in it is the car.
 

dascoyne

Master Member
. Second, it has some AMAZING stuntwork in it, and -- considering the budget -- it has some truly amazing prop and costume design. Visually, it's really, really striking.
You said it for me. The stuntwork, camerawork and editing make it a classic. I love Mad Max just as much as I love The Road Warrior. As films set in the same universe they do seem to be cut from a slightly different cloth but both are great films.

Thunderdome is a film I'd rather forget, on the other hand.
 

jheilman

Sr Member
It's a terrible B drive-in flik. It looks cheap, the characters are ridiculous, and the acting stinks. The only good thing in it is the car.
Sorry, that's way too dismissive for this film. Road Warrior was clearly the far better film, but Mad Max was still an amazing film for 1979. It's a visceral revenge film on a slow burn. When it gets going, it really goes. It is a low-budg film, and that is evident. But what they did was fabulous. Max had more dimension here than in any of the sequels. This film made Mel Gibson a star. Sure, he's fallen in recent years, but, no Mad Mad, very likely no Lethal Weapon. The kinetic action sequences were amazing for the time. It's a mistake to view past films through the lens of today. As has been said, they need to be viewed through the window of history. I remember watching Max with my buddies on cable in the early 80s. It was awesome to all of us.
 

Zombie_61

Master Member
It's a terrible B drive-in flik. It looks cheap, the characters are ridiculous, and the acting stinks. The only good thing in it is the car.
Despite all of the fan love for Mad Max, I agree with you (though I'm not so sure about the car). After a friend recommended it back in 1979, my wife and I went to see it (she was my girlfriend at the time). After 30 minutes we decided doing anything else would be better than watching the rest of the movie. Years later I did give it a second chance and watched it from start to finish, and my opinion didn't change.

That being said, there have been quite a few popular movies over the years that I didn't care for, but I could understand why other people liked them. With Mad Max, I have absolutely no idea why anyone thinks it's a good movie; it's sincerely one of the worst movies I've ever seen.
 

robn1

Master Member
This is an example of where my tastes run opposite of popular opinion. I liked the original Mad Max for the low budget thriller it was. I hated Road Warrior, I thought it sucked balls, and never bothered with the others.
 

Krull

Sr Member
I enjoy Mad Max,never,ever will I be able to understand why or what made Road Warrior I always felt the thing went crazy because of budget-no city shooting it's all in the outback so all the cash went to cars and crazy costumes....or that's just what the guy wanted from the beginning,who knows?

I'd have preferred a more slow spiral down into anarchy,with the MFP fighting to the end and then a slow climb back up if you took a bit of Robocop and mixed it in to Mad Max I think it would have been more fun,stay in the city and maybe show patrols into the wastes and how mad it gets.

Overall I like Mad Max and just forget the others ever happened.....
 

RogueTrooper

Well-Known Member
It's one of those classic movies where the sequel is better than the first movie....but the original sets the tone.

I doubt if any of the films would have been successful without Mel Gibson, his screen presence is definitive.

I have not seen Fury Road....so I can't comment about that.....everyone seems to love it...I have my doubts......
 

dascoyne

Master Member
I think a lot of people first saw The Road Warrior but were disappointed when they later watched Mad Max expecting a similar movie.

The first two films are really action-car chase movies in an apocalyptic sci-fi setting with Mad Max much closer to the car chase genre and The Road Warrior much closer to the apocalyptic sci-fi genre.

Mad Max as a chase movie in the vein of Vanishing Point or Bullitt is a superb movie.
 

Solo4114

Master Member
It's a terrible B drive-in flik. It looks cheap, the characters are ridiculous, and the acting stinks. The only good thing in it is the car.
Sorry, that's way too dismissive for this film. Road Warrior was clearly the far better film, but Mad Max was still an amazing film for 1979. It's a visceral revenge film on a slow burn. When it gets going, it really goes. It is a low-budg film, and that is evident. But what they did was fabulous. Max had more dimension here than in any of the sequels. This film made Mel Gibson a star. Sure, he's fallen in recent years, but, no Mad Mad, very likely no Lethal Weapon. The kinetic action sequences were amazing for the time. It's a mistake to view past films through the lens of today. As has been said, they need to be viewed through the window of history. I remember watching Max with my buddies on cable in the early 80s. It was awesome to all of us.
Yeah, I'm more in line with this view. Of course it's a B-movie with no budget. That's the point. It's like El Mariachi in that respect. They did amazing stuff with a very limited budget. If you go in expecting a huge extravaganza, you're gonna be disappointed. But for what it is -- which, again, I concede is a B-movie -- it's really, really good.

That said, if that style of film isn't your thing, I can understand not liking it. I can also understand modern audiences finding it hard to connect with, especially in comparison to its sequels. It has a very, very different "vibe" to it.

Despite all of the fan love for Mad Max, I agree with you (though I'm not so sure about the car). After a friend recommended it back in 1979, my wife and I went to see it (she was my girlfriend at the time). After 30 minutes we decided doing anything else would be better than watching the rest of the movie. Years later I did give it a second chance and watched it from start to finish, and my opinion didn't change.

That being said, there have been quite a few popular movies over the years that I didn't care for, but I could understand why other people liked them. With Mad Max, I have absolutely no idea why anyone thinks it's a good movie; it's sincerely one of the worst movies I've ever seen.
Then you must not have seen too many bad movies. Seriously, man, there are WAY worse films out there. Anything affiliated with the name "Uwe Boll," for example, most of Michael Bay's oeuvre, almost any movie that ever appeared on MST3K, etc., etc., etc.

I dunno. I can understand not enjoying the film, or finding it dull, or just not finding that style of film to be particularly engaging. But for what it is, for the budget they had, it's actually pretty well made. Try watching, say, the original Gone in 60 Seconds, which has WAY worse acting, and is (in my opinion) far less engaging story-wise, and constructed in a far more haphazard way. Its stuntwork is top-notch, but otherwise, it's really not a very well made film.

I think a lot of people first saw The Road Warrior but were disappointed when they later watched Mad Max expecting a similar movie.

The first two films are really action-car chase movies in an apocalyptic sci-fi setting with Mad Max much closer to the car chase genre and The Road Warrior much closer to the apocalyptic sci-fi genre.

Mad Max as a chase movie in the vein of Vanishing Point or Bullitt is a superb movie.
I see it as a mix of two genres, actually. It mixes the "rogue cop/revenge thriller" genre (e.g. Dirty Harry, Death Wish) with the "road movie/car chase movie" genre.

In terms of its pacing and such, I do find it similar to films like Vanishing Point or Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. Although, those two films involve some existentialist aspects in the background, which is less addressed in Mad Max. I find Bullit to be...more of a "proto" car-chase film. The story isn't built around the chase, but the chase features prominently. Kinda like The French Connection. By contrast, Vanishing Point and Gone in 60 Seconds are DEFINITELY about the chase.


Anyway, if you watch films in the "car chase" genre, most of them are shot this way, most were low-budget, and not all were of the same quality. Some are better than others, some are just pure exploitation flicks. I think the original Mad Max is one of the better entries into that genre, but I can also understand why it's not everyone's cup of tea.

The Road Warrior, on the other hand, is just so damn visually engaging that I don't get how someone would dislike it. The only way that'd make sense is if they've literally never seen it, and are only now coming to it after watching all the other movies that have evolved from it. Like, someone watching, say, the original Star Wars and finding it dull with cheesy f/x, without understanding its role in cinema.
 

Axlotl

Master Member
It's funny - as obsessed as I was as a kid with the Interceptor, I never really considered Mad Max a car-chase movie.
I always saw it in sort of the same vein as "Lawrence of Arabia" - kind of peering into a microscope to watch a man slowly being pushed to the breaking point.
Max was cool as Han Solo in 1979. I even made myself a Mad Max costume and wore it to school on Halloween.
 

Jeyl

Master Member
It's an odd movie, I'll say that much. Nothing bad, just not a whole lot of right. The real quality killer for me is the music. It's not only all over the place but the sweet romantic piece that plays during the ending credits is just jarring. I laughed out loud when SHOUT Factory used that bit of music for their BluRay menu. The work Brian May did for Mad Max 2 was night and day compared to his outing with Mad Max.
 

Probe Droid

Master Member
They did amazing stuff with a very limited budget.
That's only in terms of chases and stunts, which only constitute one aspect of the film. Characterization and story don't cost anything and the lowest of low-budget films can have them, but this one's attempts don't get very far (although I'll give it points for trying). If you want to like it that's perfectly fine, I've seen it numerous times and enjoy it for what it's worth, but don't claim it's more than it is. If Mel Gibson didn't become a star this film would have been tossed into the dustbin on top of a slew of '60s biker schlock.
 

dascoyne

Master Member
I see it as a mix of two genres, actually. It mixes the "rogue cop/revenge thriller" genre (e.g. Dirty Harry, Death Wish) with the "road movie/car chase movie" genre.

In terms of its pacing and such, I do find it similar to films like Vanishing Point or Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. Although, those two films involve some existentialist aspects in the background, which is less addressed in Mad Max. I find Bullit to be...more of a "proto" car-chase film. The story isn't built around the chase, but the chase features prominently. Kinda like The French Connection. By contrast, Vanishing Point and Gone in 60 Seconds are DEFINITELY about the chase.


Anyway, if you watch films in the "car chase" genre, most of them are shot this way, most were low-budget, and not all were of the same quality. Some are better than others, some are just pure exploitation flicks. I think the original Mad Max is one of the better entries into that genre, but I can also understand why it's not everyone's cup of tea.

The Road Warrior, on the other hand, is just so damn visually engaging that I don't get how someone would dislike it. The only way that'd make sense is if they've literally never seen it, and are only now coming to it after watching all the other movies that have evolved from it. Like, someone watching, say, the original Star Wars and finding it dull with cheesy f/x, without understanding its role in cinema.
Most "car chase" films do straddle genres. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry was partly a heist movie. Duel was a suspense film. Bullitt was a cop movie. Mad Max was, like you said, a cop/revenge thriller ... with only enough post-apocalyptic sci-fi to justify some of the dramatic situations.

Gosh, I'm going to watch Mad Max again.
 
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