The first film introduces future cop Mad Max Rockatansky and director George Miller’s violent, pedal-to-the-metal world of carmageddon. Its chase sequences are as exciting as anything the action genre had seen, and they still hold up because their influence is ever-present. While Max’s family life slows the middle, it fuels a bang-up final act of revenge.
Despite being more grim, The Road Warrior is slightly better by bringing humor into the desolation. Beyond Thunderdome, in contrast, overdoes it by throwing in a little person, a hunchback, a monkey, a View-Master and Tina Turner, thereby becoming a live-action issue of Heavy Metal magazine. Bonus points are awarded for its gladiatorial games, then rescinded for an extended riff on Peter Pan.
For a high-def set, extras are slim and from pre-existing DVDs, but if you never bought those, this is the edition to get. Or await the inevitable one that will follow next year’s long-awaited, Gibson-less Mad Max: Fury Road. —Rod Lott