I mentioned the other day how I went to the Aero theater to see The Great Escape. While I was walking in, I noticed a poster. Mad Max. I had just switched out my Mad Max ticket at Arclight for The Thing so I could go to a movie trivia night. I looked at it a little closer, and it turns out it would be the full original trilogy playing the next week. I Fandango-ed my ticket as soon as I sat down.
Sidebar: while I was sitting there, I noticed a slide on their display that showed Jake Gyllenhaal outside the theater for a Donnie Darko screening next to a picture of him in the movie leaving the movie theater. Because so much of the slide show was of different actors at special screenings, I didn’t think too much of it. I saw the same image before Mad Max. It wasn’t until I got home that it hit me. That was the theater! As in, the theater in the movie was the one I was sitting at!! I replayed the scene on YouTube and the first thing you see is the big Aero sign. And that’s def the same interior. I found this out 3 years to the day since I moved to LA. A major shooting location from my all time favorite live action movie was 15 minutes away from my apartment this whole time. I woulda been there on Day 1 if I’d known. I feel like every person I know in this city has failed me for not informing me sooner. Anyways, moving on.
Similar to what I’m pretty sure I said about The Thing and The Great Escape, I’d been in the room as all the Mad Max movies were playing, but I hadn’t paid much attention. Mea Culpa. I do know Fury Road pretty well, but that wasn’t on the menu that night. So for all intents and purposes, I was watching these for the first time. A friend had warned me that The Road Warrior was really the only one worth bothering with. And it did look like some people may have only showed up for that movie out of the triple feature. I enjoyed the whole ride. But yes, Road Warrior was def the best one.
The first movie took a while for me to get into. The early car chases looked good, but I wasn’t sure why I was supposed to care. Toecutter was a pretty great villain and I enjoyed his screen time. It wasn’t until about halfway thru the movie (when they go on that family vacation) that I started to get invested, and I very much enjoyed the second half of the movie. But overall, the whole thing was pretty thin. That’s okay tho, because in the grand scheme of cinema, it just set us up for the superior film: The Road Warrior
Where Mad Max was a bunch of chaos and thrown together action sequences, The Road Warrior was cohesive and intentional. Every sequence that happened had a purpose. They were all calculated and incredible to look at. The world building is also massively impressive. Mad Max was still in a fairly realistic world. Road Warrior is that post apocalyptic world we usually associate these movies with. The jump in time isn’t that great between the two films, but the jump in the setting was huge. Certainly an action classic that’s gonna endure.
I definitely overheard people talking about skipping Thunderdome. Hell, even the dude that intro-ed the triple feature said he thought he’d be the only one there. If I’m being completely honest, I momentarily considered it. I was already having trouble staying awake thru the end of Road Warrior. There’d be no way I’d power thru all of this movie, and if I left now, I’d get home at a decent hour. But I did have a vague memory of bits of the film from the previous watch (that we’ve alreaady said doesn’t count) and I enjoyed it. I like weird and bonkers. So I stayed. I think it coulda done with less weird and more bonkers.
I actually really did like the first half of Thunderdome. Tina Turner’s character is fantastic. The fight in the thunderdome is one of the best action sequences in the trilogy. And yes, it’s insane. But then we go beyond the thunderdome, and we find the weird desert Lord of the Flies kids. That’s where it lost me. I don’t know what was going on with those kids, but I just wanted to leave them behind in the wilderness and go back to Bartertown. I think if we’d had the full film set there, it woulda been a batshit masterpiece. Instead, it ends up just being weird and dull.
At this point, it was now nearly one AM. Thankfully, the drive back was short.