Ranking the Mad Max Films From Worst to First
Mad Max: Fury Road sped into theaters last week and collectively blew the minds of everyone that went to see it. It truly is an amazing action movie that is both full of insane stunts and explosions, as well as strong female characters, which many probably didn’t expect to see in a Mad Max movie. After watching it twice during its opening weekend (yes it’s worth it, read my review), as well as revising the three original movies in digital HD, I now feel the need to rank the four films from the worst to the best, not that a Mad Max film can be garbage, but a few are definitely heads and tails above the others.
More modern filming techniques and bigger budgets definitely had an affect on the films released after the original, which does play into my rankings, because the first is pretty bare bones, but this list is mainly ordered based on my personal preferences after watching each Mad Max flick during last weekend’s Mad Max-a-polooza in my poor man’s home theater.
Head on down below to find out which of the four Mad Max movies took the top spot, as well as which one finished last. When you’re done make sure to go and see Mad Max: Fury Road a few more times for good measure!
4) Mad Max
The original Mad Max from 1979 definitely shows its age today, and the fact that Miller and his team had something like $3,000 to shoot the film. Even though it kickstarted the Mad Max franchise it doesn’t feel like a Mad Max movie if you watched either of the two 80’s entries before it. The stunt driving is still pretty intense, and you get to see the birth of “Mad Max,” but the rural town setting and skimpy plot just don’t exude the feeling of humans living in a wasteland like the three films released after it. It just has an all around campy B-movie feel, but it’s still worth a viewing to give some perspective into the character of Max, and what ultimately drove him mad and off to the wastelands of Australia.
3) Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Thunderdome was my first introduction to the character and world of Mad Max, so it will always have a special place in my heart. I really struggled with where to rank this film because of my fondness for it, but after watching all four films it’s clearly the third best, although I would definitely be OK if it were in the number two spot.
Thunderdome features the best soundtrack in the franchise courtesy of Tina Turner, as well as some of its most memorable lines and scenes. The Thunderdome battle between Max and Blaster is iconic thanks to the “Two men enter, one man leaves” chant, and the insane bungie cord action that is complimented with chainsaws, pikes, and massive steel hammers. The final train/war party chase scene is also pretty excellent, and even has a few funny moments featuring the main bad guy and his awesome mask with long hair head piece.
Max is also a bit more humanized in this entry thanks to the inclusion of a young cast to portray the band of children left to fend for themselves after their plane crashed trying to escape the nuclear fallout, who he begrudgingly helps at first, and eventually saves at the expense of his own seat on a plane to a better place. If anything, this Mad Max film is the best at portraying the caring side of Max, who for all of his madness, still believes in doing what’s right in a world full of lunatics.
2) Mad Max: The Road Warrior
I’m ashamed to admit that the first time I saw this Mad Max film in full was last weekend during Fury Road’s opening, but my pop culture life now feels complete for doing so. The Road Warrior truly defines the look and feel of the Mad Max universe as we all know it today, and it did a fantastic job of building upon the lore of the character after the lackluster original film. Max feels like Mad Max in this entry. His padded interceptor jacket is worn out and broken in, his iconic black whip from the original looks like a vehicle that only travels the wasteland, and he even has a dog that can hold prisoners at bay with a double barreled shotgun.
The character of Max shines in this entry, and he once again proves that deep down he really is a nice guy that still cares about sticking up for the weak and mistreated even though he tries to come off as a loner. The supporting cast is also highly memorable, especially the mullet sporting little kid who has a boomerang of death, and the gang of marauders led by Lord Humungus who all like to wear fetish gear for clothes. This film defined the character and world of Mad Max, which is why it comes in as the runner up on this list.
1) Mad Max: Fury Road
Now if the latest Mad Max came out in the 80’s and didn’t have the benefit of modern film making technologies it may not have taken the top spot on this list, but after watching it twice last week in Real 3D with booming surround sound, there’s no other place to rank Fury Road. This entry may not star Mel Gibson, but everything else about it is pure Mad Max crack. Immortan Joe and his War Boys are easily the most insane mother fuckers living in the wasteland thanks to their scarred bodies and penchant for chanting in unison. Their war party vehicles are even more insane looking than the people driving them, so watching these maniacs on even more maniacal vehicles just screams Mad Max awesomeness.
The action sequences are unbelievable, especially when you consider most of them were done practically, and not with CGI to ratchet up the intensity artificially. The car chases in this film blow every other Mad Max car chase scene out of the water, especially because most of Fury Road is nothing but watching wastelanders terrorize each other in their Franken vehicles, which are a spectacle to see and hear. How can one argue against the pure radicalness of a vehicle that is nothing but oversized speaker amps and a guitar player named Doof Warrior shredding a double neck guitar that also shoots flames out of its top? I mean if that isn’t the epitome of a Mad Max movie then I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
Fury Road also stands out for its strong female characters, and lack of dialogue. The lack of dialogue actually lends itself well to allowing the action to take center stage, as well as the character’s emotional physical reactions. There isn’t much to complain about in Fury Road, it really is a perfect Mad Max action film that does a stellar job at paying homages to the past entires, while opening up the franchise to a whole new generation of movie goers and psychotics.
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