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Four Stars for the Films, Three Stars for the Blu-Ray Set
on June 15, 2013
First thing's first: this US Blu-Ray set is 100% NOT Region Free.
MAD MAX is Region A locked, so do not buy this set if you don't own a multi-region or Region A compatible Blu-Ray player. MAD MAX 2/THE ROAD WARRIOR and MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME however, are both Region Free!
Right, onto the films and the set itself.
MAD MAX: The first movie is fantastic: a jaw-dropping action film like no other, made at a time without CGI, when stunt men and women really put their lives in danger, for our entertainment.
The disc allows viewers to watch the film in the original Australian audio-track in a newly-created DTS HD Master Audio 6.1 soundtrack or dual-mono if you prefer, or the horrifically awful US English Dub, (in dual-mono only) in which many of the characters are dubbed into American English. Not only does it sound terrible as a soundtrack, it's a pretty ropey dub. Considering all the dubbers had to do was translate Australian English into American English, it really shouldn't have been that hard. But boy, oh, boy, do the dubbers monumentally screw this up!
Stick to the original Australian, and you won't go wrong. It's a meaty, beefy, loud and monsterous sounding 6.1 track, and the throng of the car and bike engines really feel like they're being revved in your living room! (Other audio track and subtitle options are available, including English Subs for the Deaf and Hard Of Hearing.)
The picture looks very good, but I'm sure it could be improved, if someone was willing to give it the time and care it needed. I have no idea if the Blu-Ray 1080p print is taken from a 35mm Master Negative, or not, but whilst it looks clear and crisp, it probably could look even better. Still, you won't be too disappointed. The print is totally uncut, which is always a plus-point, including some of the slightly gorier moments that some countries removed or toned down. So if you've not seen it uncut, then this is a good reason to own this set.
There's a 25-minute featurette, but I've not seen that yet, plus an audio commentary. Not exactly the best set of extras, but it's something. However, definitely a case of "must try harder"!
MAD MAX 2: Also known as THE ROAD WARRIOR, improves on the original, in so many ways. A bigger, better, more souped-up version of the first, this is a film for petrol-heads and action-fans!
Essentially, an action film, with minimal plot, but it's a stunner! Feel every single car crash, every bike smash, and every pounding thud, screech and squeal, as vehicles and people are trashed. There are too many great moments to single out, but the Gyrocopter scene is always a good one.
Again, we have another newly-created for this set, DTS HD Master Audio 6.1 soundtrack. The print is once again, uncut and uncensored, including some gory violence that was cut in some countries. The print used on the film is back to what it should be - namely MAD MAX 2, and not THE ROAD WARRIOR. Alas, the extras are the exact same ones on the old Warner's Blu-Ray release: one audio commentary, and a short intro from film critic Leonard Maltin. Fun, but not exactly great by any means. Where are the behind-the-scenes shots, or outtakes of the many incredible stunts? Disppointing, but forgiveable, purely because the film itself is so damn good. Sadly, the menu screen is cheap, and naff. A static shot, and a few icons at the bottom that let you play the film, select a chapter, play the trailer, or chose your audio and/or subtitle options.
MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME: Definitely a disappointment after the high's of the first two films, this feels very much like a typical Hollywood "third wheel". It's an okay film, with an okay plot, and okay characters. It's decidedly very average. Gibson and Turner try their best, and whilst there are occasional moments of greatness, it's definitely not a winner, even if you take the film as a bog-standard action film, let alone as a MAD MAX movie.
On this disc, you get a reasonable set of soundtracks and subtitle options, but it becomes clear very quickly, that no one at Warners was that bothered with this film. There are no extras, other than a 4:3 VHS-quality trailer. The menu screen is as static as they come, though it does tie-in to MAD MAX 2/THE ROAD WARRIOR. And you're left feeling like this was very much an unnecessary add-on to both the franchise, and this Blu-Ray box set too.
Talking of which, the Steelbook case is more like a thin tin, rather than a true Steelbook Case. Essentially, a case, with a lid, printed all over, it looks nice, but it's not exactly outstanding by any means. It also feels thin, and a little on the cheap side of things. If you're ordering this, you may want to double-check your set arrives undented and unmarked.
Inside the case, is a standard-sized Blu-Ray Amaray case, with a tray that holds the first two discs, and then the third disc goes inside in the usual position. The discs are dull: plain black with just the titles on, and a few other superfluous details, and the sleeve artwork is merely acceptable, though not great. Oh, and it's one of those horrible "recyclable" Amaray cases, with the tri-arrow recycling logo cut out of the front and back of the case. Not only does this mean the case is physically less strong, it offers less protection to the discs themselves, and there's the added potential that you can puncture the sleeve artwork, causing a nasty, irreparable tear. It smacks of cheapness. Companies need to stop using these cases immediately! I know they may be better for the environment, but on premium products like Blu-Ray's, they really do give the customer the view that you don't care if their purchase arrives damaged!
So, overall, one great film, one truly superb film, and one distinctly underwhelming film, all wrapped-up in so-so extras, and an okay case. Most people will be buying this set for the first two films, but it really does feel like this is a lot of money, for a set that's not really worth it's weight. I'm certain that once MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is unleashed onto the public, there may well be a Quadrilogy set released, but don't bank on it containing many more extras for the first three films.
Such a shame that Warners decided that MAD MAX fans weren't worth bothering with. Ultimately, a very disappointing set. Nice to own, but wait until the price comes down.
ADDENUDUM: There are no forms of digital copies included. UK Region B fans should take a look at the UK Release due out on 12th August 2013 as shown at Amazon UK here... http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mad-Max-Trilogy-Ultimate-Collectors/dp/B00CP1ZRYQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Be warned, though. The UK tin set, designed to look like a petrol/jerry can, is cheap looking, and cheaply made, and to be frank, is not even as nice to look at as the US Version.
Price-wise, the US set is a £1 or two more expensive, when importing to the UK, but if I were a fan, I'd still buy the US Set! It's simply not as tacky as the UK version looks. However, if you can't play Region A Blu-Ray discs, then you have no choice, but to buy the forthcoming UK release.