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Film Facts:

Hell is a German-Swiss post-apocalyptic/horror film (with English subtitles), released in 2011. Starring Hannah Herzsprung, and is the directorial debut of Tim Fehlbaum. My synopsis: “In a sun-scorched post-apocalyptic landscape, three travelers (Marie, Leonie, and Philip) head for the mountains based on rumors of water. Bad stuff goes down.

hell red car

The Apocalypse Scenario:

In the near future, solar flares have wreaked havoc with Earth’s atmosphere and increased the planet’s temperature by 10°C (or 18°F). The sun pummels the terrain, scorching all plant and animal life. There are rumors that it still rains “above the treeline” but this notion is dismissed as wishful thinking. The survivors avoid walking during the daylight and cover their skin as if trekking across the Sahara desert. People tape cardboard and newspaper over their car windows in an effort to keep the sunlight out. One character was knocked unconscious and laid in the sun for two hours, giving him severe burns.

The Year:

2016. We’re not given a timeline, but its been at least two or three years into the mysterious solar flares.
hell pushing barrier

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Water and Sunscreen. (Seriously, sunscreen must be worth a fortune because no-one ever puts it on.) Our trio scavenges for pretty much everything; water and food are the obvious necessities. Marie and Leonie take apart gas-station radiators and toilets in search of water. The charred landscape is a constant reminder of the Earth’s demise, intensifying the need for food. As our group traverses deeper into the mountains, creating a sustainable source of nourishment becomes central to the plot.

hell house

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Compromise.
The question of “what will you compromise to survive” is nothing new to the post-apocalyptic genre. My guess is that someone read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and decided to make an entire film exploring the farmhouse scene. (You know the one.) With that said, Hell is a well-made film and the idea of compromise takes a front-seat. Its implied that Marie and Philip have a sexual relationship that’s somewhat reluctant on Marie’s part. When Leonie questions her older sister about it, Marie replies “we help each other.” When the inevitable stuff goes down, characters are forced to make decisions between their own survival and rescuing part of their group. Finally, we see what lengths a community will resort to in order to survive. The most disturbing part is how these compromises are accepted as part of normal life. The film asks the audience (without words) “What would you do to survive hell on earth?” And, “if the highest ethic isn’t survival, what is it?”

hell tunnel

Isaac’s Rating:

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3 out of 5 Zipped Lips.

Post-apocalyptic films are becoming a dime of dozen, and I’m pleased to say that this is one of the better ones. Hell forgoes depicting destruction on a grand scale, preferring to focus on a trio traversing the German countryside in their little red car. The result is intimate, intense, and terrifying. Fehlbaum’s attention to detail, like Philip burning his fingers when he reaches for a sun soaked gas cap, gives the film a human touch of believability and familiarity. We’ve all experienced the intense heat of summer, and here we’re given a picture of a world that’s this way all the time. Even though its lower budget, the camerawork and scenery are all beautiful and terrifying to behold. Fehlbaum is a talented director and I’m looking forward to what he does in the future.

Overall, Hell is a solid but fairly derivative film. The Road, 28 Days Later, and The Walking Dead’s fifth season have all covered these ideas before. If you loved The Road and are looking for something intense, then give Hell a watch on Netflix. If you’re looking for something completely new and unique, then skip it in favor of Mad Max or Walking Dead.

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What do you think, apocalypse fans? – Don’t forget to check out the rest of our movies in the Post-Apocalyptic Movie Roundup!

Film Facts:

The City of Ember. Released in 2008 and based on the 2003 novel of the same name. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray, and Tim Robbins. Directed by Gil Kenan.

The Apocalypse Scenario:

In the midst of a global war,“the Builders” constructed an underground “City of Ember” to preserve the human race until Earth’s surface could once again support civilization. After 200 years, a locked box entrusted to the mayor would open with instructions to return to the surface. The generations born in Ember would have no knowledge of the previous world or anything outside. But the box was lost, their secret departure date long passed, and now the city’s power generator is dying; threatening to leave humanity in eternal darkness.


The Year:

241 years after an apocalyptic war (approximately the 2250’s).

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Electricity.
The City of Ember is beautifully lit by light bulbs on the cavern walls and throughout the city. The generator, however, has operated far longer than it was designed to. Machines are breaking down and supplies are running out; the City of Ember is doomed.

Human Creativity and Innovation.
The citizens, especially the mayor, are less than concerned as generations of dependence on the generator has made humanity naive, bored, and complacent. The two protagonists, teens Lina and Doon, embody the human spirit of curiosity and adventure that has faded from the City of Ember. It is through their unwavering resolve to save Ember that they discover and decipher the Builder’s plans for exodus. Ember allows us to witness what happens to a society when human creativity, exploration, and adventure are stifled for over two centuries

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

The necessity of creativity, ambition, and imagination.
City of Ember is unique in many ways. Its a children’s tale, weaving layers of metaphor and commentary. It avoids chaotic destruction to focus on a remnant of humanity: naïve souls who know nothing other than the City of Ember. This idea of a “vault” or “secret society” who survives underground is common in the post-apocalyptic genre and it is usually approached in a gritty, perverse fashion with unsympathetic, heavy-handed messages. Human ambition is typically presented as the downfall of humanity (i.e., creating nuclear weapons). Ember takes the opposite approach, demonstrating creativity, ambition, and innovation as absolutely necessary human virtues.

Rating:

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3.5 Zipped Lips.

The City of Ember is promoted as a kids story but refuses to sacrifice good storytelling in order to be family friendly (its closer to classics like The Giver than fantasy adventures like Percy Jackson). It avoids the #1 pitfall of all kids’ movies: the “Adults are Useless” trope. The young heroes of Ember seek adult help with the mystery and through various twists and turns they eventually must journey alone. The concept design is breathtaking, the soundtrack stirring, and the final combination is stellar. The City of Ember is appropriate enough for the kiddos but layered enough to be loved by anyone with a bit of imagination.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our reviews in the Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

Oblivion – Released in 2013, starring Tom Cruise. Directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on the unpublished graphic novel by Kosinski and Arvid Nelson.

oblivion New York City shot

The Apocalypse Scenario:

“Are you an effective team?”

Earth has been devastated by extra-terrestrial war. An alien called “the Scavengers” attacked Earth for its resources, destroying the moon and invading the planet. The loss of the moon caused tsunamis, earthquakes, and other ecological disasters. Humanity defended against invasion with nukes, and the combination left Earth “uninhabitable.” The film takes place in New York City, which is completely buried except for a few iconic locations like the top of the Empire State Building.

Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) explains that the hope for humanity’s future is in sucking up the ocean and emigrating to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. A huge ship called “the Tet” orbits Earth and oversees the collection of resources and evacuation. The mission is regularly sabotaged by the “Scavs.”

Jack and Tets

The Year:

2077. Earth was attacked 60 years ago. In the opening narration, Jack reveals that he’s been on this assignment for 5 years.

oblivion chase statue of liberty

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Memories.
The film opens with an narration about a mandatory memory-wipe 5 years ago. Jack and Victoria have dreams of their past life which they are instructed to dismiss. Most of the film involves Jack’s reluctance to leave Earth and exploring his mysterious pre-wipe memories. In the-house-that-Jack-built, we see books, record players, a basketball hoop, and other American nostalgia.

Oblivion works on mystery, so if you haven’t seen the film yet I suggest skipping the rest of this review.

***SPOILERS BELOW***

Later, it is revealed that Jack and Victoria are actually clones. The Tet is not a human space station, but an alien ship that captured a team of astronauts (the original Jack and Victoria) and cloned them repeatedly for 60 years in order to invade Earth and steal its resources.

Oblivion sky tower

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Shiny.
Oblivion is a beautiful movie. Boasting a sleek design and incredible special effects, its a wonder to behold. There’s some gorgeous, almost Avatar rivaling landscape shots of post-apocalyptic New York City. The Tet’s futuristic design features brilliant whites and steel grays. When most of this genre takes places in the Mad Max wasteland, Oblivion’s Apple-store look is refreshingly cool.

Vika in the Sky Tower

Aliens and Earth.
The concept is fascinating and original: an extra-terrestrial AI invades planets by cloning the best and brightest of the indigenous race for their invasion force. Once they’ve won the war, the clones are then wiped of their memory, given a compelling backstory, and put to work harvesting resources. The result is a hope that humans, even when indoctrinated by evil forces, can be redeemed.
Most post-apocalyptic movies are about nuclear war, greed, and human depravity decimating everything. Oblivion gives us a hopeful look at the connection between people and the Earth. Even though Jack is supposed to leave for Titan, he’s inexplicably drawn to nature. Despite the comforts of the Sky Tower and romance with Vika, he cannot shake the feeling that Earth is where people belong. Jack breaks many rules to grow plants, and even builds a secluded cabin refuge. There is not only something about humanity that needs Earth, but Earth herself flourishes under human care.

Oblivion Jack's plant

Isaac’s Rating:

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2.5 Zipped Lips

Oblivion is a mixed bag. To its credit, its a gorgeous, fast-paced, sci-fi mystery with lots of twists and turns. The design, soundtrack, and special effects (both practical and cgi) are all beautiful. Its weakness is that most of the dramatic moments feel borrowed from other films. The action scenes have cliches we’ve seen countless times before; what is supposed to be suspenseful and climactic feels humdrum by the 3rd act. Even Morgan Freeman’s character (who gets about 5 minutes of screen-time) is mailed in.

Your enjoyment of Oblivion will greatly depend on your ability to infer cause-and-effect from little exposition. When the credits rolled, I wasn’t sure what was a glaring plot hole, or is simply an unsupported twist that I’m supposed to figure out on my own. Its too bad that such an original idea was executed in a run-of-the-mill fashion.

Overall, I enjoy and recommend Oblivion for its unique setting and visually sleek, sci-fi contribution to the genre. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our movies in the Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

Waterworld – Released in 1995, starring Kevin Costner and directed by Kevin Reynolds. (11 years before Al Gore’s famous An Inconvenient Truth.)

The Apocalypse Scenario:

Water covers the entire surface of the planet. Pollution and oil drilling caused the polar ice caps to melt and drown the earth in several hundred feet of water. Humanity survived by building small floating villages on bits of scavenged ships and other debris. Most of the characters travel on sailboats, trading food and trinkets of the old world to survive. There are myths of a fabled “dryland,” but no-one has even seen it. A villainous group called “the Smokers” kill and plunder in their endless search for oil (insert anti-capitalist cliches here). A few humans have mutated, developing webbed feet and gills to better survive in the ocean depths.

waterworld spyglass

The Year:

2500. While the movie gives no time reference, the production designer said “the date was 2500.” Enough time has passed since the apocalypse that no-one has ever stepped on dry land. Fishnets, fish-bones, and various maritime gear make up the costumes.

waterworld town

What They’ve Run Out Of:

“Nothing’s free in water world.”

Land.
Despite its infamous faults, Waterworld gives us a unique look at what would happen to civilization if there was no land. Fruit, paper, clean water, a handful of dirt; things we take for granted become priceless commodities in this aquatic wasteland. When someone dies, their body is “recycled” in a vat of muddy goo that eventually biodegrades into dirt. The film opens with Kevin Costner peeing into a cup, which he then pours into a filtering machine and takes another drink. (There’s a fitting metaphor for this film in there somewhere.)

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What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

“Mad Max on water.”
From story, to visuals, to over-the-top insane villains, Waterworld seems to be a cut and paste job of the Mad Max filmsMel Gibson’s lone antihero “Mad Max” becomes Kevin Costner’s bland “The Mariner.” Crazy biker gangs tearing across the desert wasteland in search of gasoline are now jet-ski gangs racing across the ocean in search of gasoline.

Despite borrowing heavily from Mad Max, Waterworld has some unique features and (like it or not) is iconic in its own right. So much of our experience on planet earth is tied to life-giving dirt. Waterworld gives us a glimpse at what our planet would be like without it. The ending is iconic; a green and lush refuge is a welcome relief from the harsh blue and gray of the ocean landscape.

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Isaac’s Rating: “So bad its good.”

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1 out of 5 Zipped Lips.

There’s potential for a great action movie here (especially in its bloated $172 million budget) but the script and acting are painfully bad. Kevin Costner tries to play an unattached, self-serving antihero which results in bored and monotone acting. The villain (Dennis Hopper) is a mad, oil-drilling fanatic so cliched you’ll swear you recognize him from the environmentally themed cartoon, Captain Planet. Between a bland Kevin Costner, an annoying 9yr old girl, a cartoonish villain, and female lead Jeanne Triplehorn hysterically trying to compensate for them, Waterworld completely flops in the character department. The real star of this epic is the Mariner’s 60ft trimaran. The crew built an incredibly complex and unique ship and its a lot of fun to see Costner swinging around on it during the action scenes.

Waterworld is goofy, poorly acted, and hopelessly cliche, but it also boasts some fun, big budget action in a unique setting. I have a blast every time I watch it, and I hope you’ll also find it “so bad its good.”

Waterworld herp derp cast

What do you think, fans? – Don’t forget to check out the other films in our Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

The Postman was released in 1997 and is based on the 1985 novel of the same name. Starring and directed by Kevin Costner.

Plot synopsis: In the year 2013, America’s soil has healed from an apocalyptic war but society has not. Reverting to the Wild West lifestyle, American towns are isolated and oppressed by General Bethlehem (Will Patton), a self imposed feudal lord and leader of the hyper-survivalist group called “the Holnists”. When a drifter (Kevin Costner) discovers a US Postman uniform and begins delivering mail under the ruse that the United States has rebuilt, he restores hope and inspires revolution.

The Apocalypse Scenario:

The Postman occurs 16 years after an unspecified war which used weapons of mass destruction (according to the book: nukes, EMPs, and bio-engineered plagues were all released on US soil). The land is lush and green once again but civilization hangs by a thread. Isolated towns are able to farm by hand but most supplies are confiscated by the hyper-survivalist militia. Americans cling to remnants of culture; we witness traveling actors performing Shakespeare and a folk version of “Come and get your Love.”

The Year:

2013. The apocalyptic war ended 16 years earlier (1997).

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Mailmen. (ha).
Okay, to be serious, it’s “Hope.”
Apparently EMPs have wiped out pretty much everything electric; so horses, carts, livestock, and hand-planted crops are all they’ve got. The setting is a remarkably interesting return to the Wild West in both technology and political structure. The Holnist militia that once helped them survive the wasteland has now become their greatest obstacle. So when a lone postman arrives talking about a “restored United States” and delivering long-lost mail from their loved ones, they have reason to hope for a better life once again. This tale is less about struggling to survive in adverse conditions and more about a fractured nation finding hope amidst the oppression of an evil ruler.

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

“You have a gift, Postman… You’ve given us all back what we’d forgotten. You made Mrs. March feel like she could see again. You made Ford feel like he was part of the world. You give out Hope like it was candy in your pocket.”

Despite its flaws, The Postman has one of the more interesting and unique premises in the genre. Its a return to the Wild West, where being a decent person can actually impact society. Most films in the post-apocalyptic genre focus on the hopelessness of survival (The Road), preserving a remnant of civilization (Book of Eli), or escaping to a ‘safe-haven’ outside the wasteland (Waterworld). But The Postman’s setting is unique; there’s no wasteland, no nuclear fallout, nothing to escape from… except the hyper-survivalist leader General Bethlehem. Reconstruction is possible, it just has to be wanted badly enough by decent human beings. The Postman becomes a symbol of what the United States once stood for and could be again: freedom from tyranny, protecting the innocent, and hope for the future. His code of honor is the Postman’s creed: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” It’s a bit silly that a post-apocalyptic Pony Express is foundational in restoring the United States, but The Postman reminds us of what an important thing hope is.

Isaac’s  Rating:

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3 Zipped Lips. – What is lacks in polish, it (almost) makes up for in heart.
Starring and directing in a 3-hour epic, this is basically Kevin Costner’s attempt at copying Braveheart. The result is a good-hearted but goofy fable. Costner’s final climax is predictable, with too many cheesy, contrived, slow-motion scenes screaming “I just want to be as epic as Braveheart!” (Considering how Waterworld is basically “Mad Max on water,” Kevin Costner must have a serious man-crush on Mel Gibson.)
Anyone who watches this must ask themselves questions about the nature and importance of hope, and its ability to inspire people to rally together. The ruffle in this story, however, is that the truth behind that hope is apparently of secondary consequence.

The book does a better job of showing how if it wasn’t for the Holnists, America would have returned to its unified state and the Postman’s fabrications gave isolated towns the hope they needed to do that. “It was not the electronics-destroying EMPs, the destruction of major cities, nor the release of various bio-engineered plagues that actually destroyed society: rather, it was the hyper-survivalists themselves, those who maintained stockpiles of weapons and ammunition and who preyed on humanitarian workers and other forces of order.”
I was initially put off by how slow and saccharine The Postman is. After doing some reading on the novel and giving it a second watch, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Its inspiring, hopeful, and features a wonderfully patriotic score by James Newton Howard. I recommend giving The Postman a chance because even though its goofy, it has the heart of an epic.

Don’t forget to check out our other movies in the Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

Mad Max: Fury Road – released in 2015. Starring Tom Hardy as ‘Mad’ Max and Charlize Theron as Furiosa. Directed by George Miller. (Spoilers to follow.)

mad max helicopter shot over war party

The Apocalypse Scenario:

“As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy… Me, or everyone else.”

Set some time after the events of the original trilogyFury Road continues the bleak image of a nuclear wasteland. This time, however, civilization has begun to rebuild under the tyrannical rule of Immortan Joe. Joe lives in a rocky citadel filled with amenities like water, milk, gardens, and a harem. His empire is a cult, with an army of War Boys who believe Immoran Joe has the power to deliver their souls to Valhalla. We witness a stark contrast between the famished hordes below and the decrepit elite above.

mad max fury road citadel immoran joe

The Year:

Unknown. If the previous films were an alternate 1970’s and following, we can assume that the timeline is somewhat contemporary.

mad max fury road Immortan joe closeup

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Babies.
The Mad Max tagline has always been “water, bullets, gas.” Immortan Joe’s empire impressively has all these bases covered… except for healthy people. Miller conceived of a story where “violent marauders were fighting, not for oil or for material goods, but for human beings.” Mutation-free women for breeding and Max’s O-negative blood have become the most precious of commodities. Many characters from the citadel, especially Joe’s previous sons, have tumors or various defects and deformities. Immortan Joe needs a healthy child to continue his legacy and most of the film involves Joe’s attempt to reclaim “what is his.” The bride’s protest is “we are not things” and “our children will not be warlords.”

mad max and the brides

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Redemption of the wasteland.
Almost every post-apocalyptic story involves the search for an oasis, preserve, or “safe-place” away from the wasteland (Waterworld, The Road, Walking Dead, etc.) Fury Road turns this trope on its head when the long-sought “Green Place” is desolate, and the only hope is in freeing the citadel from Immortan Joe. The result is a unique and hopeful note; even the corrupt and violent wasteland can be redeemed. Hope is not in escaping the world, but taking a stand against evil.

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Feminism.
In a genre seriously lacking in compelling female characters, Fury Road gives us the terrific, one-armed Furiosa (Charlize Theron) on a mission to save women from sex slavery. Even Max takes on a supporting role to Furiosa’s mission (instead of the “white man saves the day” trope). There are only a handful of explicit “feminist lines” (“We are not things”), preferring character interaction over heavy-handed cliches.The simplicity is brilliant here; there is no dialogue defending Furiosa’s identity as a woman warrior, or how she learned how to shoot so well, she simply does it. She is as self-sufficient and resourceful as Max is, and their redemption is in learning to trust one another. There is much that could be said on this topic and I highly recommend this article on ways Fury Road subverts movie sexism, and this article on heroic masculinity.

If I may emphasize anything here, its that the beauty of Fury Road is in its simplicity. To see Immortan Joe and his war boys as an elaborate personification of the white male patriarchy who must be overthrown and replaced with a matriarchy (because men are always evil and women are always benevolent) is grossly misreading the film. There are themes and real world parallels here, but we should remember that Miller’s words, and consultant Eve Ensler’s expertise, explicitly state that Fury Road is exploring how women are subjugated and abused in contexts like sex slavery and war zones. Perhaps a better analogy than first-world America is the very real sex slavery, harems, and torture of women by radical Islam and the religious justification of Jihad.

Mad Max and Furiosa

Isaac’s Rating:

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5 Zipped Lips – The quintessential action movie.

Fury Road’s success is in its unadorned plot, iconic imagery, strong characters, attention to detail, and relentless action. The trailer alone is a work of art. George Miller describes Fury Road as “a very simple allegory, almost a western on wheels.” Almost the entire movie is an extended car chase and an astonishing amount of the special effects are practical rather than cgi (about 90% according to Miller). Each vehicle is a moving set piece with real roadsters racing, crashing, and exploding. The tension begins in the opening credits and never stops. The result is a nail-biting, stomach wrenching, edge-of-your-seat experience. Fury Road stands as one of the best in the post-apocalyptic genre.

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There you have it, fans, Mad Max: Fury Road. Do you agree, disagree? Comment below! Don’t forget to check out our other movies in our Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

Starring Mel Gibson as ‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky in the first three films, and Tom Hardy in Fury Road. Directed by George Miller (although George Ogilvie took over directing much of Thunderdome).

All of the Mad Max films have received ‘cult classic’ status and the sequel The Road Warrior is truly the best, most iconic, and post-apocalyptic of original three. This article will focus mostly on Road Warrior and I covered Fury Road in a separate review.

The Apocalypse Scenario:

Global nuclear holocaust set in the Australian Outback. Cold War tensions and a global energy crisis paved the way for the dystopian and near-anarchistic setting seen in the original Mad Max, and the ensuing nuclear war creates the wasteland seen in Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome.

The first Mad Max features the Outback’s descent into chaos and anarchy as wild biker gangs take over the open road, torturing and murdering anyone they encounter. The Road Warrior, its sequel, depicts a world totally destroyed. The wasteland lacks any semblance of order or civilization and is at the mercy of insane marauders.

The Year:

Unknown. While Road Warrior and Thunderdome clearly follow a nuclear war, they are purposefully vague on the details and dates of these events. It’s safe to say that the ‘Mad Max Universe’ takes place in an alternate 1970’s and following.

What They’ve Run Out Of:

-Gas. Inspired by car-wrecks and violent reactions during the 1973 oil crisis, George Miller wrote the script “on the thesis that people would do almost anything to keep vehicles moving and the assumption that nations would not consider the huge costs of providing infrastructure for alternative energy until it was too late.”

The entire plot of The Road Warrior rides on the premise that gasoline is now a rare and precious commodity. (You run out of fuel, you’re dead.) Max cruises through the wasteland in his supercharged V-8 Pursuit Special, clashing with marauders and running on fumes. Later, he happens upon some semblance of civilization, a small oil refinery besieged by the marauders. Max offers to help them escape by driving a battering ram equipped fuel tanker, hauling the precious gasoline and fighting off the pursuers. The ensuing chase is one of the most iconic action sequences in film history (and regularly tops “Top 10 Car Chase” lists).
Food, water, and ammunition are also scarce. Firearms are rare, and most resort to using bows and crossbows. Max bluffs with an empty sawed-off shotgun and eats a can of dog food for supper.

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Everything. You can’t talk ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ without covering Mad Max because it defined the film genre. Everything from the Western style ‘man with no name’ hero to the beat up roadsters tearing across the wasteland have become infamous tropes. Road Warrior’s ‘comic-book, post-apocalyptic/punk style’ popularized the genre and jetted Mel Gibson to superstar status.
Mad Max is all about crazy car chases with crazier badguys. These villains are flat out insane. Their punk Mohawks, leather studded costumes, ragtag vehicles, unrelenting pursuit and psychotic battle cries make unforgettable villains.
The car chase sequences are action packed, tightly edited, fast-paced (by 80’s standards) and full of tremendous crashes. These pre-CGI films all feature an amazing amount of stunt work that leaves the viewer wondering what safety laws, if any, there are in Australia.

Isaac’s Rating:

The Mad Max series, especially The Road Warrior, is foundational to the Post-Apocalyptic genre. With that said, these movies are far from perfect. Unpolished and slow paced (it was the 70’and 80’s, after all) can make the Mad Max films rather laborious if you’re unprepared for its style.

Mad Max (1979). 2 Zipped-Lips. A classic ‘cop gets revenge for the death of his family’ story featuring car chases across the Australian Outback. In my opinion: Doesn’t stand the test of time. It is slow paced with lots of driving filler, minimal budget, unpolished, and ultimately skippable. (The Road Warrior recaps the events of this film in its opening sequence).

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981). 4.5 Zipped-Lips. Clearly the superior film of the series. Gritty, relentless, iconic, but clearly dated by today’s standards. Max is a fantastic protagonist, sustaining realistic and permanent injury (he continues to walk with a limp and a leg brace after being shot in the first film). Road Warrior is a must-see for anyone interested in the Post-Apocalyptic genre.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). 3 Zipped-Lips. This PG-13 sequel should have been called “Max Max and the Lost Boys from Peter Pan.” The gritty action was swapped out for a cheesier approach where badguys are subdued with frying pans and vats of pig poo. This humorous, slapstick action works wonderfully in movies like Hook but feels childishly out of place in Mad Max. The Thunderdome match against Master Blaster is a highlight (“Two men enter! One man leaves!”) but everything is downhill after that. Some fans argue that the film’s lighter tone was meant to reflect Max’s return to humanity, but in the end, its just disappointing.

There you have it, fans! The Mad Max series. Don’t forget to comment below!

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