XenForo Template The Road Warrior Release Date: May 15, 2007 Studio: Warner Home Video Packaging/Materials: Standard single-disc HD DVD case Year: 1981 Rating: R Running Time: 1h35m Video (Feature): 1080p HD 16x9 2.40:1 Audio (Feature): Dolby Digital Plus: English 5.1, French 2S, Spanish 2S Video (Special Features): 480p SD Audio (Special Features): Mono Subtitles: English, French, Spanish (Feature only) MSRP: $28.99 The Feature: 4/5 With gas prices the way they are Director George Miller's vision of a post-apocalyptic wasteland where people scavenge - if not kill - for fuel doesn't seem like such a leap. It was first presented in his and Producer Byron Miller's "Mad Max" alt=" " /> First appearance or not, Max and his story should be familiar to people everywhere, following the mythological archetype of the lone warrior who must choose others over self and defeat a great evil. To the more casual (and geeky) observer, the character and story feel like "Star Wars" if things were focused on Han Solo instead of Luke Skywalker. But if the power of myth and the compare-and-contrast don't interest you, no worries - "The Road Warrior" is first and foremost Entertaining, a 90-minute chase film with masked maniacs, souped up and defensively decked out motor vehicles and lots and lots of mayhem. Though the bleak, fossil fuel-less future may give some of us pause, the bizarre cast of characters (mostly on the antagonists' side) and incredible action and stunts are an effective distraction from anything resembling real world concerns. (Note: There is nothing on the disc that explicitly states the film is the original, uncut version of "Mad Max 2." The sole indicator is the "Mad Max 2" title card instead of "The Road Warrior.") Video Quality: 3/5 The video quality of "The Road Warrior" is at its best during daylight scenes. Detail and texture are excellent, with the coarse, short hairs of Max's dog and the plentiful dust and dirt grains easily identifiable (and countable if one so chooses). Mild to moderate edge halos can be seen, but only in the most high contrast circumstances; grain structure is visible at times but not distracting. Contrast range and black levels appear accurate, though indicators otherwise are few in the full blaze of the desert sunlight. When night falls, however, expect things to get ugly. At its least offensive black levels get muddy, the picture goes soft and unstable, and colors shift toward orange. The most painful moment is when Max is sneaking through the desert with tanks of fuel. Not only can he hardly be seen in the murk, but it appears there was some attempt to remedy the problem by boosting the image, creating a Northern Lights effect in the picture. Given that day scenes are consistently good and night scenes consistently awful, my guess is the problem is in the source material, not the transfer. Consequently it's hard to rate the video quality too low and it's fortunate there are relatively few of these problematic scenes. Audio Quality: 2.5/5 The center channel gets sole use during the film's 4:3 aspect ratio prologue, and then the full speaker array engages when the film cuts to Max (and the 2.40:1 aspect ratio). But it becomes clear after the dramatic cue that the front speaker triad is getting the most action, despite it being a 5.1 mix. Surround activity is present, but not significant enough to be an influence. The mix is also rather...unmixed. The right and left channels are highly localized and their levels are not complementary to the center channel's, making the dialogue often hard to hear over the score. Though the film has little dialogue, the over-separation of channels makes for a distracting experience even during the high energy action scenes. The sound effects placed in the left and right speakers also don't shift with camera angle changes, causing moments of disorientation. That said, the audio never sounds strained or lacking in fidelity. Special Features: 3/5 Commentary by Director George Miller and Cinematographer Dean Semler: Miller and Semler provide a balanced mix of production anecdotes and history and technical information. Fans should be pleased. Introduction by Leonard Maltin (3m36s): Maltin provides a brief history of the Mad Max franchise and the cinematic significance of "The Road Warrior." Theatrical Trailer (2m28s): 16x9 1.85:1. Recap and Final Thoughts The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 3/5 Audio Quality: 2.5/5 Special Features: 3/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5 Fans of the film will likely be disappointed with the inconsistent video quality and mediocre audio mix. Nevertheless, when the film looks good, it looks really good. Depending on one's perspective, this is either a consolation or missed opportunity. A spartan set of special features doesn't really improve the situation. Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal over component from a Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and BFD-equalized SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer. Audio connection from the HD-A1 is via the multichannel analog outputs.