Another missed opportunity box set by Warner Bros. 2.5 Stars

Warner’s Mad Max Anthology brings all four of the Mad Max films together in one box, but ultimately this is yet another missed opportunity this season by the studio.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Released: 10 Jul 1985
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 107 min
Director: George Miller, George Ogilvie
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Cast: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence
Writer(s): Terry Hayes, George Miller, Byron Kennedy
Plot: After being exiled from the most advanced town in post apocalyptic Australia, a drifter travels with a group of abandoned children to rebel against the town's queen.
IMDB rating: 6.3
MetaScore: 71

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: Mad Max: 1 Hr. 33 Min.; The Road Warrior: 1 Hr. 35 Min.; Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: 1 Hr. 47 Min.; Mad Max: Fury Road: 2 Hr. 0 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Digital Copy
Case Type: 4-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 11/16/2021
MSRP: $89.99

The Production: 4.5/5

Mad Max: 4/5
George Miller had been working as an Emergency Room doctor at a hospital in Sydney, Australia. Seeing many car accident victims coming into his ER, he teamed up with a fellow film school student, Byron Kennedy, with whom he had made a short film in 1971 called Violence in the Cinema Part 1, and they came up with a storyline for Mad Max, its post-apocalyptic inspiration coming from the oil shortage crisis in the early 1970s. Production began in November 1977 and lasted for six weeks for principal photography, another six weeks of second unit, then in May 1978 for more second unit and reshoots. Four months of editing and other post production work followed at a friend’s apartment in North Melbourne on home-made equipment. Australian composer Brian May (not from the band Queen) was hired to create the score. The film was picked up by Roadshow Film Distributors and released in Australia in 1979, grossing over A$5 million and sold to American International Pictures for US release for $1.8 million. AIP redubbed the film with American actors (even Mel Gibson) and released it in US cinemas in 1980. At the time, Mad Max was the most profitable film when considering budget (A$350k) versus gross ($100 million US).

The Road Warrior: 4/5
A sequel was inevitable, given the first film’s success, and Mad Max 2 went into production in the winter of 1980 in Australia, with Mel Gibson returning in the role of Max. This was a much more bloody and violent film, and was subjected to several cuts by both Australian and American ratings boards to obtain an M in Australia and an R in the US. International film rights were sold to Warner Bros for territories outside of Australia, which included the US. But Warner Bros felt that they had a problem in marketing the film, since Mad Max was not quite the mega-hit in the US as it was in other parts of the world and its star Mel Gibson was also relatively still unknown at the time, so the studio retitled the picture as The Road Warrior, marketing it as a straight up post-apocalyptic action film. The film was a huge hit, grossing $36 million in the US during its initial theatrical run during the summer of 1981, and guided Gibson to some leading roles in noteworthy films like The Year of Living Dangerously, The River, The Bounty, and Mrs. Soffel.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: 4.5/5
Mel Gibson would say farewell to the role of Mad Max in the third installment released in the summer of 1985, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, co-starring with Tina Turner as the lead villain, Aunty Entity, who runs the methane-fueled Bartertown, where the infamous fight to the death Thunderdome (Two men enter, one man leave!) is located. This entry was more cartoonish, lighter on the violence, and had a more uplifting ending compared to the previous entries, earning a PG-13 rating in the US, and is my favorite film in the series. Thunderdome was not as successful as The Road Warrior, earning the same $36 million as its predecessor but on a much higher budget of $10 million. The film became more popular over the years thanks to VHS and cable, with the idea of Thunderdome becoming a pop culture reference even to this day. It also gave Tina Turner a top ten hit with the end credit song We Don’t Need Another Hero.

Mad Max: Fury Road: 4.5/5
30 years later, director George Miller brought Mad Max back to the big screen, recasting Tom Hardy in the title role, with Mad Max: Fury Road. It would be easy to call this a reboot, while others who considered it a sequel often argued as to where it lies within the mythology (there are some who think Hardy’s Max is the young boy Gibson’s Max saved in Thunderdome). My theory is that it doesn’t really matter, as this entry stands on its own feet rather well without having to call back to the previous films in the series. Max is a loner and former cop, kidnapped by a gang of thieves led by warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) for his O-type blood to provide transfusions during battles for soldier Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who is escorting a War Wagon driven by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) towards a refinery for refueling. However, Furiosa is smuggling Immortan Joe’s wives to what she believes is a safe oasis in the desert. Max escapes from Nux and offers to help Furiosa lose the trailing Joe and his army and get to her oasis. Miller takes his audience on two rides – first a chase through the desert, followed shortly thereafter by a race back to Joe’s compound, hoping to stop Joe once and for all. And Miller, with his crew of masterful technicians including Cinematographer John Seale, Production Designer Colin Gibson, a team of insane stunt performers, and a percussive score by Junkie XL, give the viewer a two-hour adrenaline rush that can’t be explained but can only be experienced. The six Oscars awarded, mostly in technical categories, were very well-deserved.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The Mad Max Anthology set contains all four films in the franchise, each on its own UHD disc (this set contains no Blu-ray discs). Warner has restored the original studio logo to each film in the series (Mad Max contains the older red WB logo in addition to the late 1970s era AIP logo).

Mad Max: 3.5/5
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this is the same transfer used on Kino’s UHD release from last year, with one glaring omission – no Dolby Vision HDR despite the appearance of the DV logo on both the disc and packaging. We do get HDR10, though. Sam Posten reviewed the Kino disc last year, and I’m knocking half a point from that score due to the loss of Dolby Vision:

It seems to me that the Wide Color Gamut support is as important as actual HDR lighting here, as specific colors have been calibrated to pop nicely, especially the reds and yellows used for the cars. Detail is seriously crisp for a 1979-era independent film, and it’s clear that serious effort and care have been taken to present this film better than anyone ever saw it in a theater. Because all the carnage was captured strictly in camera, long before the era of CGI, the destruction and mayhem look absolutely fantastic, and the peril of the stunts is more clear than ever. There’s nothing like seeing a rider actually getting hit in the back of the head by his own laid-down motorcycle (in slow motion!) to show just how dangerous some of these shots were.

There is a sheen of grain throughout, as befitting the stock used, but zero issues caused by the conversion. It’s unlikely it will ever look better.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: 5/5
George Miller had a much larger budget to work with on this film, and it shows in the quality of film stock and equipment used in this new 4K scan by the mastering team at Warner’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI). The first four minutes contains purposefully damaged stock footage and flashback footage from the first film pillar boxed in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Once the movie begins after the 4:15 mark, it is evident at just how beautiful this new 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer with HDR10 is. Colors are vibrant and natural without appearing oversaturated, with deep blue skies with much more noticeable cloud formations than ever before. Detail is excellent, showing the wear and tear in Max’s leather jacket, intricate gravel patterns in the roads, rust on vehicles, etc. Contrast is greatly improved, with deep blacks and strong shadow detail.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: 5/5
Wow. This film has never looked better. The previous Blu-ray release from 2013 suffered from weave and an overall flatness to its image. There is a depth in the image on this release that I have never seen in this film before. Contrast is excellent, thanks to HDR10, with deep blacks and incredible shadow detail, particularly in the underground methane plant. Colors are a bit more subdued compared to The Road Warrior, but that seems more like an artistic decision, and are vivid when intended.

Mad Max: Fury Road: 5/5
As with almost all of Warner’s first wave of UHD Blu-ray releases, Mad Max Fury Road was completed in 2K for theatrical release, having been shot digitally with the ARRI Alexa. Warner has upscaled the 2K image to 2160p, retaining the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and then regraded using High Dynamic Range. For the most part, the result is a definite improvement over the 1080p Blu-ray release (also included in this package), with more-defined and vibrant colors and increased detail. But with increased detail and upscaling comes very brief moments of noise that were likely intended to mimic film grain. Thankfully, you really have to be looking for it to notice it. Many of the fiery explosions appear to have a more comic-book look to them in UHD, but I believe these to be somewhat intentional, considering Miller’s screenplay was essentially a graphic novel rather than 120 pages of words on a page. (I upped my video review from March 2016 by a half point after finally viewing this on a proper display with full HDR10 capability).

Audio: 4/5

Mad Max: 2/5
Warner has provided a 5.1 surround and a 2.0 mono, both in original Australian, and encoded in DTS-HD MA. From Sam Posten’s review: This is a retread of the 5.1 Australian accent version that was included on previous Blu-ray releases. I should note we heard American dubs during the original US release of the film. Other than that it’s unremarkable and unimproved from the original release. There is a LOT of questionable edits in the mix with badly overlaid dialogue munged into the background soundscape. Speaking of the soundtrack, composer Brian May (not the guitarist from Queen)’s selections are interesting and eclectic. Other than that don’t go in expecting a dramatic upgrade the way the video is restored and presented.

The Road Warrior: 5/5
Warner’s new Dolby Atmos mix for The Road Warrior is killer. This is a fully immersive track, with sounds coming from all around and strong LFE presence, making you feel like you are in the wastelands yourself. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout, without getting lost in the mayhem.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: 4.5/5
For the most part, this new Atmos mix excels and is close to demo-worthy material. Rustling wind surrounds you in the opening shot, as does the hustle and bustle of Bartertown. Sounds travel seamlessly around the room in synch with the screen. LFE is strong without being overly boomy. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. The disappointment comes in the opening titles with Tina Turner’s One of the Living and again during her end credits song We Don’t Need Another Hero. Those two segments of the movie have always sounded somewhat flat ever since Warner released the film on DVD with a 5.1 track (those songs had a life of their own on the old stereo VHS and Laserdisc tracks, with the appearance of Beyond Thunderdome in the title having a much more pronounced sword hit).

Mad Max: Fury Road: 5/5
The Dolby Atmos track has a tremendous dynamic range, from a few, brief quiet passages of dialogue in the cab between Max and Furiosa, to an all-out assault on the eardrums during the height of the action sequences. This is definitely NOT a movie to watch without headphones late at night. Max’s opening monologue sounds like it is inside your head. This is still a very demo-worthy Atmos mix.

Special Features: 2/5

Two disappointing sets from Warner in the same week (the other was the 31-disc Middle-Earth set), all due to a lack of archival extras that could have been avoided had the studio either included Blu-ray editions or authored a fifth Special Features disc. It is somewhat understandable that no features were included with the first Mad Max, as this was licensed from MGM and MGM licensed the title out to Kino last year with new and old features. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is another barebones disc, but the 2013 Blu-ray included the theatrical trailer (in 408i) at the very least. The Blu-ray disc of Mad Max: Fury Road had a nice set of extras, but that is missing from this set as well (the UHD disc included here is identical to the 2015 release, and that was a barebones disc, too). The only disc to include any special features is The Road Warrior, and  most of that has been recycled from the 2013 Blu-ray release.

The Road Warrior
Introduction by Leonard Maltin (upscaled 1080p; 3:35): Maltin explains the background of Mad Max and the marketing challenges that Warner Bros faced with the sequel.

Audio Commentary with George Miller and Dean Semler: The two discuss their beginnings in the industry and the challenges of making this film.

**NEW** Road War: The Making of “The Road Warrior” (1080p; 48:53): This is an interesting documentary featuring new interviews with director George Miller and writer Terry Hayes, with an archival interview with Mel Gibson.

Digital Copies: Inside the case are two inserts, one contains a code to redeem a 4K digital copy of Mad Max on Vudu, the other insert contains a code to redeem 4K digital copies of the three remaining movies on Movies Anywhere. The Movies Anywhere code is not redeeming all films in 4K at all retailers, though, with iTunes/Apple TV providing Road Warrior and Fury Road in 4K (only the latter has a Dolby Atmos track) and Beyond Thunderdome in HD. Prime Video offers all three films in HD. Movies Anywhere provides all three movies in 4K, but Beyond Thunderdome is missing its Dolby Atmos track. Ugh!

Overall: 2.5/5

If you are a fan of this franchise and special features mean absolutely nothing to you, then this set is definitely for you. Die-hard fands would be better off purchasing these movies in 4K individually.

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Todd Erwin

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Lord Dalek

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The Road Warrior 4/5
Beyond Thunderdome 4.5/5

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titch

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Well, you obviously didn't notice anything detrimental with the Atmos mix on Mad Max 2 either. Ridiculous for Bill Hunt to post such an inane comment, without giving any detail at all, on something that he obviously has not had time to sit down and listen to. This is a non-issue.
 

Robert Harris

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Nice review, Todd!

I’m wondering about intent vs viability with the two sets you note.

Both presumably prepared by WB during COVID with everyone except lab personnel working from home.

I’ve always believed that words have meanings, and the words used as overall titles for these two sets - Anthology and Ultimate - tell different tales.

Anthology is a gathering together of different books, films, poems…

Which permits the studio to drop special features, although wouldn’t it be nice to be able to gift that earlier version of Fury Road to a friend, and not have to remove the disc with the special features?

An “Anthology” could give us the four films at a lower price point mit out extras.

There’s also something telling in the marketing verbiage for this release, in that rather than making note of some sort of filmmaker involvement for the new to 4k discs, it tells us that Warner’s superb digital facility - MPI - was in charge. One might presume then, that the look and feel and sound has little to do with the desires of the filmmakers, and that decisions - presumably based upon reference - were made when people were unable to sit together in a room.

As to the five-pound boxed set of Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, that also may have been affected by Covid, and the inability of those behind it to achieve their goal of everything that one might desire to give to fans - all finally - once and for all - in a single extraordinary set.

Hopefully, that set will eventually arrive, but what verbiage will be used to easily explain what’s in the box?

What has been released is best referenced as The Penultimate set.

But without any rationale to re-release the same set with that other handful of discs that everyone may have been expecting, there is an honorable way forward - a nicely boxed set of additional extras that can stand beside the Penultimate set, creating what?

Possibly the Truly Ultimate set?

I don’t see this Hobbit / Lord set as a studio failure, but rather as something planned to perfection, and appropriately titled, but waylayed by Covid, and slightly re-imagined to what could be accomplished to meet a scheduled release date, without adding “Pen” to the overriding title.

And for disappointed fans, it’s an easy fix.
 

Bryan Tuck

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Well, you obviously didn't notice anything detrimental with the Atmos mix on Mad Max 2 either. Ridiculous for Bill Hunt to post such an inane comment, without giving any detail at all, on something that he obviously has not had time to sit down and listen to. This is a non-issue.

There's nothing technically wrong with the Atmos mix, but it is indeed full of new sound effects that (to me, at least) sound totally out of place in a movie from 1981. Much like the Batman '89 UHD remix, it's very distracting and unnecessary.

The issue, though, is that the 2-channel "Original Theatrical English" track is not actually that. It is instead a fold-down of that new Atmos remix (as is the Dolby Digital 5.1 track), so it includes all those altered effects. Since it seems the intention was to provide the choice between the new Atmos and the original sound design, this is the "error." Hopefully WB will fix it and offer a replacement.
 

Todd Erwin

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Chewbabka

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I have not heard anything about a recall on this release, and do not take much stock in screenshots.

I agree, screenshots aren’t a good indicator of a release’s quality. But they certainly can tell you something about relative quality/if two things are the same.

As for the recall, he didn’t say one had been announced. But given that this was supposed to have original audio but doesn’t (the stereo mix is a fold-down of the Atmos), one seems very possible.
 

Todd Erwin

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I agree, screenshots aren’t a good indicator of a release’s quality. But they certainly can tell you something about relative quality/if two things are the same.

As for the recall, he didn’t say one had been announced. But given that this was supposed to have original audio but doesn’t (the stereo mix is a fold-down of the Atmos), one seems very possible.
Mad Max does not have Atmos.
 

Todd Erwin

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I know…. I’m talking about the sequel

It seems this has been pulled from online retailers. No listing at Best Buy, and only third party sellers on Amazon
Or they are out of stock completely with no sign of when new inventory will arrive. Studios are having major inventory issues due to constraints at the disc replication plant in Mexico.
 

Bryan Tuck

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I don't think there's anything wrong with the audio on Beyond Thunderdome, but maybe they just want to make sure. :confused:
 

John Norris

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Will the soundtrack to the original Mad Max offer the "Australian accented" version? At least as an option?

A concerned Aussie
 

Jeffrey D

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Will the soundtrack to the original Mad Max offer the "Australian accented" version? At least as an option?

A concerned Aussie
I would think so- more recent video releases of the first film have the original Aussie as the default track, and have included the American dubbed track as an option.
 

deepscan

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From what I’ve been reading in this forum I have reason to believe that the North American rights to the original film have reverted from MGM to WB, which means WB now fully owns all four films in the series, and which also explains why the supplements from the earlier releases are absent from this new collection.

If you have bought the previous Kino 4K release, you may already have a collector’s item in your hands. If not, seek this out before it is too late.
 

Chewbabka

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From what I’ve been reading in this forum I have reason to believe that the North American rights to the original film have reverted from MGM to WB, which means WB now fully owns all four films in the series, and which also explains why the supplements from the earlier releases are absent from this new collection.

If you have bought the previous Kino 4K release, you may already have a collector’s item in your hands. If not, seek this out before it is too late.
Why? Warner probably just licensed it out. Yes, it starts with the Warner logo, but they have global distro rights (sans U.S. and AU), so they just did this instead of making two different discs.
 

Tino

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@Todd Erwin said:
“ with iTunes/Apple TV providing Road Warrior and Fury Road in 4K (only the latter has a Dolby Atmos track) and Beyond Thunderdome in HD.”

This has since been corrected on iTunes and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is now in 4K/Dolby Vision.