Mad Max appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though a few concerns popped up along the way, as a whole I was impressed with the quality of this image.
Sharpness seemed strong. The movie remained crisp most of the time, as I discerned few signs of softness or fuzziness. I detected no concerns related to edge enhancement or jagged edges, and shimmering also was absent.
Print flaws appeared minor for an older film. I saw a handful of specks and marks, but nothing major occurred. The movie remained pretty clean as a whole.
Not a lot of grain appeared, which made me fear the use of excessive digital noise reduction, but I suspect that the source simply was never very grainy. Some bouts of grain still materialized, and a lot of the movie was shot either in daytime exteriors or in bright lighting, which wouldíve minimized apparent grain.
In terms of colors, the movie featured a somewhat overblown and washed-out look to match the desolate setting. However, when brighter hues made sense, the disc replicated them with solid vividness and accuracy, and the colors consistently appeared clear and distinct.
Black levels also came across as reasonably deep and rich, and shadow detail looked clean and appropriately opaque. Overall, I was impressed with the visual presentation of Mad Max, as it exceeded my expectations for a 36-year-old low-budget flick.
The filmís remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack wasnít quite up to the standards set by the picture, but it was decent. One positive note: the audio came from the original ďAustralian EnglishĒ recording and not from the atrocious American dub that most US fans knew in the 1980s. Apparently the distributors thought Yanks couldnít handle those thick Aussie accents, so we were stuck with a terrible looped edition.
In any case, the disc rectified this situation. For those who remain interested, the American dub also appeared on the Blu-ray, as did the original monaural Australian track.
While the 5.1 mix expanded the horizons of the latter, it didnít do so to a tremendous degree. During many parts of the movie, the soundfield essentially remained monaural. Music and effects demonstrated some spread to the sides and the rear; for example, at times I heard cars as they zoomed from one area to another, and music came from a mix of channels. However, the track stayed largely focused in the center, so donít expect any audio gymnastics from it.
Sound quality seemed acceptable but lackluster. Speech often sounded somewhat bland and indistinct, but the lines always remained intelligible, and they showed no signs of edginess. Effects were similarly clean but they displayed little dynamic range; overall, they came across as relatively accurate but showed no power.
Music seemed pretty flat as well; though the club scene added some depth, the score generally seemed bland though still clear. Bass response rarely mustered more than a vague rumble. Overall, this was a listenable track that appeared acceptable for its era and budget limitations, but it seemed lackluster nonetheless.
How did the 2015 Collectorís Edition Blu-ray compare to those of the 2010 Blu-ray? Both seemed very similar to me. I canít state for certain that the pair were identical, but I didnít see or hear any substantial differences between them.
The 2015 Blu-ray includes most of the old BDís extras, and we begin with an audio commentary from director of photography David Eggby, production designer Jon Dowding, special effects technician Chris Murray, and historian/collector Tim Ridge. The first three men clearly were recorded together, but it sounded as though Ridge was taped separately; he only turns up on occasion, and his remarks seem somewhat detached from those of the other participants. That said, Ridgeís work is integrated awfully cleanly, to the point where I believe he didnít sit with the others, but Iím not positive
Whatever the case may be, this is a reasonably interesting track. Not surprisingly, technical issues dominate the piece, and those elements add some useful information to the package. We learn about a variety of production elements, many of which revolve around the challenges created by the low budget. At times, the track sags, but as a whole, it seems reasonably entertaining and instructive.
With that we head to some featurettes and Mel Gibson: The High Octane Birth of a Superstar. This 16-minute, 43-second featurette features movie clips for Max and a couple of other Gibson flicks from the era along with new interviews from some folks who worked with Gibson in the early days. We hear from college acting teacher Betty Williams, producer Phil Avalon and actor John Jarratt - who worked on Melís debut flick, Summer City - plus Gibson agent Faith Martin, Max casting director Mitch Mathews and director of photography David Eggby, as well as director Michael Pate and actress Piper Laurie, who knew Gibson during his follow-up to Max called Tim.
Abandon hope all ye who expect substantial information here! Instead, ďOctaneĒ is a painfully superficial discussion of how everyone knew Mel would be special. We learn how talented and handsome he was and how he was destined for greatness. The program is insanely fawning and gushing as it piles praise upon praise. A couple of minor factoids add slight interest, but overall, this is a bad program.
The second featurette - called Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon - isnít great, but itís a substantial improvement over its predecessor. This 25-minute, 35-second piece combines a little behind the scenes footage and some more movie clips plus additional interviews. We hear from DP Eggby, production designer Jon Dowding, special effects technician Chris Murray, Australian film critic David Stratton, American critics Andrew Johnston and Kirk Honeycutt, and Max historian/collector Tim Ridge.
On the negative side, ďPhenomenonĒ is also pretty gushy as it frequently tells us what a great movie Max is. However, at least this one includes some actual information.
Due to the personnel involved, it tends toward the technical side, and frankly, it seems rather redundant since we hear from so many of the same folks in the commentary. It really could have used a wider scope; the absence of director George Miller or any of the actors is a definite problem. Overall, ďPhenomenonĒ is a decent but excessively fawning and hyperbolic documentary.
New to the 2015 Blu-ray, we get Cast and Crew Interviews. In this 26-minute, 27-second compilation, we hear from Eggby and actors Mel Gibson and Joanne Samuel. We hear about casting, characters and performances, stunts and action, George Millerís work, cinematography and visual design, and the movieís impact. The interviews offer a reasonably good collection of memories; I canít say anything fascinating occurs, but we find some decent notes here.
A few minor extras round out the package. We get two trailers, both of which use the awful US dub. Donít watch these first if youíve not seen the movie; they reveal an awful lot of the story. We also get five TV Spots.
A Photo Gallery includes 100 images. These mix ads and shots from the film to create a decent collection.
The 2015 Collectorís Edition drops a trivia track from the prior release. Actually, that subtitle commentary wasnít on the Blu-ray itself; it appeared on the DVD that came with the BD. No DVD here, no trivia track.
Though undeniably influential, I donít think Mad Max offers a terrific film experience. The flick has its moments and I can definitely see its impact on later movies, but the flick itself seems somewhat lackluster. The Blu-ray provides pretty good visuals as well as acceptable audio and a decent set of supplements. This becomes a fairly positive representation of the film and worth a look for fans who donít own the prior Blu-ray. However, those who already have the earlier disc donít need to buy this one, as it doesnít represent an upgrade.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of MAD MAX