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A disappointing slap in the face that feels like a money grab.

Blu-ray Review: Mad Max

Can you believe it’s been over 30 years since this movie came out? Or as my wife so elegantly commented, “Wow, I never knew Mel Gibson used to be hot!” A surprise hit from the land down under, the film was a star-making vehicle for Gibson as well as director George Miller as they told this story about what drove officer Max Rockatansky mad enough to seek revenge against an outlaw motorcycle gang. Now it’s back in a brand new combo Blu-ray/DVD release from MGM; the DVD offers the movie widescreen and fullscreen.

Frankly, this is not a film that benefits from hi definition transfer. Considering its decidedly low-tech origins, there’s no overcoming its inherent image graininess. Dedicated fanatics may rejoice at the chance to make out more details than in the past from its 1080p/AVC encoded transfer, but for the casual enthusiast, there’s just not enough improvement over DVD to warrant upgrading.

Audio is similarly suspect, as the Blu offers an “Australian” English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, but considering that the film was originally released in mono there’s only so much digital separation can accomplish. The Blu also offers the original mono, Spanish mono, French stereo, and American English dubbed mono.

Where this release really drops the ball is its bonus features. A quick glance at the contents reveals that the DVD contains far more bonus features than the Blu, and in fact the Blu offers no exclusive content. Both discs have a commentary track by art director Jon Dowding, cinematographer David Eggby, special effects artist Chris Murray and Max historian/collector Tim Ridge as well as the “Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon” featurette. It’s a disappointing slap in the face to the fans and colors this even more as a money grab. Skip right to the DVD for your bonus feature viewing of the following:

“Mel Gibson: The Birth of a Superstar” documentary
Original trailers
“Road Rants” trivia and fun fact track
Photo gallery
TV spots

While the DVD’s bonus features are robust, the disc appears to be an exact duplicate of the 2002 Special Edition DVD release. In other words, one more reason for existing owners to skip the upgrade.

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Formerly known as The Masked Movie Snobs, the gang has unmasked, reformed as Cinema Sentries, and added to their ranks as they continue to deliver quality movie and entertainment coverage on the Internet.

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