There are other movies out there revolving around post-apocalypse beyond Mad Max and the Road Warrior. Not all of them are good, however.

Alright, maybe it isn’t fair to use The Road Warrior as a Litmus test for these kinds of movies. After all, it is extremely difficult to maintain that kind of brilliance. And George Miller may have set the bar far too high for everyone else, but let’s overlook that, for the moment, and focus on the basic story. If anyone else has looked into the background of George Miller’s film, they will know that he, like a lot of other directors/writers found their influence in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces (not to be confused with the James Cagney film Man of a Thousand Faces) which speaks of the internal journey of the main hero, what he must go through mentally as he goes through the motions physically. Sure, who doesn’t like a good smash ’em up, shoot ’em up film? However, in order for there to be a great story the audience needs to connect and (gasp!) maybe actually learn something about the hero and about themselves in the process. Great writers do this to our subconscious, planting a seed in our brain early on in the story that allows us to connect with the protoganist and carry us on the same journey. At its very basic level, “Mad” Max Rockatansky follows the formula point-for-point.* Miller succeeds in bringing us the real change this guy goes through because he slathers decadent layers of chase scenes and punches-up and all the gooey goodness of action flicks over the character change instead of force-feeding us what the writer wants us to believe through clunky exposition (anyone who’s ever taken a writing class would recall, “show, don’t tell”).

With that groundwork, let’s look at some other movies in the genre. World Gone Wild is a movie I am ashamed to say that I owned from back in the VHS days. I recall being at the mall and I came across this movie about a post-nuclear wasteland featuring Adam Ant. Young girl that I was, smitten by the british pop star at the time and having my pockets full of paper-route money, I found the tape in the bargain bin a little difficult to pass up.

In retrospect, I wish that I’d have walked away. Just walked away.

WGW seems to want to be The Road Warrior meets Star Wars with a septagenarian Harry Potter-esque ridiculous character thrown in for bad measure. The dialogue and situations induce riotous laughter (surely what the movie-makers intended, right?) and remove you as far from the desperate situation most of us would find us in after a nuclear conflict. Good for a laugh, not so good for a story.

At any rate, you’d have to see for yourself how laughable it is. Don’t forget to watch out for lethal hubcaps.

More movie reviews to come…

*outlined in Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s great book on the subject, 45 Master Characters. The book is must-have for anyone wanting to be a writer and to understand what character personality and motives are. Also, for anyone interested, I did a “schedule” style breakdown of the movie when I sat an analyzed it for my own amusement. Sometimes I like to subscribe to the “analyze-it-and-the-magic-disappears” school of thought, but in the case of The Road Warrior, it only enhanced it.

LATE COMMENT:  There’s a character named “Max Rockatansky” in House of God, which is a novel regarding the life of an intern during his residency at the eponymously named hospital.  George Miller went to medical school.  Although Wiki cites a reference to the last name of a procedural pioneer, I believe he read the book and unconsciously (or consciously) filed the name away.  I report, you decide for yourself.

(Originally Published 5 AUG 2009)

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