Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tina Turner: Beyond Thunderdome

It turns out that I had never seen Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. I had somehow tricked my mind into thinking I had by having listened to the soundtrack so many times over the course of my life. Sitting down to watch the film last night though it became quickly evident that I'd never seen it. Isn't it great how things like that happen?

As it turns out, Beyond Thunderdome isn't anything special. The third instalment of the Mad Max trilogy is a rare beast, indeed. Directed by George Ogilvie with George Miller on action sequence duties (he dropped out of directing the film after the death of producer Byron Kennedy), I appreciated how completely bonkers this movie was for a supposedly quite mainstream action flick. Those early scenes in Bartertown are insane what with their pig shit farming and that "Thunderdome" fight sequence (hailed by Roger Ebert as "the first really original movie idea about how to stage a fight since we got the first karate movies".) I like that they didn't curb the imagination for this film, despite it being a much bigger budgeted American-focused sequel.

Shame then about that second act, which is a complete and utter disaster. Despite a lovely bit with a buried QANTAS jet, the entire passage featuring Helen Buday as the leader of some outback clan of lost children is terminally dull. It's at this point where it went from being a twisted fantasy film and became family friendly drivel. Thanks then to George Miller for at least amping up the energy in that final action sequence. I could have done without Angry Anderson's dopey slapstick, but you take what you can get of Miller's skill. Much like Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet, Mad Mad: Beyond Thunderdome is almost unbelievable as a major motion picture, but it is and I respect it a hell of a lot more than I would a gentrified, watered down continuation of the Mad Max story, which it easily could have been.

However, I don't think I've ever met someone who didn't think the film's greatest asset was Tina Turner. Coming directly on the heels of her brilliant Private Dancer comeback album in 1984, Turner's performance as "Auntie Entity" is by far the film's strongest part. She has such presence, clothed in her overflowing and yet risque, heavily shoulder padded chainmail outfit and with a head of hair that defies logic, Turner is a breath of fresh air. It's a shame she never tried to make a career out of her acting as she was also the best thing about Tommy some years prior.

Of course, Beyond Thunderdome's largest imprint upon the world has been Turner's theme song "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)". Not just one of my favourite Turner songs, but one of my favourite songs period and one of the greatest ever original soundtrack songs of all time. Proof that a choir can make any song ten times better, it certainly helps that the production team behind "What's Love Got to Do With It" did such a bang up job in the first place. And how about those vocals? Turner's other soundtrack addition was the Grammy-winning "One of the Living" and it too is a doozy. Watch them below along with my all time favourite Turner tune, "Better be Good to Me".


It's interesting to note that the Mad Max films are one of only three trilogies to be found within the history of Australian cinema. Unless I'm forgetting something, which could very possibly be the case, the Alvin Purple movies were first with it's third film releasing in 1984. Beyond Thunderdome rounded out the Mad Max trilogy in 1985 - and, for the record, it made $36mil at the American box office - whilst Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee series is the most recent trilogy I can recall. Are there any I have forgotten? Will we get a third Wog Boy?

1 comment:

ht said...

Hi there,

I read this post when you wrote it, and like you couldn't think of any other Australian trilogies. But the idea must have working away at the back of my mind, because one occured to me out of nowhere - the Dad and Dave/On Our Selection films, which I think there are at least three of.