In a post-apocalyptic desert Earth, Max (Mel Gibson) has his vehicle and possessions stolen and ends up in Bartertown in an attempt to get them back. Bartertown is ruled by Aunty Entity (Tina Turner), who strikes a deal with Max - defeat Master Blaster, the two man team who keep the town running, and he can have everything he wants...
The second sequel to Mad Max was written by director George Miller and co-producer Terry Hayes. This being the eighties, with the world's population living under the fear of nuclear annihilation, apocalyptic scenarios were fairly fashionable in science fiction, and this sequel uses its increased budget to create a credible society of survivors.
Max is still one of Gibson's best roles, one that best suits him as a strong, resourceful man of action and thankfully lacking the smugness that filters through into his later performances. However, the acting honours go to Tina Turner, turning in a classy, assured example of villainy, and speaking her witty lines with sly relish. She also has huge metal shoulder pads - eat your heart out, Joan Collins.
The first half of the film is excellent, every bit the equal of Mad Max 2. Dusty, grimy Bartertown and its inhabitants are superbly portrayed, with ingenious contraptions abounding and amusingly dispreutable characters in every scene. The Thunderdome itself is set up as a gameshow of death, complete with charming host and lovely assistants, making for one of the best sequences in the series.
But just as you're settling in for the ride, the bloody kids turn up. Max stumbles across a "Lord of the Flies" style lost tribe of children who have survived a plane crash many years before and see Max as their saviour. This myth making is too much to take, as you want to get back to the action and not see our hero as a rugged nanny.
Fortunately the chase climax makes up for it, with a makeshift train speeding away with the rogues of Bartertown in hot pursuit. Something you notice about the Mad Max films is the transience of their societies - one minute you have a roof over your head, next moment your life is in ruins and you have to start all over again.
If you can forgive the dip in the middle section, Beyond Thunderdome is a sturdy sci fi action movie with a nice line in gallows humour and some excellent stunts. Watch for Angry Anderson, yes, the bloke who sang "Suddenly", who is very entertaining as one of Aunty's henchmen; the biggest role of little Angelo Rossitto's career; and a cheeky monkey. Music by Maurice Jarre, and Tina sings the theme song "We Don't Need Another Hero". One thing, though: how did the pursuing cars get over the railway bridge?
The nineties saw him offer medical drama Lorenzo's Oil (he was once a medical student) plus curious sequel Babe: Pig in the City and in the 2000s he enjoyed the international success of the animated Happy Feet and its sequel. In 2015 he successfully revived his most celebrated franchise in Mad Max: Fury Road. Not to be confused with the other Australian director George Miller.