15 May

Mad Max: The Road Warrior

I’m just here for the gasoline.

– Mad Max

The Set Up

Mad Max: Fury Road is finally here, and it looks like it’s going to be the coolest car movie since Furious 7. As of the time of this post, Fury Road has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, with only one rotten review, and even that review admits that the movie is “visually spectacular.” We are all stoked about Fury Road, and prepared for this huge release by watching it’s precursor, Mad Max: The Road Warrior.

The Meal

What better way to watch a post-apocalyptic movie than by cooking a post-apocalyptic meal? We started our meal off with chapulines, Ben’s self-proclaimed “food of the future.” Supposedly, grasshoppers actually yield more grams of protein per liter of water than any of the farm animals we eat today. If the California drought works its way across the States, we may all be relying on grasshoppers as our main source of protein within our lifetimes. But don’t take our word for it

Future food or not, we were all rather dubious about how good grasshoppers could actually taste before we went to Poquitos and tried their chapulines. We were pleasantly surprised. The chapulines were salty, crunchy, and as satisfying to snack on as popcorn. Perhaps the future won’t be as bleak as we had imagined.

Our next course was more directly inspired by Mad Max. In the movie, Max treats himself to a can of Dinki-Di Meat and Vegie [sic] dog food, which we tried our best to recreate. We cooked up a stew of beef, carrots, celery, leeks, and potatoes, and served it in Dinki-Di cans. Just like when we ate the grasshoppers, the hardest part of eating this meal was dealing with the cognitive dissonance. Scooping food out of a dog food can is hardly appetizing, but once the stew makes it to your mouth, you’re ready to change your tune. Make it at home using our recipe on Kitchenbowl.

For dessert, we made some Twinkie cupcakes as an homage to the only dessert that’s likely to survive the apocalypse. If everyone is really going to be eating this well after the world ends, there’s nothing to be scared of.

The Drinks

We had no shortage of drink ideas inspired by Mad Max. We started off with Oil Spills, a split shot made up of a Goldschläger base and topped off with a Jägermeister slick. In the apocalyptic world of The Road Warrior, oil, or the “precious juice,” is incredibly scarce, so this shot felt like an appropriate drink for our menu. See how we made it here.

Inspired by the fire nature of the film, we also made flaming Sambuca shots, with three coffee beans for added flavor and aroma. Ben, due to his turbulent history with Sambuca, struggled to swallow this one. Learn how to make it here.

We closed out with Fosters, because Australia.

The Rules

  1. Drink whenever someone eats Dinki-Di’s.
  2. Drink whenever someone “bites the dust.”
  3. Drink whenever someone mentions oil.

The Movie

Mad Max: The Road Warrior takes place after a gasoline shortage and terrible war leave the world in shambles. The entire plot of the movie can be summed up in one sentence: two parties want the same gas. We don’t know why they want the gas so badly, since the only time anyone uses gas in this movie is to drive around, usually in order to get more gas. The gas in The Road Warrior is certainly the longest lasting MacGuffin out of all the movies we’ve watched. There is no end goal for this gasoline, and we are never given a reason to worry about what would happen to the characters if they don’t get gasoline. We just have to accept that the characters want it because the characters want it. Any reasons for wanting the gas are left up to the audience to imagine.

On the other hand, another way to look at the gasoline MacGuffin is as a minimalist storytelling device that George Miller uses to develop the setting without delving too far into the extraneous details such as how the gas scarcity has impacted the world. In this way, he invites the audience to come along for the ride and just experience the world for what is it or to imagine it as we want it to be. We imagine that the citizens in The Road Warrior are unwilling to part with gas because it is what allows their machines to run, and people are holding on to this small triumph of humanity still left in the world. Part of the inherent insanity and intrigue of the Mad Max universe is it’s constantly questioning what is human and what is inhuman, what is sanity and what is insanity, what is normal and what is strange.

For what is ostensibly an action movie, The Road Warrior had a hell of a lot of slow moments. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with having a slow moment in an action movie. Many directors like to use this time to work on fleshing out backstories, cracking a couple jokes, or developing characters, but The Road Warrior does none of this. Instead, The Road Warrior uses its down time in the first two-thirds of the movie to building up tension for the finale, which is perhaps one of the most influential action sequences in all of cinematic history. The quieter moments of the film provide the viewer an opportunity to process the arduousness and strife that’s ever present in Mad Max’s world. It’s a world that is at times frightening and disgusting, yet still packs an exhilarating punch in just 90 minutes. The pacing and style of action movies has changed dramatically over the last 35 years, which has created new expectations for today’s audience. The pacing of The Road Warrior does not conform to these new standards, which can leave a contemporary audience left wanting. Hey, that’s just the world we live in. After watching seven Fast and Furious movies, of course The Road Warrior is going to feel slow in comparison. But we recognize that without The Road Warrior, there might not have even been the air plane chase at the end of Fast and Furious 6. Nevertheless, The Road Warrior provides an altogether compelling narrative and wows us with a setting more developed and imagery more consistent than many modern movies.

The all-leather ensembles in this movie were a sight to behold.  Apparently as soon as the apocalypse started, everyone bolted to the nearest leather store and grabbed the outfit they always wanted to wear but never thought they could pull off. There’s no one left to judge, so why not? Leather has also long been a staple for motorcyclists because of its protective properties, so it follows that in a world obsessed with preserving humanity’s capability to drive, they would primarily wear the clothing best suited for that activity. Plus, the subtle stylized touches like Mad Max’s one-sleeved leather jacket were just fun to observe.

Our views diverged with regard to Mel Gibson’s acting, so to properly express our views, we’re going to divide up our views as follows:

Andre’s Take: The costumes had more character than any of the actors. Although none of the actors were that great, Mel Gibson’s performance was especially unforgivable. As the lead, it was up to Mel Gibson more than anyone else to give us a reason to care about, at the very least, even one of the characters in the movie, and he failed in that regard. He displayed zero emotion throughout the whole film, not once getting angry enough to earn the “mad” moniker. It’s hard to believe that Mel Gibson got his start as an actor from this series, because it’s hard to believe anyone would want to hire him after seeing his performance.

Ben’s Take: After spending a few hours thinking about this movie off and on throughout the day, I have come to the interpretation that Mad Max isn’t mad by our standards, but in the world he lives in, the world he earned his epithet, he is considered crazy and “mad.” Those who are deranged, and crazy, fighting over scraps in a desolate world while wearing extravagant costumes are what his world considers normal. Along comes a silent man, who lacks emotion as he has been beaten down and seen horrors no one should see, and he is the one off his rocker. Mel Gibson inhabited a man who was simple and toned down, a character that we see again in a movie like Drive, and he delivered a solid performance based on the direction I feel he was given, and what George Miller wanted.

Leanna’s Take: Why are we spending so much time on Max? The dog was clearly the real star of the film…

The Road Warrior was at times a little too slow for our NOs-saturated tastes, but was still an exhilarating experience that has set the bar for action movie sequences and for the post-apocalyptic genre. It transports you to another world for 90 minutes and gives a snapshot of what it is like to live there. Does it answer every question you may have about the world? No. Some may find the lack of detail lazy, while others may enjoy filling in the gaps in the story with their own imagination. We were split between us on whether we liked the minimalist storytelling approach or not. In any case, we can agree that George Miller has succeed in giving us a glimpse at something foreign, where the divergent is the norm, and those who are truly normal are mad.

The Reviews

Andre: Zzz. For a movie rated 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, I expected a hell of a lot more out of The Road Warrior. Mel Gibson doesn’t act at all in the movie, he just flatly delivers his lines with an unchanging scowl. The plot is practically nonexistent. The action sequences are okay but not spectacular by my standards. The Road Warrior wasn’t an especially bad movie, which is unfortunate, because I enjoy the right kind of bad movie. Worse, it’s just mediocre, and mediocre doesn’t do it for me.

Leanna: 9 gallons out of 10. As someone who remembers watching the Terminator series, Water World, Judge Dredd and other “in the not so distant future” films from a young age, I could very much appreciate how much Mad Max contributed to their development. I’m still a bit of dystopian future junkie, and Mad Max’s grim, dry, oil-less world is easy to get caught up in given reality’s current decline in resources and increase in global temperatures… Getting a little too heavy there with that last bit so I’ll end with this: If you like action movies and those set in post-apocalyptic times, you owe Mad Max: The Road Warrior a watch since it helped define those genres.

Ben: 95%. Max Max: The Road Warrior is first and foremost an incredibly influential film. Since its release in the early 1980s, it has gone on to shape how we view the post-apocalypse and action films since then. And as for the movie itself, with its beautiful shots, minimalist plot, and incredible action scenes, the movie still holds up after all these years. It is an impressive snapshot of humanity in decline, where what is deviant is accepted and what was once accepted is now mad. Max himself is wandering from one desolated plain to the next continuing some ill-advised quest for some sense of humanity that no longer exists. There is an artistic sense of existential crisis in that pursuit, and it is perfectly captured in The Road Warrior.

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