Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hot Rod Apocalypse 3

Who's the guy who keeps Mister Dead in his pocket? That would be Max, our intrepid hero of the Hot Rod Apocalypse, that's who. He's kept busy since we last saw him. He is not the ruthless road warrior we recall from the last episode. Having traded in horse for camel power and his dog for a monkey, the man has let himself go and resembles a hungover Michael Bolton. Fortunately we are spared hearing him sing "Sitting On The Dock of the Bay."

While we know that Mr Dead likes to spend his free time in pockets, a larger question remains: who runs Bartertown? A hive of scum, villainy and pawnshop thrift, Bartertown has solved the fuel crisis. Cultivate sufficient pig exhaust and you've got biodiesel beat. The folks down at Bartertown certainly think so. But who run the place? Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome provides the answer.

Say hello to Master Blaster. He's liked by everybody but Auntie Entity, who has the idea that she runs Bartertown. Problem is, there's only one of her. She has two enormous shoulder pads, true, but who doesn't? That hardly ranks her as the big dog. Still, she's played by Tina Turner. We know she'll end up on top.

In this third part of the saga, we have to wait for a long time for hot rods to show up. It's all camels, pigs, shoulder pads and a monkey until then. Oh, and a lot of kids living down by a green pond.

Max is exiled from Bartertown. He and Auntie Entity can't agree on who is more stylish, and off to the wasteland he goes. Fortunately a tribe of children are waiting to rescue him. They live by a nice deep pond in a chasm and are waiting for Max to fly them away to Tomorrow-Morrow Land. Really. It's more interesting than it sounds.

Amidst talk of the poxyklips, Mr Dead getting the jumps of people, highscrapers, and Tomorrow-Morrow Land, it becomes evident that this gang of adolescents has cobbled together a new mythology of the world. The stories they tell and sing and chant are culled from the cultural ashes of what came before. Neat stuff. It also gives Max the opportunity to enlighten the new generation about the whereabouts of Mr Dead, taking a siesta in his pocket.

We get to see the softer side of Max. He is forced to deal with the kids now that he doesn't have a hot rod. This gives him gray hair, but he emerges a better man. Still alone at the end, but content nevertheless that there is more to life than road trips. The saga ends on a positive beat, teaching us that not every apocalypse has to be the end of the world.

In sum: Mad Max introduced us to a post-apocalyptic world where hot rods reign supreme and Max showed himself King of the Road by proving his hot rod was hotter than yours. His leather wardrobe had yours beat from the start, mate, so it was a fixed contest.

In The Road Warrior, Max proved to have the best car (and dog) in a pinch. He might have gotten banged up a bit along the way, but it made him a better driver. Go, Max, go.

Finally, he convinced a new generation there is a better way to carry on the human race than by driving hot rods; to raise pigs, for instance, and wear less shoulder pads. Though we leave Max to an uncertain fate at the end of Thunderdome, he exits on a grace note.

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