Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Home Video

All Revved Up on Two Continents

January 03, 2002|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Vroom! Vroom!

The new year begins with the release of two high-octane thrillers on DVD: the 1979 Australian classic "Mad Max," featuring Mel Gibson in his first starring role, and last year's box-office hit "The Fast and the Furious."

The digital edition of "Mad Max" (MGM, $20) is a pedal-to-the-metal ride. In this post-apocalyptic thriller, vicious motorcycle gangs rule the countryside and it's up to a group of devoted police officers to stop them. But when one particularly nasty gang, led by the ruthless Toecutter, murders the wife and child of officer Max Rockatansky (Gibson), the policeman goes into a mad frenzy and seeks to avenge their deaths. The fast-paced film is filled with exciting action stunts--all done way before digital effects.

When American International Pictures released "Mad Max" in the U.S. in 1980, the studio scrubbed the original Australian soundtrack and replaced it with one that was completely dubbed in by American actors. Thankfully, the digital edition restores the original Australian soundtrack. But viewers who have trouble understanding the Aussies have the option of listening to the American version.

The DVD also features the original trailer and a documentary, "Mel Gibson: The Birth of the Star," which examines his early career at acting school in Australia and features interviews with his friends and even his acting teacher. The narration, though, is so florid it's laughable. "Max Max: The Film Phenomenon" focuses on the film's production and how all the dangerous car and motorcycle stunts were created. However, a lot of the impact of the documentary is negated by the overdramatic narration.

Though director George Miller isn't involved in the DVD, special effects coordinator Chris Murray, cinematographer David Eggby and production designer Jon Dowding supply the interesting commentary. Rounding out the disc is an animated "Road Rants Facts" trivia feature.

Unlike "Mad Max," Rob Cohen's street race thriller "The Fast and the Furious" (Universal, $27) is chock full of special effects. In fact, one of the early street-race sequences was all done digitally. Loosely based on a Vibe magazine article about street racing clubs, "The Fast and the Furious" stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez.

The exciting digital edition includes a crisp wide-screen transfer of the film; talent files; production notes; a fun behind-the-scenes look at a stunt shot from eight camera angles; an interactive special effects feature that looks at how different footage was combined to create a stunt sequence; a visual effects montage of the first race; the article "Racer X," on which the film is based; a featurette on why a violent scene was toned down for the film to get a PG-13 rating; deleted scenes with commentary from director Cohen; music videos; storyboard-to-final-feature comparison; and inspired commentary from Cohen.

Cohen admits that when he was first approached to do the film, he read the Vibe magazine article and didn't think it would work as a movie. But a few nights later, he went to watch illegal street racing in San Fernando and was hooked. He saw the film as sort of a street opera, a la "West Side Story," and used a lot of the real racers as extras in the film. He also envisions "The Fast and the Furious" as sort of a western--especially the sequence in which the masked street racers carjack a truck filled with electronic goodies. That scene, Cohen says, is his tribute to John Ford's 1939 classic "Stagecoach."

*

The delightful 1965 CBS telecast "Cinderella," the only TV musical penned by the great Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, is making its DVD debut (Columbia TriStar, $25) this week. Rodgers & Hammerstein originally wrote the musical for the live 1957 CBS broadcast starring Julie Andrews as Cinderella. This version stars then-18-year-old Lesley Ann Warren, Ginger Rogers, Walter Pidgeon, Celeste Holm and Stuart Damon as Prince Charming. The lovely DVD includes filmographies, bonus trailers, digitally mastered audio and video and a short but sweet retrospective look at the production, including new interviews with Warren, Damon (who replaced the originally cast Jack Jones) and Holm.

*

Though audiences didn't flock to the offbeat comedy "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension" back in 1984, it has developed a cult following over the past 17 years. Cult status notwithstanding, it's still an acquired taste that's too hip and precious for its own good. Peter Weller plays Buckaroo Banzai, a brilliant brain surgeon and rock star who has made scientific history by using his Oscillation Overthruster to become the first man to travel the eighth dimension. However, his mortal enemy, Dr. Lizardo (John Lithgow), wants to steal the Overthruster and bring an evil army of aliens back to take over the universe. Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin and Christopher Lloyd are among the co-stars.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|