HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Death Race 2050
HTS Overall Score:68
Roger Corman is a legend among horror fans. He was almost a god back in the pre-90s days where he had produced and directed such horrible hits as “Piranha”, “Black Scorpion”, “Sawbones” and countless other. While he has directed a goodly share of movies in the 60s and 70s, his biggest accomplishments have always been the producing that he has undergone. The man has certainly never stopped working with a grand total of over 400 films to his name (in a producer’s standpoint) and a name that is slapped on the cover of films due to his fame. One of my favorite works of his is the classic “Death Race 2000” starring Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine. A horribly cheesy, but biting, political satire, “Death Race 2000” is one of those schlock fests that you can’t help but love in a low budget piece of garbage way. Sadly it fell out of the public eye many years ago and was only revived when Paul W.S. Anderson decided to remake the film and put Jason Statham as the lead. I’m embarrassed to say that I actually really liked “Death Race”. Statham is a personal favorite action star of mine and the film was reimagined without much of the satire and instead focused on making it a pure action movie. The film did decently enough and actually spawned to DTV sequels starring Luke Goss (which actually weren’t that bad at all really). “Death Race 2050” is actually not a continuation of those remakes, but a direct sequel to the original “Death Race 2000”. Something which piqued my curiosity immediately and had me cooking up the popcorn for a good old fashioned schlocky time.
I could go into much more detail about the history of Roger Corman and the “Death Race” saga, but really all you need to know is that “Death Race 2050” is one of the worst films I have ever seen. This coming from a man who has spent his life watching B and C and even D grade horror films like they’re going out of style. I’ve always liked Roger Corman’s satirical take on things and the goofy way in which he crafts his films, but this is an abomination. I seriously considered pouring bleach in my skull just to try and wash away the memory of ever having watched the movie. Corman and Director E.G. Echternkamp try to make “Death Race 2050” into some sort of political satire that uses elements of Arnie’s “The Running Man” combined with the old “Death Race 2000” theme and some good old fashioned parody. Sadly all but the parody is lost amidst the sea of chaos and destruction, leaving us nothing but “National Lampoon’s Death Race” as the final product.
In the future of 2050 human beings no longer work. Big corporations rule the world and use technology to do all of the heavy lifting. As a result, the world is left in squalor and mediocrity as they eat, sleep, fornicate and basically just pass the time in a miserable existence while the corporate fat cats eat, drink and are merry (hmmmm, I can kind of smell an anti-capitalist bent here methinks). In fact, the United States is no longer the United States, but the United Corporations of America (another little wink and nod to the evilness of business). With the world doing nothing but sitting on their butts all the time the corporate fat cats have come up with entertainment for the people. Entertainment that actually serves the purpose of culling the herd as the Death Race is introduced. A race where 5 racers speed across the United Corporations of America and gain points not by driving, but by killing the most number of pedestrians. The undefeated master of this race is none other than Frankenstein himself (always the masked hero of the franchise). Along with a roided up genetic freak, a hip hop singing maniac, an artificial intelligence driver and a ******* terrorist the world watches in glee as blood and carnage fuel the race to the finish line.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=88442[/img]I don’t even know where to begin. There really isn’t a story to “Death Race 2050” besides “drive, kill, drive, kill, kill, drive, kill, drive”! Corman and crew TRY to interject a tale of satire and warning for the human race. Mainly dealing with the naughtiness of corporations and how we’re all the elements of our own dystopian future. There’s even Yancy Butler (a blast from the past for sure) coming in as the leader of the resistance for a few humorous moments, but the rest of the time is spent watching Frankenstein (Manu Bennett) and his new female co-pilot (Marci Miller) race across the nation in cheaply pasted together cars. There’s some nonsense about her being a resistance fighter out to sabotage the race, but that is largely window dressing for lunacy and killing.
The best thing I can say about “Death Race 2050” is that it tries. Oh, how it tries. But sadly, that’s not really enough. Everything about the production feels cheap and silly. The over the top humor is MEANT to be satirical and funny, but it ends up just being embarrassing and cheesy to the extreme. Severed bodies fly across the screen and cheap plastic entrails are held high by the raging fans. The entire production actually looks like it was shot using maybe 10,000 dollars. The cars are basically just go carts with pasted on plastic and fiberglass to make it look “sci-fi modern”, and the outfits are the cast offs from the of “The Hunger Games” (the freakish outfits of the capitol). Hire a competent director and a cinematographer with a few handy cams and a digital mounted cam and call it a day. Vomit onto Blu-ray/DVD and call it a day.
Rated R for violence and gore throughout, language, and some sexual material and nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=88450[/img]“Death Race 2050” is naturally a digital production, and the results are rather good. There’s some aliasing here and there, and the obvious green screen use can stand out a bit, but the image itself is fairly clean and clear of digital artifacts. Clarity is sharp and fine detail abounds with Manu Bennett’s craggy face and the all too cheap set design doesn’t benefit too much from having too much shown on screen. Colors tend to be golden in hue and kind of earth and desaturated. Bright colors and primaries pop out of the background and contrast the yellowed and dusty look of the rest of the film, but it’s definitely intentional. There’s a moment near the end where you see New L.A. and the colors are natural and clean, with a very sharp look to them. Each location changes ever so slightly and takes on different color properties (the southwest is very dull and yellowed, the hotels and resting points are all garishly colored and extravagant). The blacks are deep and inky, and despite some mild washing out due to the desaturated colors, show significant shadow detail.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=88458[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is appropriately aggressive and exciting, with a ferocious layer of bass and surround activity that is fitting for a movie of its caliber. Dialog is crisp and cleanly replicated in the center channel, while the front sound stage is alive with all sorts of chaos and murder with cars roaring through the city streets. Surrounds are used extensively and are filled with the sounds of a screaming, out of control, crowd and the throbbing of engines. Directionality is quite good and you really feel like you’re in the middle of the race (as nauseating as that thought is). Simply put, it rocks.
• The Making of Roger Corman's Death Race 2050
• The Look of 2050
• Cars! Cars! Cars!
• Cast Car Tours
• Deleted Scenes
“Death Race 2050” is basically a walking, talking cartoon, complete with the Road Runner and Wiley Coyote trying to race around. If “Death Race 2050” had anything meaningful and insightful to say about society it was completely drowned and out irradiated by the sheer stupidity of the production. I would have to say that the very worst parts of “Death Race” 2008 (and the DTV sequels) are better than the best parts of “Death Race 2050”. A feat I didn’t think humanly possible. The Blu-ray itself is pretty impressive with good solid video and fantastic audio, but nothing can make up for the abomination that is the movie itself. There is no redeeming value. There is no cheesy fun to be had. “Death Race 2050” is just a movie to avoid at all costs. Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200. Just stay away.
Starring: Manu Bennett, Marci Miller, Malcolm McDowell
Directed By: G.J. Echternkamp
Written By: G.J. Echternkamp, Matt Yamashita
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DTS 5.1
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 17th 2017
Buy Death Race 2050 On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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