There are moments in your life when you realize you found a movie a film producer or director originally wanted to make–finally getting the vision they had on film. I feel this is exactly what happened when–back in 1975–Roger Corman produced the cult classic, Death Race 2000. And now, with 2017’s Death Race 2050, he’s able to correct the problems with the films third act.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the original film–how could you not? It was made during a time of outrageous political social upheaval in the United States coming off the notorious Nixon Watergate scandal. Nihilism was thick in the air and Americans weren’t feeling good about themselves after their POTUS, Richard Nixon, lied to them and felt he was above the law. It seemed only fitting a cynical satire like DR2K would be made.
Fast forward and we Americans find ourselves in a similar situation with a certain glowing Orange Man. So imagine my absolute happiness Roger Corman decided it was time to dust off a film full of social satire, punctuated with lots of political commentary, slick with the gore of dead pedestrians. Behold the beauty that is Death Race 2050!
People are calling it a sequel but as a fan of the original who has seen it more times than I can count, it is pretty much a remake following the narrative structure of the 1975 film almost perfectly. Notice I said “almost.”
While the first one was wild and over-the-top this one takes over-the-top! to a new level by pouring steroids down its throat, cranking it to eleven and then ripping the knob off!
Manu Bennett (Arrow) plays Frankenstein, champion of the Death Race; a man who’s job is to race, kill pedestrians to entertain the masses (and score points) and has a soft spot for kittens. The scores for killing pedestrians is the same as in the original film: 10 points for Adults, 20 points for children and 50 points for senior citizens. Why kill innocent citizens? Because cancer has been cured and people are living too long. Furthermore, unemployment is at 99.93% and the people need something to do.
To further ratchet up the mayhem, there is cast of wild and crazy racers for Frankenstein to go up against ranging from bible-thumping, Tammy the Terrorist (Anessa Ramsey), with her cult of followers who throw themselves in front of her car to get her ahead in the scoreboard (and it’s hilarious!). The rest are a genetically engineered, sexually confused, Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead) to hip-hop driving queen, Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku) and an A.I. driven car called A.B.E., which is a wonderful mock of Knightrider.
It is obvious, director G.J. Echternkamp is a fan of the original because he has managed to correct the narrative mistakes I felt were in Death Race 2000 when it became obvious Corman was limited on the budget, running out of ideas or both. With the huge gap of time between the two films–forty-two years!–the creators had a lot to work with as far as the subject matter involving politics and social issues within our society; pulling no punches.
It’s gory! It’s packed with action and the actors–along with the production crew–look like they are having a lot of fun. What more do you want or could ask for? G.J. Echternkamp and Matt Yamashita (Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda) have written one of the most important social commentary cult classics so far of the Trump era! And it’s glorious!
And if anyone tries to take this movie seriously, that’s your first mistake. Just sit back–relax–and take in the beautiful carnage that is Death Race 2050! The hilarious political commentary is just an added bonus!