Death Race 2050 is the reboot of the 1975 classic about a bloody road race. The premise of the new one, produced by Roger Corman, is much the same: a satirical, bloody take on modern politics and consumerism. The film feels like a B-movie, and while that is good for the legacy the film is standing up to, parts of the movie feel like they were ripped right from 1975, be they editing techniques, plot devices, or character profiles.
Predictable, but fun:
Now, to be straight forward, Death Race 2050 isn’t breaking new ground. The movie follows five racers as they make their way across the future version of the continental United States. Now named the United Corporations of America, the film plays up the consumerism angle by making every town the racers go through have something to do with a corporation. For instance, one is named after Wal-Mart.
I like this. It’s very over the top, but it goes a long way to hammer home the comedy and point of the movie. The locations seem to be super-stereotyped, including one instance where the racers go through southern states where the pedestrians, who the racers kill for points, shoot back.
This, coupled with the “checkpoint” scenes go a long way to make sure that the movie doesn’t feel like it is dragging at any one point. As soon as one piece begins to wear out it’s welcome, it ends.
There are a few plot points the movie includes that it doesn’t need to, in my opinion. These include the contrived romances and parts where the viewers are seen reacting to the race. The inclusions of these don’t hurt the film too much, but the over the top nature of the movie would be better if they were removed or made more over the top.
The conclusion of the film is satisfying as well. Without giving spoilers, it is safe to say that the ending has a cathartic satisfaction.
Over the top cinematography:
The one thing the movie has going for it consistently is its nature as an over the top and ridiculous escape intoa more politically messed up world. The images presented throughout the film are tons of fun, but a lot of the time, the fakeness of the images is just a tad too much.
A common example is whenever a character is decapitated. This happens a lot, and the head, or face, or whatever, always looks as though it is made out of paper. With the production value for the rest of the film looking arguably great, it is a shame to see the ball dropped so often when people die. It might be a part of the film making and intentional, but after the fifth paper-looking body part, it really begins to get old.
Value as satire:
When you look up any Death Race film, you’re likely to see that it is presented as a political and over the top satire. This is true, and it is certainly a satire, if only because it presents an extrapolated view of America in such an over the top way.
The way the masses are presented, having a 99 percent unemployment rate and perfectly willing to get slaughtered by racers seems to follow a bit in the steps of portraying the future as a sinister and idiotic time period. The characters are caricatures themselves. Tammy the Terrorist is an American jihadist, preaching death to non believers of the American way, Minerva is a hip hop star whose latest hit is called “Drive, Drive, Kill, Kill,” and Jed Perfectus is a genetically man built to win.
If you have a sense of humor, as dark as it needs to be, Death Race should be valuable as a piece of satire.
A fun, if not great ride:
Death Race 2050 is a B-movie about people literally driving across country and killing as many people as possible. I’m not sure any such movie would ever reach critical success. Nonetheless, Death Race 2050 is a fun and very funny (at times) look into the future of America as a deeply consumerist society. It isn’t for everyone, but fans of violent b-films will likely find Death Race 2050 worth at least one viewing.
Roger Corman’s Death Race: 2050 is available now on DVD & Blu-ray