Legendary filmmaking icon, Roger Corman, is back with his most outrageous film yet in this sensational, action-packed and darkly humorous reboot of the original Death Race 2000! It's the year 2050 and America is controlled by an all-powerful corporate government ruled by The Chairman (Malcolm McDowell). The masses have been brainwashed with violent virtual-reality entertainment. The event of the year is the Death Race, in which a motley crew of violent drivers compete in a cross-country road race, scoring points for shamelessly running people over and driving each other off the road. The reigning champion and fan favorite, Frankenstein (Manu Bennett), who's half-man half-machine, wants to take the crown, but his rebel spy co-pilot threatens his legacy.
Back in 1975, filmmaking icon Roger Corman had an idea that resulted in 'Death Race 2000'. The film featured characters who race their insane cars across the country, gaining points for death and destruction along the way, with a bit of social and political commentary on our society added in for good measure. David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone were even in the film. 'Death Race 2000' went on to become a cult film, popular amongst film buffs for years until 2008 came around and it was remade and even spawned two sequels. Now we are in 2017 and we have yet another 'Death Race' film with Roger Corman back again producing the film, now titled 'Death Race 2050'.
You can call this a remake, a sequel, or revamp to the series, but whatever you call it, you can be sure to have a ton of fun with it, because it doesn't shy away from its silly over-the-top violence or very current political and social commentary, borrowing very similar ideas from 'Idiocracy' and 'The Hunger Games'. Corman even stated he had the idea for 'Death Race 2050' after an interview with a journalist who stated that 'The Hunger Games' was very similar to his original 'Death Race 2000' film, which shows through these over-the-top characters and plot devices. The country is now called the United Corporations of America and is run by Malcolm McDowell, who is a parody of Donald Trump who dresses like one of the wealthy citizens in 'The Hunger Games'.
In order to curb the overpopulation problem, the annual 'Death Race' is held where a group of wild individuals race across country in their ridiculous looking cars and again, gain points for killing people or blowing things up, and of course, there is no shortage of that. The main racers are a returning Frankenstein (Manu Bennett), Jed Perfectus (a guy who is only worried about his good looks), Minerva (a celebrity who sings a song with only two lyrics - "Drive Drive - Kill Kill"), a female cult leader who loves destroying everything in her path, and even a car that is run by A.I. In this new "Idiocracy" world, everyone wears VR helmets with each driver having a journalist with a camera sitting in the passenger seat so that everyone watching can get a front row view of the carnage, in which most citizens even put themselves in harm's way to become famous for a second, even if it means their bloody, violent death. Of course, Corman wanted to hit home on our current political and social state of affairs in this country, and while it's a bit over-the-top, it's not too far off from what we've seen on various news stations every week.
Being a Roger Corman production, you can expect a fairly inexpensive looking film with shoddy visual effects, ridiculous bloody body parts flying all over the screen, and a screenplay that's so bad that you can't help but laugh the whole way through the film. There are some decent practical stunts and explosions, which is always nice to see in today's CGI world, and it adds a bit of the nostalgic factor to the original in that aspect. 'Death Race 2050' only knows one speed, and that's 200 mph from start to finish and never lets up. Yes, this film is dumb, ridiculous, and over-the-top silly and full of blood and guts, but it's damn fun, and proves Roger Corman still has a penchant for entertaining us genre fans.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Death Race 2050' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc, the DVD copy, and an insert for the digital download code from Universal Pictures and is Region A Locked. The discs are housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
'Death Race 2050' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I do wish this picture had some form of grain to it, that kept a filmic look like its 1975 predecessor did, but I digress. Instead, this has a crisp, clear, digital look to it, as if this film was put through the digital car wash and not given a grindhouse type of feel. There are pros and cons to that for sure. The detail is very sharp and vivid from start to finish, which gives the cheap makeup and visual effects a spotlight.
Needless to say, you can tell what is fake and what is real here, and just how much money or lack thereof was spent on the film. The detail in the vehicles look excellent as well as all the imperfections in the leather and spandex costumes. The blood and gore look great here too. With this digital look, the image looks a bit flat though, not giving the picture enough depth of the barren landscapes.
Colors are bright and pop right off screen, especially with the primary colored costumes, cars, and very red blood that seems to burst every couple of minutes. There is some aliasing throughout the film, which is a result in the digital look of the film, but all other compression problems are very light. The black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that should satisfy your curiosity on hearing all sounds of splatters, explosions, or gooey guts imploding. Sound effects are loud and robust throughout the film and pack a punch with each collision, punch, kick, and explosion with great directionality. The rear speakers pick up the great ambient sounds of people yelling, screaming, and exploding in the distance with great blood splatter sound effects.
The music is insane, loud, and adds to the chaotic nature of each scene without drowning out any other sound aspect. The dialogue is always clear and easy to to follow, even over the engine roars and other loud explosions, and are free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. The low end packs some great bass without going into rocky territory too, leaving this audio presentation with good marks.
The Making of Roger Corman's 'Death Race 2050' (HD, 11 Mins.) - The cast and crew, including Roger Corman, discuss the history of the franchise, themes, characters, creative decisions, effects, stunts, and feel of the film. There are interviews, as well as behind the scenes footage here.
The Look of 2050 (HD, 7 Mins.) - This looks at the South American production, costumes, and location shoots of the film.
Cars! Cars! Cars! (HD, 5 Mins.) - Here we see all of the vehicles and how they were made and used in the film.
Cast Car Tours (HD, 9 Mins.) - Another look at each car and actor who drove them in the film.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 Mins.) - There are ten deleted scenes here, all of which are fun, hilarious, and worth watching if you enjoyed the film.
'Death Race 2050' won't win any awards, but it's a damn fun film that entertains while satarizing the current state of affairs in the United States, which is just what Roger Corman wants to do. Don't get me wrong, this film is silly, ridiculous, stupid, and low budget, but it's highly entertaining, and you'll laugh and yell at each explosion and over-the-top story line. The video and audio presentations are both great, and the extras offer some fun and informative behind the scenes information. Despite his age, Roger Corman still can put on a fun, bloody mess of a movie. For the fans!