BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 is the film America needs right now. Loaded with comments about where we are headed as a nation, the b-movie – a new release from New Horizons and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment – races across a post-apocalyptic future in which cancer has been cured, people live forever, and pedestrians are killed for points in a high-stakes race all within these United Corporations of America.
Population control gets a new name.
At this point in our political present, you cannot tell me that the cold, violent, and artificial reality that Death Race 2050 presents us with couldn’t become a possibility. It appears as if Americans have simply given up and the film addresses that. Robots have taken over and corporations have dialed down their work force. Americans don’t work anymore. The robots do that. It is a life of complicated leisure because the rich horde the money, the rest of the country has none of it, and extremely violent sports have become our ONE past time.
According to screenwriters G.J. Echternkamp (who also directed) and Matt Yamashita, America has become an isolated place of massive amounts of wealth in the hands of a very few amount of men and women. Outside of the few remaining skyscrapers, America is a large wasteland of decay, soda cans, and poverty.
Even the racers reflect the consumer-minded pop culture that has been saturated beyond belief. There’s the four-time champion, a genetically engineered driver with masculinity issues, a religious zealot who prays to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and a popular rapper with a new hit single by the name of “Drive, Drive, Kill, Kill”. Add a vehicle controlled by AI and piloted by an oversexed woman and you have all the racers in this contest and each one has their fans.
Green screens and CGI might dominate this future, but it feels oh so very real to me and it is all best represented here by the towering performance of Malcolm McDowell as The Chairman, who “hosts” the race via hologram and secretly plots to overthrow the race’s fan-favorite of Frankenstein (Manu Bennett) when he refuses to follow the rules after being assigned a co-pilot (and double agent), Annie Sullivan (Marci Miller). You see, The Chairman, well, he’s easily offended, reacts verbally without thinking, and has a really bad hairpiece…hmmm.
Sure, Death Race 2050 is schlocky and loaded with iffy green-screened effects and gamey CGI whatnot, but its energy and its overall relevancy is completely bonkers. The gruesome angle is amped up, so too are the goofy elements. But director G.J. Echternkamp nails everything that made the original Death Race 2000 so insanely special, updating our reliance on technology and commenting on these United Corporations of America.
So grab a case of beer and ease on back. The engines are purring and ready to kill, kill, and kill again. Ours is a broken society. And Death Race 2050 beings the dark satire we’re going to need to get through the coming shit storm.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 93 mins
Director: G.J. Echternkamp
Writer: G.J. Echternkamp
Cast: Manu Bennett, Malcolm McDowell, Marci Miller
Genre: Comedy | Action
Tagline: Roger Corman's Death Race 2050
Memorable Movie Quote: "I think Frankenstein will be extinct tomorrow."
Release Date: No American theatrical distribution
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: January 17, 2017
Synopsis: The year 2050 the planet has become overpopulated, to help control population the government develops a race. The Death Race. Annually competitors race across the country scoring points for killing people with their vehicles.
Home Video Distributor: Universal Studios
Available on Blu-ray - January 17, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; iTunes digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: Region A
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s 1080p transfer is highly detailed and crisp even if its visual intensity is a bit undone by the wonky special effects. They are a bit better in resolution than the typical Syfy movie, but not by much. There’s a lot going on in the images and most – complete with drones and techy stuff in backgrounds – are handled well enough. Brown, black, and yellows are the strongest. Black levels are strong, too, providing a deep look at shadowy motel rooms and governmental rooms. The sound is delivered in a very active DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix.
While we don’t get a commentary track, the blu-ray comes equipped with a decent 10-minute look at the making of the film. It features interviews with Roger Corman, director G.J. Echternkamp, and stars Manu Bennett, Malcolm McDowell, Marci Miller, Burt Grinstead, Folake Olowofoyeku, and Anessa Ramsey. Corman and Echternkamp return on another featurette to talk about the look of the sequel, and there is a look at the cheapo build of the cars, a tour of each car, and a good amount of deleted scenes. A DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet: disc is included.
- The Making of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 (10 min)
- The Look of 2050 (6 min)
- Cars! Cars! Cars! (4 min)
- Cast Car Tours (8 min)
- Deleted Scenes (6 min)