Death Race 2050 Blu-ray Review
It’s the single greatest sporting event known to man, filling arenas with stoked fans, all of whom hoot and holler between chugs of mega-sized tubs of popcorn and soda. It is the Death Race.
After the Chairman of the United Corporation of America (Malcolm McDowell, Rob Zombie’s 31) appears as a hologram, the guidelines are laid out: the racers will travel from Nueva York to New Los Angeles, looking for the best time and pulling in major points for offing pedestrians (10 points for an adult, 20 for children, 50 for senior citizens) along the way. While the event is the most anticipated in the country, its main purpose is to help control (that is, significantly lessen) the population.
The contestants: Tammy “The Terrorist” (Anessa Ramsey, RITES OF SPRING, a fundamentalist who launched her own religion (who also purposefully blows up 17 people before the race); hip-hop star Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku, FEMALE FIGHT CLUB); genetically-engineered hunk Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead, BETTER HALF); ABE, a self-driving car; and Frankenstein (Manu Bennett, BETA TEST), a legend in the Death Race competition. And then they’re off—screeching and swerving and shifting and revving and, yes, killing. Lots and lots of killing.
It should come as no surprise that a movie called DEATH RACE 2050 would have copious amounts of blood. What might be a bit of a shock is just how easily the pedestrians explode upon impact. Limbs fly through the air, heads splatter against windshields, torsos rip open like wet paper bags. The Super Bowl this is not…
DEATH RACE 2050 is bathed in red, but it would be unfair not to point out one of the more key components of the franchise. DEATH RACE 2050 is often quite funny and hosts some wild moments of satire, as when Minerva’s die-hard fans jump in front of her vehicle to sacrifice themselves and add to her fame. (How many Justin Bieber fans might consider doing the same?) There is also the mere fact that an event like this exists in the future. It’s not terribly realistic, but the Death Race competition are clearly as stand-in for the idea of, What sort of madness will we latch onto for the sake of entertainment? This isn’t incredible deep, but it does offer a solid backbone.
DEATH RACE 2050 is apparently set up as a sequel to 1975’s DEATH RACE 2000, also produced by Roger Corman. (Paul W.S. Anderson and Roel Reiné directed additions to the franchise between 2008 and 2013, but they were lousy, emotionless and did nothing to contribute to the edge of the original.) More than 40 years after the original, director G.J. Echternkamp (2015’s FRANK AND CINDY) has done a great job nailing the tone and mood, as well as developing colorful characters and unique kills.
This sequel may not have the grit and grime of the David Carradine-starring cult actioner, but its modernized elements help it stand on its own. DEATH RACE 2050 is an energetic and bloody trip, hardly letting up once it hits the pedal.
Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are strong (especially in the costumes) while colors are healthy and often eye-catching.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1; French DTS Digital Surround 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The audio transfer is just as noisy and ricocheting (in a good way) as fans would want it to be.
The Making of ROGER CORMAN’S DEATH RACE 2050 (10:16): Corman, director G.J. Echternkamp, Malcolm McDowell and more discuss the style, themes, special effects and more. There is also plenty of praise heaped on Corman.
The Look of 2050 (6:29) covers the locales and costumes of the movie.
Cars! Cars! Cars! (4:33) puts the vehicles under the spotlight.
Cast Car Tours (8:30): The actors who play Frankenstein, Jed, Tammy and Minerva each touch on their cars, while ABE does so in character.
Deleted Scenes (5:35): There are 10 here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Introducing Frankenstein,” “Commandments,” “Saint Marilyn,” “Tammy is Lost,” “East on Main.” “Emotional Pain,” “Tammy and Minerva at Odds,” “Perfectus Philosophy,” “Pedestrians/Lunatics/Fans” and “The Final Ride of the Abomination.”