Death Race 2050 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 16, 2017 by Dennis Amith
I think it’s great to have a Roger Corman “Death Race” sequel. A film that maintains elements of the original film. While the political message resides in each character, “Death Race 2050” is a dark comedy that may not be for everyone. But for those who enjoyed the original and love Roger Corman B-films, may enjoy G.J. Echternkamp’s “Death Race 2050”.
TITLE: Death Race 2050
FILM RELEASE: 2017
DURATION: 1 Hr. and 33 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (1:78:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Espanol and French DTS Digital Surround 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Espanol and Francais
COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: January 17, 2017
Directed by G.J. Echternkamp
Written by G.J. Echternkamp, Matt Yamashita
Produced by Roger Corman
Executive Producer: Julie Corman
Edited by G.J. Echternkamp
Casting by Jan Glaser
Manu Bennett as Frankenstein
Malcolm McDowell as Chairman
Marci Miller as Annie Sullivan
Burt Grinstead as Jed Perfectus
Folake Olowofoyeku as Minerva Jefferson
Anessa Ramsey as Tammy
Yancy Butler as Alexis Hamilton
Charlie Farrell as JB
Shanna Olson as Grace Tickle
D.C. Douglas as the voice of Abe
Sebastian Llosa as Steve
Emilio Montero as Pablo Zapata
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.
In 1975, the cult political satire action film “Death Race 2000” directed by Paul Bartel and starring David Carradine, Simone Griffeth and Sylvester Stallone would become a cult film that would entertain generations decade after decade.
A screenplay based on a short story “The Racer” by lb Melchior, the “Death Race” franchise would feature “Death Race”, “Death Race 2″” and “Death Race 3: Inferno”.
While the 2008 remake and sequels were more of an action-packed storylines revolving around the battle of the “Death Race” and the collapse of the economy, the original 1975 was more outlandish but focused on the sport and an agency trying to put an end to the immorality of the death race.
With the release of the 2017 film “Death Race 2050”, the film is considered by producer Roger Corman to be the sequel to the 1975 film. Wanting to bring back the dark satire and political commentary.
Directed by G.J. Echternkamp (“Hard Candy”, “Frank and Cindy”, “A Necessary Death”) and co-written with Matt Yamashita (“Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda”, “Virtually Heroes”, “Captain Fork”), “Death Race 2050” stars Manu Bennet (“The Hobbit” films, “30 Days of Night”), Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”, “Easy A”), Marci Mller (“American Fable”, “Days of Our Lives”), Burt Grinstead (“Eat with Me”, “Written By”), Folake Olowfoyeku (“Modern Family”, “Westworld”), Anessa Ramsey (“The Signal”, “YellowBrickRoad”, “Footloose”).
The film is a direct-to-video film and will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
“Death Race 2050” takes place in a time in which America is still in turmoil and the USA has become a giant corporate conglomerate overseen by the The Chairman (portrayed by Malcolm McDowell).
The people have been brainwashed with virtual reality entertainment and the highly anticipated event that everyone is awaiting for is the Death Race, a cross-country road race in which competitors earn points by running over pedestrians and driving each other off the road.
The legendary racer, Frankenstein (now played by Manu Bennett) is still the man to beat and the half-man, half-machine wants to win again, but he is very suspicious about his co-driver Annie Sullivan (portrayed by Marci Miller).
Meanwhile, the duo face opposition against egotistical and sexually ambiguous Jed Perfectus (portrayed by Burt Grinstead); the angry at White people, Minerva Jefferson (portrayed by Folake Olowofoyeku); a killing self-driving car known as Abe (voiced by D.C. Douglas); the religious fanatic of Saint Elvis Presley named Tammy (portrayed by Anessa Ramsey) and others.
Who will win the Death Race?
“Death Race 2050” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). Featuring close-ups with very good detail, There is a slight use of cool look for the film but overall picture quality is very good.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Death Race 2050” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Espanol and Francais DTS Digital Surround 5.1. Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music, the film also has a lot of action, so there is good utilization of the surround channels for the various explosions to car/motorcycle revving heard throughout the film.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Espanol and Francais.
“Death Race 2050” comes with the following special features:
- The Making of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 – (10:16) Roger Corman and the cast discuss the film.
- The Look of 2050 – (6:22) A featurette about shooting the film in South America.
- Cars! Cars! Cars! – (4:33) A featurette about the cars utilized for the film and how each has a unique representation of the characters that drive them.
- Cast Car Tours – (8:30) The cast member showcases their character’s cars.
- Deleted Scenes – (5:31) Featuring ten deleted scenes (without the post-production CG).
“Death Race 2050” comes with a slipcover, DVD and UltraViolet code.
Roger Corman, the legendary B-movie producer, hit a nerve when he created the 1975 film “Death Parade 2000”.
A film that poked fun on the politics of the era, Corman had felt that the recent “Death Parade” films have strayed far from the original, becoming action-packed films without the political commentary and dark satire.
And so, Corman wanted to create a sequel when an Italian journalist interviewed Corman and talked to him about how “The Hunger Games” was similar to Corman’s original film. And sure enough, “Death Race 2050” was made.
The film was created before the 2016 Presidential Election and so the film, which is wild, crazy and audacious, Corman put a lot of thought into his characters. While The Chairman is somewhat of a poke at our new United States President, reading interviews, Corman’s characters for “Death Race 2050” somewhat mirrors situations in today’s world.
Tammy is a character who is a religious fanatic dedicated to Saint Elvis Presley and those who follow the religion will do anything to make sure her vision through violence is carried out. Tammy is no doubt a character that exhibits terrorist fundamentalism.
Abe, the self-driving car is rather interesting because of the emergence of self-driving cars. While talking cars have been around as seen in “Knight Rider” and “The Love Bug”, the self-driving car going rogue is no doubt a dig at today’s technological leaning towards self-driving cars.
While the film was made in 2016 and the newer “Death Race” films utilizing technology and violent weaponry, “Death Race 2050” would not be a Corman film without it’s B-film style (with so-so acting) and a combining of old technology with modern technology.
While “Death Race 2000” was no doubt a sci-fi film of its time with fascinating use of violence with political commentary and dark satire, “Death Race 2050” is all over the place.
Being a B-movie, CG explosions look fake, body parts look fake but this is part of what one tends to expect from a Roger Corman film. Making films with a low budget and making do with what you have.
And whether or not one enjoys the film, it’s all subjective.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good and lossless audio features a good balance of crystal clear dialogue and a rockin’ soundtrack plus a good use of surround use through the film’s action sequences. And insightful special features on the making of the film and the utilization of the vehicles for the film.
But while the original Roger Corman “Death Race 2000” will be remembered for being audacious and fresh for its time to become a cult favorite. But there are so many parody films that have come out in the past 40-years and the times have surely changed. Not just the politics, the economics but also the social aspect but also how political messages are delivered in cinema.
Overall, “Death Race 2050” is audacious, crazy and funny and I enjoyed its poke on today’s modern society. If anything, the film is an escape from reality. And one should not watch this film expecting it to be like any of the previous “Death Race” films released in recent years or they may be disappointed.
Overall, I think it’s great to have a Roger Corman “Death Race” sequel. A film that maintains elements of the original film. While the political message resides in each character, “Death Race 2050” is a dark comedy that may not be for everyone. But for those who enjoyed the original and love Roger Corman B-films, may enjoy G.J. Echternkamp’s “Death Race 2050”.
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