Directed by G.J. Echternkamp
It is the year 2050. Overpopulation and unemployment at 99.993% threaten the country. It is once again time for another Death Race.
I do not expect greatness from anything with Roger Corman’s name attached to it. I expect adequacy. This movie is a bit of a step up from that but not by much. It comes close to achieving low budget greatness but never quite gets there.
Malcolm McDowell plays The Chairman of The United Corporations of America. The character is supposed to be a parody of Donald Trump, but the costumes are so garish and over the top that it falls flat. If anything the character is closer to Elton John in appearance. If you lampoon someone just keep it simple.
Manu Bennett takes over the role of Death Race champion Frankenstein. In this film Frankenstein, along with the other drivers, are assigned proxies that allow the viewer at home to experience the Death Race firsthand. Annie Sullivan (Marci Miller) is assigned to him but she has ulterior motives in that she intends to kill Frankenstein because he has become a symbol.
Frankenstein has a bit of a moral code here. At one point after learning of some easy kills (you get points for killing people), he kills the people that brought them instead. It provides for a good chuckle.
There is a driver known as Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead). He is genetically engineered and sees himself as the superior driver. He is treated jokingly as a closeted homosexual here and there during the film. It is Z-level humor that even the most hack writer would avoid. They even give him a proxy in Eve Rocket (Leslie Shaw) whose advances he rebuffs.
Folake Olowofoyeku plays Minerva Jefferson who is a hip-hop artist that has become a racer. She is the type of character that is to make you say to yourself that you should not judge a book by its cover. While she may make music that is right up there with anything put out today, her beginnings as an educated intellectual reveal she just plays a stereotypical hip hop character to survive.
Tammy the Terrorist (Anessa Ramsey), a religious cult leader leads some kind of terrorist cult. She is supposed to be a redneck parody so much so that at one point she says in anger “I swear by the saint Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that trashy woman will pay!” It is a bit over the top.
Alexis Hamilton (Yancy Butler) is a resistance leader who used to be a network executive. Her resistance members are as into the Death Race as everyone else. However she is just as corrupt as anyone since she is actually in league with The Chairman.
Death Race 2050 is basically a slasher film where the kills are done in a darkly humorous way. And on that level it works. Each death is a bit stupider than the last one with the gore looking to be mostly bad CGI. On the level of commentary, it falls flat. It considers straight mockery to be commentary when that is only part of it. You also need to say something.
The movie becomes more humorous as it goes on which is a shame because it should have maintained the tone that it began with. The film was somewhat serious at the beginning and should have stuck with that rather descend into goofiness. I am not looking for a dramatic presentation but something that’s light comedy and not ridiculously bad satire.
They go for a very cheap look here which does not help. Corman productions are not high art but this is not even low art at times. It is more akin to a cheap coloring book from a deep discount retailer than anything. What could have been great low budget commentary and parody was superficial and weak because it was rushed.
Death Race 2050 is a film for Corman fans but not for the general public. In my opinion this movie focuses too much on parodying certain things and people and sacrifices story and its message in doing that. Watch it if you are a fan of Corman productions. Otherwise skip.