Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Netflix: Movie Review: Death Race 2000

I remember when I was a kid just learning to drive, and my friends and I would cruise around, and we’d make the joke when stuck behind someone on a bike, that we should just run over him and get 10 points. I don’t know who said it first, but it was a running joke for as long as it was funny – and as long as we were kids.

            That pretty much sums up my thoughts on this movie.

          After watching Someone I Touched, I wanted to watch another 70's movie that was good, so I searched. I decided to stick to a movie that came out the same year as Someone I Touched, '75, unfortunately Jaws is not on instant watch, nor was Dog Day Afternoon, or any other movie that I'd rather have watched than this one. I had nothing against the movie exactly; I knew nothing of it other than my own assumptions of the movie, which turned out to be pretty correct. The movie just didn't appeal to me, but still I powered through. I took a knee at one point, falling asleep for a moment or two, and stopping the movie to finish it the next night, which I did.

            Not one for judging a book by its cover, the poster for the film does look pretty bad ass, and put me in the mood for an action movie of fast cars, bad dialogue, and sexy women, and the movie held up its end of the bargain on all three points – still, in the end I had to put that I did not enjoy the film. I almost put I liked it though, and I had to think about it for a moment (why, I’m not sure, but I did) and again, I put that I didn’t like it.
            The film is off-putting in its poor balance of seriousness and comedy; it’s more like it doesn't know which one it’s trying to be instead of trying to be both; a commentary on society, or a comedy about society?

            It was a bit cartoonish when I don’t think it should have been. 

         The giant knife on the front of Sylvester Stallone’s car, and the tommy guns were ridiculous to see (kind of childish) and not surprising the guns are never used, and the knife is used once (and I think it would have been better had it not been used at all). The cars are like the kind that my son plays with, the Hot Wheels, cars that you would never see on the street – they look cool (to a kid, or someone really into crazy looking cars) – but for the most part not all that interesting.

            The year of 2000 that the movie takes place in is supposed to be a dystopian future, but I would add that it is the laziest dystopian future ever created. The race and vague political problems a dystopian future does not make. I get that it’s low budget but that doesn’t mean that the story itself has to suck. David Carradine’s Frankenstein is a character important to the plot (and I use that word loosely) and after sitting through the movie to get to the end and Frankenstein’s end game is revealed, his story that had up to that point been pointless, made sense – although it still had the heavy feeling of being written by a teenage kid (the hand grenade, that is a grenade, shaped like a hand – and yet has an actual grenade in the palm of the hand?).

            A year after this movie, Rocky is released, and you can kind of see in the movie that Sylvester Stallone is having fun (his running over his own pit crew for points was the funniest part of the whole movie). I mean, he gets to drive the wild and crazy car wild and crazy fast, and get into a fight with David Carradine, fresh off of Kung Fu and dead set on changing his image. I get that these guys probably knew the kind of movie they were in, and were having fun with it, unfortunately that’s not enough to keep the movie good.

           The closest thing the movie has that is good is Simone Griffeth, David Carradine’s navigator through the race, and love interest. Of course there wasn't much competition woman-wise, but still she definitely made watching the movie – not enjoyable, exactly – but bearable. 

             It was certainly the most unbelievable part of the movie, her falling for David Carradine.

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