The inauguration was less than two weeks ago. It feels like my country has been set on fire half a dozen times since then. God knows what will have even happened by the time I post this. I never had any illusions that it was gonna get racist, scary, and dangerous, but I have to admit . . . I didn’t think it’d get there so fast.
Possibly what Mekaela and I should have done to “celebrate” the inauguration was to stockpile food and medical supplies for the impending apocalypse. Instead we made Jell-O shots, got delivery, and watched Death Race 2050.
It certainly kept to the spirit of the original.
This Baby Review (and it’s an actual Baby Review this time, like less than a 1000 words–without quotes, anyway) is absolutely loaded with SPOILERS for both this movie and the original 1975 film.
The year is 2050. The American government has come up with a way to combat overpopulation: the Death Race! Competitors in the Death Race drive across America, running over and killing as many people as they can for points.
1. This movie is, obviously, a satire but I wouldn’t call it a prophecy–this isn’t how I see America going, mostly because at this point I’m hoping we’re still even here in 2050. I will say, however, that the parallels between the Chairman of the United Corporations of America (Malcolm McDowell) and President Trump are definitely there, most noticeably with the Chairman’s hair and how he insists it looks cool.
2. On a more important note: I see Death Race 2050 hasn’t abandoned its predecessor’s subtle motif of tits, tits everywhere.
On the pro-feminism upside, Annie (Marci Miller) is SO MUCH BETTER than she was in the original, like, Jesus Christ, this is about a 3000% improvement.
Secretly evil resistance leader Alexis Hamilton (Yancy Butler) is also enjoyable. And I see that the Resistance is just about as incompetent as it was in the first movie, although considering they’re secretly being led by a traitor, that actually does make sense.
Far more importantly: DUDES. THIS MOVIE COMES WITH BREAKDANCING NINJAS IN CORNFIELDS.
All movies should strive to achieve such awesomeness.
3. Continuing on with the film’s up-and-down relationship with feminism: although Minerva (Folake Olowofoyeku) starts out as something of a racist stereotype (my actual notes read “not sure she could be more of a stereotype if she tried”), I absolutely love the scene where we get to see what Minerva is like when the cameras aren’t rolling. (This scene takes place at the Bechdel Bar because of course it does.) And I was super ecstatic to see Minerva get to kill Tammy’s fans, like, finally.
Unfortunately, Minerva’s death is still kind of bullshit, not so much that it happened, but how it happened. (I do admit I’d held onto a small and deeply unrealistic hope that she’d survive, but that she doesn’t isn’t really my larger problem.) Ultimately, Tammy forces Minerva’s car off a cliff, and while Minerva gets a nice, small moment of defiance before she bites it, it’d have meant a lot more to me if she’d got to kill Tammy back or at least do something of importance–take out Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead), for instance, or maybe Alexis Hamilton.
Instead, it’s computer driver A.B.E. who randomly kills Tammy before conveniently deciding to self-destruct, and that just never worked for me at all. I found A.B.E. and his existential crisis utterly delightful in this film, but having him kill Tammy seemed like a weird choice and even with his nihilistic despair, A.B.E’s immediate suicide afterwards felt more like a writer tying up loose ends than a natural plot development. I was bored and disappointed by it.
4. Also, it’s worth mentioning that while Tammy the Terrorist (Anessa Ramsey) is an enjoyable enough villain–the actress certainly commits–it’s perhaps too bad that Death Race 2050 got rid of the actual Nazi driver from the original. Cause, you know. Topical.
5. As far as the male drivers in the race go: Manu Bennett as Frankenstein is a predictably growly good time, although my favorite moment of his might actually be when he petulantly falls backwards on a bed. Kind of adorbs.
Meanwhile, Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead) starts out really strongly for me, like he’s the ridiculous villain Sylvester Stallone was in the original–only better because, you know, Grinstead’s being ludicrous intentionally.
That being said, making Perfectus a gay guy desperately trying to pretending he’s ultra-straight and uber-masculine is just . . . annoying and outdated bullshit. Like, why? All the jokes about him looking at gay porn or wanting to lick Frankenstein’s face or whatever were just frustrating. The character was plenty hysterical before the movie resorted to that tired shit.
6. A brief list of some of the corporation cities:
Meatpackistan (Formerly Kansas)
Biscuit Planet, Inc. (Formerly West Virginia)
Walmartinique (Formerly Arkansas)
Upper Shitville (Formerly Baltimore)
7. Finally, Death Proof 2050 ends differently than Death Proof 2000. The latter ends with Frankenstein becoming Mr. President Frankenstein and marrying Annie.
This one, however, ends with Frankenstein giving an inspirational speech to the country’s citizens, telling them that they don’t have to wait for celebrity drivers to kill people–they can all kill each other! And so they do! Mass murder everywhere!
As a film ending, I actually quite like it. As a possible national prophecy . . . let’s hope not.
Tammy: “Math is for heathens! And nerds!”
Jed Perfectus: “I will destroy everyone in this montage.”
Jed Perfectus: “I AM PERFECTUS! How you like me now, America?”
Annie: “No one’s ever seen your face.”
Frankenstein: “The mask is a gimmick! Plus, it’s itchy!”
Annie: “Go ahead. Put your tongue between your teeth. ‘Th, th’.”
Frankenstein: “Thank you.”
Tammy the Terrorist: “Well, guess what, y’all? The Almighty’s got a Hooters in the sky, and it’s time to martyr up!”
Annie: “Look, it’s just that I was terrified.”
Frankenstein: “It’s easy. Just try to face the inevitability of a violent death.”
Alexis Hamilton: “Brothers and sisters, this was once a great nation, a shining city on a hill where people worked, and lived, and loved, and had book clubs.”
Alexis Hamilton: “You know what the Dalai Lama said about committees? Oh, that’s right, he didn’t talk about committees, because he wasn’t a pussy!”
Annie: “Come on, everybody knows you play golf together in the off season.”
Annie: “You two probably race around in golf carts.”
Frankenstein: “The Chairman wouldn’t like that. Too much (indicates wig flying off) wind.”
Minerva: “I see God, and she’s black as fuck!”
(A.B.E. drives up to a cigar store Indian statue.)
A.B.E.: “Hello, madam. I have no arms, and I am in need of fuel. Please fill me up? If you assist me, I will spare your life. Life . . . the condition that separates animals from inorganic matter.”
(A.B.E. begins crying)
A.B.E.: “What am I?”
(A.B.E. runs over statue.)
A.B.E. (still crying): “We could have been friends.”
Worker 1: “We’re lucky. I got two bottles of sunblock with my last paycheck.”
Worker 2: “Sunblock?”
Worker 1: “Like I’m all fancy and stuff.”
Worker 2: “We’re out here in the middle of the motherfucking Death Race, and you’re talking to me about sunblock?”
Worker 1: “That’s the price we pay for being in the middle class.”
Annie: “Don’t turn your back on me, you fucking smug sonofabitch. I’m trying to kill you.”
A.B.E. “Systems . . . failing. Approaching white light. FEAR!!!! Initiating . . . Bucket List . . . Protocol.”
Annie: “I can’t do that.”
Frankenstein: “Can you give me a reason why not?”
Annie: “Because I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with a man who finished second to Jed Perfectus.”
Utterly ludicrous and super campy fun, much like the original, with a few nice updates and a few disappointments. At any rate, you’re unlikely to be bored.
Um. B? This is not an easy movie to grade. I don’t think I even tried to bother last time.
Be proactive with your life, and go murder the shit out of somebody.