What’s this? A remake that doesn’t completely miss the point of the original, but instead builds on the themes and ideas laid out by it? Holy fuck.
Yeah, this was a pretty solid remake, all in all. Certainly beat the fuck out of that Paul WS Anderson “Mario Kart with Jason Statham” bullshit.
There were things the original did better. While both films have their fair share of hokey acting, Death Race 2000 at least had David Carradine delivering a solid performance in the lead. In this, the majority of the acting is probably better, but the guy playing Frankenstein was nowhere near as compelling.
Also, the driving sequences were better in the original. Both films used a lot of undercranking to make it look like the cars were driving faster than they were, but the original handled it a lot better. Also, this version has a lot of obvious greenscreen where the original would have the actors either actually driving, or would use camera angles to block the view of the road.
However, neither Death Race 2000 nor this movie are about slick driving sequences. This movie actually ups the satire, and mostly in a way that benefits the film. While Malcolm McDowell’s Chairman character parodies Donald Trump a little too blatantly, in a way that will likely date the film quite a bit, most of the satire is handled very well.
One running gag in the film is that all the US States (now each owned by a different corporation) have new names, which appears as a caption whenever the racers enter said state. For example, “New Texaco: Formerly Arkansas.” Another great twist on this gag is, during a scene in the white house, we see the caption “Washington DC: Formerly Dubai.”
Rather than focus solely on violence in the media, which the original did, this movie seems to pin most of its satire on globalisation and people’s increasing dependence on media consumption (violent or otherwise), as employment becomes less and less needed.
But, of course, neither the racing nor the satire are what people really watch these movies for. And it wasn’t a lack of either that lead to people hating the Statham/Anderson movie. I am of course referring to the mindless slaughter of random pedestrians – and this movie doesn’t skimp on that!
Hell, this movie sorta outdoes the original on that front, simply because the kills are gory as fuck in this film (in the overly cartoonish Troma/Itchy & Scratchy sort of way, naturally). I don’t know if a car can actually split someone in two, right through the stomach, but I’m willing to roll with it – because it’s awesome.
There were more actual characters in this than there were in Death Race 2000, too. Beyond Frankenstein, Machine Gun Joe and (I guess) Annie, the original didn’t really have many actual notable characters. Whereas Death Race 2050 fleshes out a fair few of its characters. Even the chairman has some believability to him, despite similarities to Trump.
The standout performance was definitely Folake Olowofoyeku (a name that makes me very glad this isn’t a video review because I have no idea how to pronounce that) as Minerva, the hip-hop star turned racer. The character is definitely one that had more depth than she needed, and Olowofoyeku definitely added a lot to the character with her performance.
Overall, I can’t actually even say which of the two movies is better, because they both excel in different ways. Just watch both.