8/28/08

Death Races duel to the DEATH!


Last night the Bug went to the movies. I loaded up the flying wing and my wife Miss Direction and our friend Fran Goria flew on down to the muti-plex to see the new Death Race flick. I have to tell you faithful moonies we were not disappointed by the film we saw (although the two trailers for upcoming Vin Diesel masterpieces I could have done without. However if you haven't seen the trailer for Quarantine, I recommend you check it out.) All the basics were there for us. Bad ass deadly cars, Frankenstein, killer car crashes, and huge huge explosions.

I have to admit I was surprised to enjoy it; since I haven't had the gumption to see a Paul W.S. Anderson flick in the theaters since the crime against humanity called AVP, but the frenetic movie video style seemed to fit with the tone of the movie. Jason Statham dons the mask of Frankenstein in this one and when you put that man behind the wheel magic things happen. (We all wondered how he would be in some remakes of other car driving classics like Driving Miss Daisy and The French Connection.) In a nutshell, Jenson is a former race car driver who is framed so they can send him to prison and make him drive in the Death Race. He's assisted by his mechanic, Coach (Ian McShane), and his navigator Case (Natalie Martinez)

Ian McShane (of Deadwood fame, and if you haven't seen Deadwood then you're one of Mr. McShane's character's favorite nine letter words from that show) is woefully underused. Then again, so is dialog itself; the verbiage is so sparse you could transcribe it on a napkin. Then again that's not what the brand new EXTREME Death Race is about. Its about blowing cars and people away in spectacular fashion. If you're going to take a risk on this one, see it on the big screen. In the end, I left satisfied, but something was missing.

After the film, we went back to Fran's Secret Lair and watched the classic Roger Corman Production Death Race 2000 (1975). The O.G. version featured David Carradine as Frankenstein and a young Sly Stallone as his arch enemy Machine Gun Joe. It was directed by Paul Bartel who later went on to direct Heartbeeps , non-John Waters Divine vehicle Lust in the Dust, and Cannonball also with Carradine. Death Race 2000 is the most popular sport in the world and the most popular driver is of course Frankenstein, a man who is reported to have lost all his limbs at one point or another and is horrible scarred. The race rules revolve around getting across the country from Manhattan to Albuquerque, New Mexico and along the way racking up points by hitting people with your car. Who hasn't had someone tell them as they drove down the road that it's 15 points for the kid on skateboard? That's how pervasive into our culture this movie really is.

Frankenstein is saddled with a traitorous navigator who is secretly working with the Rebels who are lead by Thomasina Paine. The rebels do manage to wipe a few cars out, but the government of the bi-partisan party reports these attacks as coming from dreaded enemy France! Along the way we see the euthanasia day at the hospital, Frankenstein's literal Hand Grenade, and get the notion that Death Race is all about keeping the populous happy and distracted so the government can do whatever it wants.

It was after it finished, and I had time to reflect on both the pictures what was missing finally dawned on me. The first Death Race had a subtext which no matter how sloppily done or ham fisted it was had something interesting to say. The new Death Race pretty much just says BOOM and louder each time. In many ways Death Race is just the kind of thing that Death Race 2000 was trying to warn us about.

Bug Rating- Death Race 

Bug Rating-Death Race 2000



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