Thursday, June 05, 2008

Review: Death Race

While the title and premise of DEATH RACE suggests a remake of the Roger Corman b-movie, Paul W Anderson is more interested here in adapting "post-apocalyptic car-battle" video-games like TWISTED METAL, complete with power-ups like guns and shields that are activated by driving over an icon. A good move considering the disastrous ROLLERBALL remake of 2002.

The rip-offs of other films can be counted off one-by-one as soon as they appear: THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, LOCK-UP, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, TRANSFORMERS, ROBOCOP, almost everything *except* DEATH RACE 2000. The action, effects and look are all pretty much exactly as you would expect, but with distracting plot holes large enough to drive a juggernaut through (the "evil genius" warden's cunning schemes make as much sense as Ian McShane's accent), tediously over-explained plot mechanisms (annoying voice-overs explain who's alive and who's dead at least three times), and an awful ending, it's hard to be enthusiastic. By-the-book Hollywood film-making, playing it safe and taking zero risks, it does at least have the grace not to outstay its welcome: it's less than 2-hours long.

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