DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


GJ Echternkamp
Malcolm McDowell, Manu Bennett, Marci Miller
Writing Credits:
Matt Yamashita and GJ Echternkamp

The year 2050 the planet has become overpopulated, to help control population the government develops a race - The Death Race.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 1/17/2017

• “The Making of 2050” Featurette
• “Cars! Cars! Cars!” Featurette
• “The Look of 2050” Featurette
• “Cast Car Tours” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Death Race 2050 [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 9, 2017)

For a continuation of a movie series that started with 1975’s Death Race 2000, we head to 2017’s Death Race 2050. Set in the year 2050 – natch – the United States exists under the control of a corporate government led by The Chairman (Malcolm McDowell).

To placate the masses, these leaders run a violent televised battle called the “Death Race”. In this competition, drivers win via the ruthless destruction of their enemies as well as civilians, and the brainwashed public revels in these adventures as they watch on TV.

Along the way, viewers develop affection for the best driver of the lot, a half-human/half machine dude called Frankenstein (Manu Bennett). We observe his exploits on the track as well as his connection to a revolt against the corporate overlords.

As mentioned earlier, the first Death Race came out in 1975, but the series got revived via 2008’s Death Race. Though that film didn’t do well at the box office, it still spawned a few direct-to-video sequels.

I assumed that Death Race 2050 would give us another in that run, but instead, it intends to restart the series. In fact, the publicity materials attached to 2050 refer to it as the “highly anticipated reboot” of the 1975 flick.

Wasn’t the 2008 film a reboot? Isn’t it a little soon to restart the franchise? And who felt a new Death Race - rebooted or not – would be “highly anticipated”?

Whatever the case, I thought 2050 offered some potential. I never saw the 1975 Death Race, but I felt the 2008 flick and its sequels fared poorly. The basic concept offered room for excitement but the movies themselves didn’t work, so a rejiggered Death Race came with theoretical possibilities to succeed.

Alas, 2050 does nothing to take advantage of those strengths. Instead, it becomes 93 minutes of witless, brain-dead idiocy.

Oh, 2050 thinks it comes with cleverness and insight, as it aspires to give us a social satire. It wants to mock a mix of elements, from corporations run amok to Donald Trump to reality TV to consumerism in general.

None of these stabs succeed. Instead, 2050 feels like little more than more violent, semi-comedic rip-off of Hunger Games, a flick without a brain cell in its head.

Nothing here works. The attempts at satire and comedy seem sub-moronic, and all the performances come across as ham-fisted and silly.

Not even the action delivers any satisfaction, partly due to the movie’s terrible production values. In particular, effects lack any polish at all and feel relentlessly phony. 2050 can’t even pull off believable process shots, so basic moments of drivers in their cars appear unconvincing.

Director GJ Echternkamp shows no ability to deliver a vivid action scene. The movie provides one awkward sequence after another, and all of these lack any form of excitement or vivacity. There’s no flow, so we end up with nothing more than a collection of poorly-shot stunts without drama.

Add to that a threadbare story and I can’t find a single aspect of 2050 that works. I still think the basic concept could entertain, but 2050 suffers from such miserable execution that it becomes a complete waste of time.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

Death Race 2050 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No real problems emerged in this appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness worked well. Some interiors showed a smidgen of softness, but the movie usually came across as accurate and well-defined. No signs of shimmering or jaggies emerged, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws either.

Colors went down a stylized path but showed more breadth than usual. This meant some of the usual orange/teal along with other tones, all of which came across appropriately. Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows seemed smooth and clear. This ended up as a pleasing image.

I also thought the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack satisfied, though I admit it fell a little short of expectations. With so much vehicular mayhem involved, I thought the mix would deliver constant action and excitement, but the end result didn’t quite reach the anticipated heights.

Still, the audio used the various speakers well. Driving scenes allowed the cars to zoom around the room, and other action/violent elements broadened around the spectrum. Music boasted good spread as well and allowed this to turn into a lively track.

Sound quality seemed positive as well. Music appeared warm and full, while speech came across as natural and distinctive. Effects brought up lively, dynamic elements with deep low-end. Though not quite “A”-level, the track did what it needed to do.

The disc includes some featurettes. The Making of 2050 runs 10 minutes, 16 seconds and offers info from producer Roger Corman, co-writer/co-editor/director GJ Echternkamp and actors Manu Bennett, Anessa Ramsey, Marci Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Burt Grinstead, and Folake Olowofoyeku.

The show looks at the adaptation of the original film and story/characters, stunts and effects, cast and performances, and the director’s impact on the shoot. A few minor insights emerge but this show usually sticks with basic promotion.

Cars! Cars! Cars! gives us a four-minute, 33-second reel with Echternkamp, Grinstead, Olowofoyeku, Bennett, Ramsey, Miller, Corman, and FX director Fernando Vasquez. As expected, this piece examines the design and execution of the movie’s vehicles. Though it gives us a few useful notes, the piece seems too short to tell us much.

Next comes the six-minute, 29-second Look of 2050. It features Corman, Bennett, Grinstead, Ramsey, Ecternkamp, Olowofoyeku, McDowell, Miller, costume designer Emilio Alberto Montero Schwarz, and actor Shanna Olson. “Look” discusses costumes, locations and visual design. It’s another decent but lackluster piece.

With Cast Car Tours, we locate an eight-minute, 34-second reel that features Bennett, Grinstead, Ramsey, and Olowofoyeku. As implied by the title, the actors show us details of their characters’ vehicles. We get a smattering of interesting facts.

10 Deleted Scenes take up a total of five minutes, 39 seconds. With so little time per clip, we don’t get much from these sequences. They accentuate supporting characters – with an emphasis on Minerva and Tammy - and don’t add a lot.

The disc opens with ads for Hard Target 2, Desierto, In A Valley of Violence, Mr. Robot and The Take. No trailer for 2050 appears here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of 2050. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Maybe someday the series will provide a good movie, but Death Race 2050 fails. Packed with lousy effects, poor performances, witless social commentary and no excitement at all, the film turns into a chore to watch. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. This is a thoroughly terrible flick with no redeeming qualities.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main