Sunday 14 December 2008

Death Race...(musing catch up part three)

Paul W.S. Anderson (sometimes known as "the Paul Anderson that's not much cop", when compared to P.T. Anderson - the man behind Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood).

Well ... Resident Evil was terrible, and the sequels didn't fare much better, the third inspiring the 'best you're gonna get' moniker of 'the least shit Resident Evil movie' ... but it was still pretty stupid, and decidedly meh. Alien VS Predator ... dreadful, seriously-seriously-shit.

Death Race meanwhile, isn't as shit at those two buckets of eye-rape, but equally it's not that good either. Jason Statham's on standard Statham form, not excelling himself, but not phoning it in either ... Tyrese Gibson though, feels every inch the token black guy here, hardly puts forward a solitary little piggy in the shoes of Stallone's original Machine Gun Joe from the original Death Race 2000.

The action is decent, but quickly begins to wear amidst the sheer onslaught of grey and quick-fire editing, and occasionally really grindingly mis-chosen music (cue blatantly obvious, dime-a-dozen rap track to introduce the prison, and a really tacky little number to assist in gawping at the lead prison femme, for two examples).

The script - typically Anderson, at best it's standard. It almost feels like paint-by-numbers, the token 'brain' to the central band of characters - as well as token Latino, and token British guy who reads little books and wears little glasses, smacks of that numbered-paints philosophy.

Compared to the original (and still best) film, what's retained? Cars - yes, and admittedly they're better than the cheap-o wobble-wagons slithering about in front of undercranked cameras, but lacking flair - a race - yes, and admittedly the 'pay per view' angle does raise your interest the first time. Dare I say it, it even suggests satire ... but then that's all ditched in favour of some more "meh" plotting and ultimately tiresome racing about.

There's no satire, which was one of the original film's strong points. The racers are either throw away cannon fodder or pre-sold cut-outs, complete with text-book back stories. The villainess of the piece, one-dimensional baddie with token henchman.

Another key aspect of Death Race 2000, was that it was a televised trans-continental road race. I begrudgingly understand why they might have chosen to keep it located to one dreary industrial location, but if the original could achieve a transcontinental road race on peanuts, why can't this bid budget re-hash manage it?

And that is, after all, what it is - yet another month, and yet another dime-a-dozen remake. This re-heat culture really is the filmmaking equivalent of microwave cookery, nowhere near as good as the real deal.

Finally - Death Race 2000 was famous for it's carnage. The idea was to score points by running over civilians (be they protesters, passers by, fans or whomever) - here though, we have ONE person get smeared. ONE. That's it, and the character is a numpty anyway. Such a key aspect of the original, and it's nowhere to be seen - perhaps the product placement car firms didn't fancy letting their cars run over anybody ... but were fine with them being cobbled-over with all manner of defensive and offensive capabilities, like giant fuck-off machine guns designed to kill the other drivers. Hmmm...

There was a whole slew of Carmageddon videogames (which I enjoyed immensely), and yet here we are with a movie - that's thankfully R-rated - completely avoiding one, of several, key aspects of the source material ... speaking of the original, I'll stick with that thank you very much.

No comments: