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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Cars > Death Race (2008/Universal Blu-ray)

Death Race (2008/Universal Blu-ray)


Picture: B†††† Sound: B+†††† Extras: C+†††† Film: C+



The 1975 hit Death Race 2000 (reviewed on DVD elsewhere on this site) is a still-controversial political Science Fiction satire that continues to divide critics and remains as entertaining and as edgy as ever.The idea of remaking it has been hanging around for a while and finally, Paul W.S. Anderson took it on simply as Death Race.The new version has stripped the politics out of the original script, made the film more of a comedy and death sport film, but it is now hooked up to an pay-per-view Internet game (TV was amusingly prominent in the original) and wants to be more of an actioner.It also takes place on a prison island, instead of the open land of the U.S., killing much of what made the original work.


There is also more of a formula plot here, with Jason Statham as a man wrongly imprisoned (read framed) for a murder he did not commit, trying to have a new life after a successful one as a racer.In prison, the warden (Joan Allen fun as the villainess) wants him to pretend to be a masked racer hat has been played (unknowingly to the public) by several now-dead racer/prisoners, creating the myth the guy is almost indestructible.With no choice, he participates as his daughter is still alive and he is told heíll be freed if he gives the warder what she wants to make big bucks on the killer car game.


This includes the vehicles running over certain spots on the road that temporarily active weapons for a limited period, preventing the prisoners from using said weapons to escape.Of course, the fix is in and it can be an interesting watch, but is no successor to the original and though Anderson makes this fun, it could have been more than just a competent-enough genre-mix.Tyrese Gibsonís appearance becomes predictable and Ian McShane also saves this (along with some other good supporting actors) from falling flat, but donít expect much more and youíll be entertained at best.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is not bad, but the color-gutted look backfires in the long run and if the idea was to rebel against how gleefully colorful (ironically so) the 1975 film was, this goes too far.Director of Photography Scott Kevan does a good job, but the approach undermines his good work.This looks good on Blu-ray thanks to the solid Video Black, but we did not see the DVD as of this posting and can tell you the 35mm prints were as repetitive in their monochrome approach.Expect this to be monotonous.The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mix is the highlight of the film, with aggressive bass and surrounds typical of Andersonís films, but even with a good soundfield lacks the character of his better films.Paul Haslingerís score is not bad and the D-BOX enhancement will be a plus for those who have that in their home theater system.


Extras include a making-of featurette, driving featurette, Anderson doing an audio commentary on the uncut version of the film, plus you get the theatrical cut, Blu-ray exclusive U-Control interactivity and Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices with a DVD-ROM only available on Blu-ray.


For more information on the original film, try this link:





-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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