Friday, September 25, 2009

What we have here, is a failure to communicate...

I recently saw a movie about someone unjustly accused and convicted of murdering his wife. While in prison, he’s befriended by a grizzled old inmate, with a “tough on the outside, soft on the inside” persona, a rag-tag band of half-wits, who together, ultimately outsmart a cruel warden and his vicious head-guard. After he makes his escape, in a complicated scheme, he ends up in a beachfront community where his friend meets him up and they live happily ever after in freedom.

Of course, I’m talking about “Deathrace” but I am wondering if I’ll ever get those 2 hours of my life back.

I have some friends (you know who you are…) who claim that “The Shawshank Redemption” is amongst the greatest movies ever made. That may be true, if the greatest movies list includes “Caged Heat” and “Mannequin 2”, and any movie with Judd Nelson, but I have to admit, it was a disappointment for me. If you’ve seen one “beating all odds” type of movie, you’ve seen them all. Sure, it was better than some prison movies, but not as good as some others, like “Papillon”, “Brubaker” or “Con Air”.

These movies follow a set formula: unjust conviction, abuse at the hands of vicious guards/warden/other inmates, an old, wise inmate helping the new guy, new guy survives and thrives, and justice prevails in the end. Society loves underdog stories, and somehow prison movies make us root for the underdog, even if he murdered his wife.

“Deathrace” is a loose remake of the 1975 Roger Korman classic “Deathrace 2000” starring the sexually repressed David Carradine and an up and coming Sly Stallone. The premise was a race across the United States, where the drivers won points for running down spectators and each other (if only someone had come up with this for the Cannonball Run movies...).

Roger Korman and Hollywood had the brilliant idea to “re-make” the movie-there must have people clamoring for this; behold “Deathrace” starring Jason Statham. Instead of a race across the country, this game is played with inmate on an island prison; win 5 races and earn your freedom. Like “Shawshank”, Statham is unjustly accused and convicted of murdering his beautiful wife, is smart and soft-spoken, is befriended by a “tough on the outside, soft on the inside” older inmate, is admired by a rag-tag bunch of half-witted inmates, and outsmarts a cruel warden and head guard. Spoiler alert!!! After busting loose, he ends up in a sunny paradise with his inmate buddy. Sound familiar? Try “Deathrace Redemption” or “Shawshank Deathrace.”

I guess this speaks to the bigger problem with Hollywood-a dearth of original ideas. Did we really need a remake of “Deathrace 2000”? Do we need a remake of “Fame”? Isn’t Irene Cara already unfortunately living forever? (I was gonna run with Gene Anthony Ray, but tragically, he’s gone to the big performing arts school in the sky). What’s next, “The Eleven Commandments” and “The Godfather, 4D”?

For a look at what high school lunch is usually like...

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