Veteran racer Frankenstein (Manu Bennett) is looking forward to retirement. His competition, includes musical superstar Minerva (Folake Olowofoyeku), fundamentalist Tammy the Terrorist (Anessa Ramsey), a genetically-engineered superman (Burt Grinstead) and a sentient car (voiced by D. C. Douglas).
Complicating his task, a group of freedom fighters have declared war on the Death Race and all its participants.
Frankenstein will need to use all his skills to win the race, and avoid being retired... from life.
Produced by b-movie luminary Roger Corman, this sequel/remake to his 1975 cheapie Death Race 2000 (directed by Paul Bartel) is exactly what you think it is.
The thing that really clicks are the characters - the racers are all distinctive and interesting, and the comedy feels like an organic extension of the characters: Perfectus is incredibly insecure; Tammi is a con artist who exploits her followers to rack up points; AI Abe ends questioning his own existence and taking a road trip of self-discovery.
While the production values are threadbare, the performances are really good - everyone knows what the tone of the movie is, and commit. No one is winking at the audience, and that sincerity helps excuse the production values, and ends up making the movie funnier.
The plot is fairly rote and predictable, and the leads are a bit dull, but the bizarre world and supporting characters are the movie's MVP. It's too bad the movie is so short, because I could have used a couple more vignettes with Minerva, Tammy and Perfectus.
Perfect for a drinking game, Death Race 2050 may not be great 'cinema' is a good time.