Almost Super: Demolition Man
Almost Super: Demolition Man 1993
I realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve written one of these “Almost Super” reviews. And this past weekend I watched Demolition Man which had me thinking through most of the movie that it feels like it could easily be the prequel to Judge Dredd. It’s got Rob Schneider in it, and though it may be set in a utopian future rather than a dystopian future it has a similar feel to it. Well, a similar feel to the trailers that I’ve seen for Judge Dredd since I haven’t technically watched that one just yet. It also happened to be the Movie Of The Month over at the Lamb so I thought it would be a perfect movie to use my tag for movies that aren’t quite a superhero movie, but share a lot of the same qualities with them. Anyway, for the actual movie itself, Demolition Man was a fun little 90’s cheesy action movie with both Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes hamming it up with as many action one-liners as they can fit into their dialogue. It had a lot of really odd future ideas in it, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.
The premise of the movie is that in the near future, criminals are frozen instead of jailed and while they are frozen they are also mentally rehabilitated because science! Stallone is a cop whose known for going too far and gets jailed for killing 30 innocents in a giant explosion while he is trying to capture Snipes who is a mentally unstable, violent criminal. They both end up being cryo-jailed and 30-some years in the future, Snipes is thawed for his parole hearing and escapes. It turns out that it only takes 30-some years to create a perfect, violence-free society and the police no longer know how to deal with someone this violent so they thaw out Stallone to help them catch Snipes. There’s also plenty of overtones of Big Brother and the societal inequities and a mystery plot that’s not really set up as much of a mystery as you know pretty early on that the supposed savior of society is the one who actually set Snipes loose in the first place.
Some of the most fun of this movie are all the little details of this future society, they are sprinkled throughout the movie and often used as a punchline like the fact that there was a “franchise war” and the winner was Taco Bell so there is now only one single restaurant franchise in the entire country, though there still seems to be different variations of Taco Bell as the one shown was a more high class joint, which you could tell because the portions were ridiculously tiny. Swearing is also disallowed in the future, and any time you do swear a nearby terminal sounds an alarm and gives you a ticket. Toilet paper is replaced with “three seashells” which they never explain, and the swapping of bodily fluids is also disallowed to prevent the spread of disease. They are used as throwaway jokes, but in a better movie could actually be thought of as a satire of the amount of control the government has, aside from the three seashells anyway.
One surprising joy of this movie was to see Sandra Bullock and the other cops from the future playing it so completely naive and unaware of the past that’s just before their time. Bullock is absolutely adorable as Stallone’s partner, and by the way, I apologize for not using their character names, but the names aren’t that memorable and they are much more recognizable as actors than as their characters. I love both the fact that she is a supposed fangirl of 90’s culture and yet constantly gets common phrases wrong, like “take this job and shovel it” or “there’s a new shepherd in town”. Anyway, aside from Bullock, Benjamin Bratt is also great as a complete and total nerd police officer, there’s also the minor role from Rob Schneider which the best part is when the two of them share the nerdiest future high-five in the police station. Glenn Shadix is also a bit of fun as the bureaucratic villain’s assistant, probably best known for his role as the overweight art toadie in Beetlejuice. There’s also a small role for a young Denis Leary as the leader of the underground… whatever they are. They aren’t exactly resistance even though there are a couple minor attacks, they’re more like the dregs of society.
Now that I think of it, those underground dregs comprise another layer of the underlying social commentary in this silly action movie. The whole reason why Snipes was thawed out and released as a psycho killer in the first place was to kill this underground leader and the overall goal is to seal up and/or destroy these dregs of society. They are thought of as worthless humans not deserving to live which is a very common theme in these sci-fi future societies, also echoed in the recent Elysium. This society is full of people scrounging for food and medical supplies, living off of rat burgers. Which is a great little moment when Stallone finds out that the burger is actually made of rats and instead of spitting it out in disgust, he continues to eat it, commenting that it’s a great rat burger. The action is a lot of over the top fun, even when a lot of it consists of Snipes completely dominating a bunch of police officers who no longer know how to fight, and the jokes are cheesy 90’s fun, they are an absolute delight any time Stallone and Snipes are facing off with each other, trying to one-up the other’s one-liner. And to top everything off, it’s actually a pretty fully realized future, with fully explained concepts even though they are extremely unlikely. It’s a fun movie and I’m glad I got the chance to watch it. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.