Class of 1999

How do you deal with the wild youths of the future? Why, you bring in murderous robots disguised as school teachers! Mark L. Lester’s Class of 1999 is so ludicrous and so entertaining that it almost seems like it’s not real. How can this movie exist, you think as you watch it. Surely, this is an elaborate leg-pull.

But no, Class of 1999 is real, and it’s really fun. The film is set in a dystopian future where certain parts of major cities have fallen to dangerous gangs. There just happens to be a high school in one those gang zones, and to deal with this, principal Malcolm McDowell turns to mad scientist Stacy Keach, decked out in a wild white wig and white contact lenses, to help restore order. Keach’s plan is to install three cyborgs (Pam Grier, John P. Ryan and Patrick Kilpatrick) to teach these unruly kids a thing or two.

Of course, the plan backfires when the robot teachers being killing the unruly students. Soon, all hell has broken out, and the robots are shooting rockets out of their hands and all sorts of other insane shit. If you try to think too hard about all of this – why would these gang members even bother going to school if they control the area? – Class of 1999 starts to fall apart. But if you give yourself over to the film’s lunatic charms, you’re going to be in for a treat.

Special Features to Note:

This release comes packed with lengthy (I’m talking over 20 minutes each) interviews with multiple people involved with the production. Here’s an exclusive clip of one of those interview featurettes, with special effects creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton.

In an interview with Producer-Director Mark L. Lester and Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola, it’s revealed Class of 1999 is a loose remake/sequel to Lester’s Class of 1984, which has a similar plot about youth gangs, but no killer robots. Lester says he likes to take things that are going on in society, and make them bigger and exaggerated. He took the concept of gang territory in Los Angeles and put it into a school setting…with robots.

Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola, who is drinking a tumbler scotch the entire time, reveals that co-star Stacy Keach insisted on his memorable, albino-based appearance in the film, with white eyes and a wig. The wig Keach wanted was apparently $3,000, much to the Mazzola’s dismay. Yet Keach convinced him that the wig was important and he gave in

Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner talks about how in the original treatment for the film, which he did not write, the robots were going to look like robots, but Joyner suggested they should be humanoid cyborgs. The rest is B-movie history!

Special Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Producer-Director Mark L. Lester
  • “School Safety” Interviews with Producer-Director Mark L. Lester and Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola
  • “New Rules” Interview with Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner
  • “Cyber-Teachers from Hell” Interviews with Special Effects Creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton
  • “Future of Discipline” Interview with Director of Photography Mark Irwin
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery
  • Video Promo

Geostorm

Look, we all know what Geostorm is, right? It’s the movie where Gerard Butler fights the weather. I won’t try to convince you this movie is secretly good, because it’s not. It’s trash! But it’s entertaining trash, and that makes all the difference. Here are some observations I made while watching Geostorm:

– Gerard Butler invents a way to solve global warming, and it works, but the government fires him because he’s a loose cannon

– A guy drops eggs on the ground by accident and they start cooking! Because of GLOBAL WARMING!

– Gerard Butler literally takes an Uber to Cape Canaveral, gets out of the Uber, gets right on a rocket and blasts into space; no prep, no medical check up. Just instantly goes from an Uber into space.

– Once in space, aboard the International Space Station, Butler smugly tells a woman, “Maybe I should speak to your chief scientist.” The woman responds, “I am the chief scientist,” and you can tell Gerard Butler feels like a real asshole about that one.

– 35 minutes into the movie, someone finally said Geostorm, twice! “This is what we call a Geostorm!” a character says. “A what?!” replies another. “A Geostorm.”

– Zazie Beetz is in this!?!

– The most amazing thing about this is that there’s an actual villain in the movie. It wasn’t enough that the characters have to deal with global warming. There’s an actual bad guy in the movie helping global warming.

Special Features to Note:

Sadly, this release of Geostorm is not exactly loaded with extras. We’ll have to wait for the Criterion for that. In the meantime, what we have here are some behind-the-scenes features about how all the special effects were created.

One aspect of this I found most interesting is the fact that the filmmakers reveal that all of the weather in the film is supposed to look man-made. In other words, none of the crazy, extreme weather disaster scenarios here could occur naturally in nature. As a result, the filmmakers were free to run wild and create outlandish disasters. This opens up into a somewhat exhausting discussion into how much work went into creating all the special effects. So don’t be too hard on Geostorm, folks: it really was trying.

Special Features Include:

  • “Wreaking Havoc: Cutting edge visual effects, research and technology create the world of Geostorm.
  • Search for Answers: Inspired by his daughter’s question of why can’t global warming be stopped, Director Dean Devlin retraces the creative journey that led to Geostorm.
  • An International Event: A global cast opens up about the secrets behind Geostorm.

Jigsaw

Oh boy, they went and did it. They rebooted the Saw franchise. You know the formula by now: a group of unpleasant people wake up and find themselves in a series of elaborate, Rube Goldberg-like death traps created by Jigsaw, aka John Kramer (Tobin Bell, who classes-up these films despite their nonsense scripts).

Anyone familiar with the franchise knows that Jigsaw died years ago, but this film asks: what if he’s still alive?! As our captives try to fight their way out of Jigsaw’s traps, there’s also a running subplot about a corrupt cop suspecting a war hero turned coroner (Matt Passmore) of being the new Jigsaw.

Absolutely none of this makes any sense. Jigsaw will not convert people who don’t care for this franchise (like me!), but folks who love the Saw series will likely find plenty to enjoy here. At the very least, the film’s final twist is so ludicrous, so implausible, so goofy that I couldn’t help but appreciate it ever-so-slightly.

Special Features to Note:

Somehow, there’s a feature-length documentary on this Blu-ray release about the making of the film. That’s right – there are stone-cold classic movies that get dumped onto Blu-ray with little to no special features, yet somehow Jigsaw is the film that ends up with a 1 hour and 22 minute making- of documentary. What a world.

Here, the producers discuss how they needed a break after Saw 3D, the previous final film in the franchise. Then, when the time came to start again, they claim they didn’t want to just recycle the series – they wanted to start fresh and create a film with the essence of Saw for a whole new audience. Sure, whatever you say!

Franchise mainstay Tobin Bell appears and gives a classy, smart interview, and talks about how seriously he takes the character. Tobin Bell is a really cool guy, and this series doesn’t deserve him, but here we are.

Beyond this documentary, there’s a featurette about the props and special effects. This is a very low-energy segment, and it offers very little. Skip it; the previously mentioned documentary is more than enough.

Special Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block
  • “I Speak for the Dead: The Legacy of Jigsaw” 7-Part Documentary
    • “A New Game”
    • “You Know His Name”
    • “Survival of the Fittest”
    • “Death by Design”
    • “Blood Sacrifice”
    • “The Source of Fear”
    • “The Truth Will Set You Free”
  • “The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props” Featurette

24 Hours to Live

24 Hours to Live should’ve been a home-run. This film is essentially Crank remade with Ethan Hawke: that’s a recipe for some great, trashy fun! Sadly, 24 Hours to Live never delivers. Instead, it’s a limp, lifeless action movie that runs out the clock.

Hawke plays a high-price assassin who gets killed in the line of duty. His nefarious handlers find a way to bring him back to life, for a limited amount of time. Hawke then spends his borrowed-time gunning fools down and trying to make things right.

Again, this sounds like a cool premise, but the film never delivers. The only shining light is Hawke, who is a consummate professional who always brings his A-game, no matter what type of movie he’s performing in. Hawke does the best that he can, but sadly, it’s just never enough. Oh well.

Special Features to Note:

There are zero special features here. There’s not even a trailer! I guess you can just wait till this turns up on Netflix.

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