"Class of 1999" DVD
You know, with all
the sputtering about declining test scores and assorted whatnot
revolving around the state of education in this country, all the
naysayers really need to pop themselves some popcorn, settle in
for a movie, and watch Class of 1999, if for no other reason than
to see how good we actually have it.
Because in Class of
1999, major metropolitan areas like Chicago, Detroit and Seattle,
among others, have been swallowed up by gang violence and drugs.
The schools in those areas, not surprisingly, have basically shut
down because it's hard to get the Crips and such to leave their
drug businesses for six hours so they can make first bell. Thus,
the Department of Educational Defense, which sounds like a half-baked
nightmare of the kind only the Bush administration could cook
up, is called in to try and reopen the schools from the nightmare
of the "free-fire zones". They answer the call in spades
by refurbishing old androids and loading them up with educational
software, then sending them in to teach.
You can imagine how
badly this will go wrong.
Which is the thing
about Class of 1999. You've got to bear in mind that this was
originally released back in 1990, which was a time when we were
just starting to come down off of Rambo movies, and the Cold War
was actually still fairly warm. We believed in action movies very
heavily back then, and man, did we get them out of Class of 1999.
Sure, the writing's
a bit hackneyed, at least the dialogue is--there's actually nothing
much bad to say about the overall plot itself, which was also
a bit hackneyed but was also set nine years into the future, so
they have plenty of plausible deniability. They wrote it for the
future, after all, and who knows where that'll wind up going?
That and most of the special effects don't look too bad. After
all, they depend heavily on explosions, and do explosions ever
really go out of style?
Of course not. Just
ask Michael Bay.
Oh yes, I went there.
Frankly, there are
lessons to learn here about how to make a low-budget movie that
manages, somehow, to not look dated despite the fact that it's
now officially legal and able to vote in the United States. Not
just the explosions, either--you'll notice that much of the effects
work is makeup rather than CG based, and that lends it an extra
note of endurance. And of course, getting solid actors to handle
the roles--Keach, McDowell and Grier all handle their action roles
with the kind of authority you'd expect from long-since masters.
Keach is an appropriately smarmy jerk, McDowell is well in his
element as a well-meaning principal gone too far and Grier manages
to make you believe she's an android hellbent on ending gang violence
Besides its longevity,
Class of 1999 is actually just plain fun to watch. This is a comparative
rarity in low-budget filmmaking these days and it's one I'm glad
to see back in full force.
The ending is solid,
satisfying, and involves lots of things and people blowing up
or burning. What they did to that android gym coach I wouldn't
do to a dead dog with leprosy.
The special effects
are a bit sparse, but functional, including English and Spanish
subtitles, and trailers for the Terminator 2 Extreme DVD version,
"Alien 3000", "Rottweiler", "Shockwave",
and "They Are Among Us".
All in all, Class of
1999 is a fun, fairly satisfying romp through the annals of low-budget
film history, and a worthwhile trip to take as long as you don't
expect too much out of this unapologetic target range of a movie.
Directed by Mark Lester
Written by C. Courtney Joyner
Starring Pam Grier, Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, Darren E. Burrows
Produced by Mark Lester
1990 / 2008
out the Video Store Guy on his own ever-lovin' website.
Featuring never before seen pieces exclusive to Reel Advice! (reel.panel2panel.com)