Movie #264 2020: Demolition Man (1993)

According to my girlfriend, this movie is iconic because it’s one of those obviously terrible movies that still stands the test of time. But is she right?

A 1993 classic, Demolition Man is set in the futuristic world of 2032, in which electric cars are prevalent. Back in 1996, violent criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) along with the man who captured him (Sylvester Stallone) were cryogenically frozen for their respective crimes, but in 2032, Phoenix escapes during a parole hearing. Stallone’s John Spartan is then brought back to a normal solid yet squishy state, as it is believed he is the only man who can stop Phoenix’s rampage of terror. Though Spartan is eventually found to have been punished for crimes he did not commit, he puts that to one side in order to save the now ”utopian” city known by the name of San Angeles from ruin.

How to describe this one? Cheesy, uber nineties fun with a panicky deep piano soundtrack and questionable sci-fi effects. Sounds about right for 1993, doesn’t it?

It’s so cute to see how 1993 saw the future. Everything is so technological and futuristic, and to be fair, they didn’t miss the mark too much. There are the aforementioned flying cars, plus voice controlled electronics, and an increased sense of censorship; all of which are commonplace in real world 2020. However, the optimism of 1993 shines through so adorably even with the pieces that aren’t quite true today. Everything in Demolition Man is so metallic and other-worldly, run by robots and inexplicable happiness, whereas if the same movie was made today it would definitely have looked a lot more like a zombie apocalypse or a Terminator-style post-war wasteland. Super cute.

As for the cast? Well, there are many famous faces here. Though Sandra Bullock’s acting is so questionable at times, one can only wish she still did movies like this. Now she’s through her rom-com and serious dramatic performance phase, it’d be cool to see her do something more light-hearted that doesn’t also come with added Melissa McCarthy. Wesley Snipes is as cool as ever though of course, and whilst Stallone is there for action purposes more than anything, he plays his part as well as he is supposed to.

As touched upon briefly above, this movie unexpectedly makes a statement about the dangers of an overly policed state, which is strangely timely at the moment. And by that, I don’t even just mean the actual police problem. (Trump banning TikTok, anyone?) Came here for action, got a political commentary. Nice. 

Sure the action sequences are pretty lacklustre in general, but guess what? Ask me to either rewatch this or Blade Runner again and I know what I’d choose. Fuck the police. I’m still yet to understand the Blade Runner hype, and I probably never will. But you know what? Demolition Man is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and there’s some comedy in here that is absolutely more my cup of tea. Are the aesthetics as pleasing? Clearly not. But for entertainment value, this is a cut above.

So, back to my original question: was my girlfriend right? You’re damn right she was. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever watch this movie again, but I had fun the first time round. Pure nineties fun.

Demolition Man is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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