Officer John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) has been thawed out of cryoprison into a perfect world. While he was sleeping, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego were merged to form an ordered society where everything unhealthy is illegal, including sex, “alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat, bad language, chocolate, gasoline, noneducational toys, and anything spicy.” Now that the world is completely safe and boring, can Spartan keep criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) from running amuck and messing everything up? Here are the active participants in our future:
MARCO BRAMBILLA: it was the director’s first major motion picture.
SYLVESTER ENZIO STALLONE plays John Spartan, a falsely accused officer who has been released to eliminate another escaped prisoner. He doesn’t like the future and, we realize, we don’t either.
Stallone is a prolific actor whose magnetic presence commands your attention and, as an actor, he can really project strong emotions! A forceps delivery contributed to paralysis of his left face (CN #7?). He was expelled from many schools for violent behavior, and he married Brigitte Nielsen.
Stallone starred in Lords of Flatbush (1974), Rocky (1976), II (1979), III (1982), IV (1985), V (1990), Rocky Balboa (2006), Rambo (2008), II (1985), III (1988), Last Blood (2019), Creed (2015), Creed II (2018), Last Blood (2019), The Expendables (2010), 2 (2012), 3 (2014), 4 (?) — you get the idea.
One of his best lines is: “I thought I was history too, until this car suddenly turned into a cannoli.”
WESLEY TRENT SNIPES plays Simon Phoenix, a violent sociopath who has escaped cryogenic prison and is running amuck. Snipes’ presence is magnetic — the camera loves him. His acting is powerful and his emotions leap out of the screen into your heart. Wow. That’s acting. He has great range -- he is just as funny in Major League (1989) and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar (1995). Snipes can also be riveting in action films like Rising Sun (1993), Blade (1998), The Art of War (2000), Blade II (2002), and Blade: Trinity (2004).
His best line: “What? You guys don't have sarcasm, anymore?”
NIGEL BERNARD HAWTHORNE is Dr. Raymond Cocteau presiding over the Southern California country of San Angelas. (There’s no mention of the rest of the world.) Hawthorn plays the role like an “evil Mr. Rogers,” with controlled emotions inside a brittle shell of elitism and cowardice. Good job!
An English actor with roles in Twelfth Night (1996), Richard III (1995), The Madness of King George (1994), The Tempest (1980). I heard he didn’t get on well with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.
His best line: “Too bad. No kiss kiss. No bang bang!”
ROSEMARIE LAGUNAS is the purveyor of ratburgers. Very tastee!
GLENN SHADIX (William Glenn Scott) is Associate Bob, Matron of Manners. Dynamic but just too unctuous. He was very funny as Otho in Beetlejuice (1988).
ROB SCHNEIDER stands out as Officer Erwin, but I cannot find him in the credits. I wonder why?
SANDRA ANNETTE BULLOCK plays Lenina Huxley. She gets most of the good lines, but she still comes across weak and cartoonish. Where are your magnetism and strong emotions? Bullock replaced super-magnetic Lori Petty after “creative differences,” whatever that means.
DENIS LEARY plays Edgar Friendly, a cranky leader of the “Scraps” who endangers societal perfection. See Thomas Crown Affair (1999) and Ice Ages (2002; 2006; 2009; 2011; 2012; 2016).
1) Look for Jack Black among the Wasteland Scraps.
2) The computer voice is Adrienne Barbeau; also, in The Thing (1982) and Judge Dredd (1995).
3) We never find out how the 3-seashell thing works.
SANDRA BULLOCK HAS THE BEST LINES:
1) “I’ve perused some newsreels in The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library.” STALLONE: “What?”
2) “You can take this job and shovel it!”
3) “He’s finally matched his meat!”
4) (Speaking of sex:) “Eeeuw! Disgusting!”
HOW DOES THE WHOLE CRYO THING WORK?
I don’t know, but I can guess. The silver batons hold a blue crystal of ICE-9 (from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle; 1963). When that crystal of ICE-9 touches anything, it freezes it solid. Zamakibo.
Oscar-nominated ALEX THOMPSON was Director of Photography. Demolition Man was shot in Technicolor with Panaflex Cameras at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The film runs 115 minutes.
In the television version, all references to Taco Bell were censored, leaving gaping holes in the dialog. The mention of Jeffrey Dahmer and the fight with guards in the cryoprison were censored. Sandra Bullock’s epithet “a- - hole” is changed to “eye-sore,” but she is still fined for her language. The scene where Stallone eats a ratburger is cut. So, basically the film is sliced to ribbons.
In European versions, Taco Bell was changed to Pizza Hut, for some reason.
WES’ FAMILY RATING: “NOT FOR YOUNG KIDS.”
The concept of this film is simple, but people talk like many adults (with “bad” language), there is lots of casual killing, sociopaths enjoy making other people miserable, and politicians care only about themselves. Plenty of talk about sex and “transmission of bodily fluids.” You know your children best.
HOW DOES THIS MOVIE WORK?
This film has a straightforward plot design. When you see how awful the future could be, you feel better about your problems in the present.
I think Demolition Man is a funny film. It isn’t logical or reasonable — it’s just supposed to make you laugh and I do. If you like to laugh, I recommend you get it, on Blu-ray if possible. Don’t bother with the television version — it was censored to death.
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I hope this review has been interesting and really helpful.