Sylvester Stallone is a time-sleeper with a twist as he chases a vicious killer into the future in this humorous sci-fi thriller from Warner Home Video. Presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio (anamorphically enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs) and with a closed-captioned English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, this release also features an additional Spanish Dolby Digital Mono track and optional English, Spanish, and French subtitles. Extra features include a feature-length commentary track with director Marco Brambilla and producer Joel Silver, production notes, and theatrical trailers.
Director Marco Brambilla somehow wasn’t able to parlay much of a career out of the success he found with his 1993 debut, DEMOLITION MAN. In any case, the Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes starring sci fi actioner with a satirical bite still holds up. Featuring a strong supporting cast, some solid comedy, high production values, and great fight sequences, I enjoyed the heck out of the film after upgrading from VHS to blu ray this week.
In the near future of 1996, Los Angeles supercop John Spartan (Stallone, nearing the end of his peak), who’s also known by the moniker of “Demolition Man” because of his property damaging tendencies, fails to rescue thirty hostages while apprehending the brutal crime lord, Simon Phoenix (a deliciously over the top Snipes). As a result, both are placed in suspended animation for decades in a newly implemented cryo prison. However, in 2032 Phoenix escapes from a parole hearing into a seemingly utopian society that’s been sanitized to the extreme and is mostly populated by effete weaklings. Phoenix immediately commits the first murders in decades with the police proving to be completely ineffective against his ultraviolent methods. A 20th century obsessed cop (Sandra Bullock in a role that propelled her to stardom) suggests waking up Spartan since he was responsible for bringing down Phoenix in the previous century. Spartan, a traditional man’s man, soon finds himself out of place in a humorous but plausible civilization that’s banned anything “bad” like salt and swearing while trying to track down Phoenix. All is not as it seems, though, as underground dwelling revolutionaries led by Edgar Friendly (Dennis Leary basically personifying his comedy routines) attempt to upend the bland status quo.
Much humor is found in skewering the ideals of the rotten beneath the surface utopia that values flavorless safety and politeness over everything else. While it’s never mean spirited, the film definitely has something to say and weaves this message into the narrative. It also lands a few jokes about the proliferation of corporatization. You may not agree with some of the points the film attempts to make but it’s this aspect that truly makes it memorable. Spartan and Phoenix’s reactions to this alien society are the inverse of each other and allow for both humor and sincerity.
In addition to the megastar power of Stallone, Snipes, Bullock, and Leary, there’s also Benjamin Bratt as a typically sensitive but good-natured cop, Bob Gunton as the condescending police chief, Nigel Hawthorne as the powerful architect of the utopia, and Glenn Shadix a memorably sycophantic lackey. Rob Schneider, Jack Black, and Jesse Ventura all have bit roles, as well. Everyone involved sells cowriters Daniel Waters, Robert Reneau, and Peter Lenkov’s quirky futuristic dialog. Perhaps the only writing flaw (which could also just be a result of something being cut out) is the pathos Spartan could feel at the loss of his wife and his willingness to get into bed with Bullock’s character. In the end, though, that’s not really the type of movie this is.
Special effects, costumes, and set designs are all top notch. Working together, they create a very immersive and believably futuristic environment. Also, the fight scenes are very well done. They’re nicely filmed, but it’s Snipes physical prowess and abilities that really drive the choreography. He absolutely appears to be quite formidable, which brings me to another strength of the picture. Spartan and Phoenix are evenly matched. Every scene is filmed as to give the impression that it could go either way, with the actors making an interesting pairing. It’s not like in COMMANDO where Arnold Schwarzenegger clearly outclassed Vernon Wells.
Marco Brambilla’s DEMOLITION MAN is still a great time and is still relevant despite satirizing cultural and societal trends of the ‘90s. The Sting performed theme song that plays over the closing credits is laughably bad and misplaced, but that’s a fairly minor flaw. Everything else pretty much works and it’s entertaining as all get out to see Stallone, Snipes, and Bullock play in fully realized futuristic world. Highly recommended.
Don't let the title fool you, its more than a bland demolition like many titles today the imply something boring and result in something exciting.
Its action packed, exceptional acting, STAR powered movie dealing with a future where passive living and an autocractic ruler find his perfect socialist paradise is crushing freedom and liberty and needs an X-COP (as always cops) to fix a problem he hatched to deal with the growing fascism of the peasant class.
Yes its DEEP but straight to a point if you read into it, then again its just a cop vs bad guy movie a shoot-em up, love story, action flick.
I remember all the hype that surrounded Demolition Man when it was in theaters.
Even after the movie was realesed on VHS, Blockbuster Video had the whole store decked out with Demolition Man posters and cardboard cut outs of all the actors. The News at the time was showing off the special effects and all the GM prototype cars they were using. The movie was a blast to watch again! Demolition Man is funny and full of action! It holds up today and it's one of my favorite movies of all time!
Stallone is a cop named John Spartan, nick named the Demolition Man because a lot of stuff gets destroyed before he gets his man. He gets framed by Wesley Snipe's character, Simon Phoenix and they both end up going into deep freeze. When Simon Phoenix escapes 36 years later into a peaceful, dystopian society, he starts his murderous rampage all over. It is decided to awaken John Spartan to capture him, since he was able to catch him before.