by Groovinator, The Cynical Cyborg
Class of 1999 is a not so clever knock off of Terminator, Robocop, and Escape from New York. It is not to say there is nothing to enjoy here. It is a perfectly entertaining film. There is plenty of action, and some of the special effects work, but this is one of those films that tried to emulate better films, but just falls flat during the process.
I knew the director seemed familiar. It is directed by Mark L. Lester, the same genius behind the brilliantly bad Swarzenegger film Commando, which explains a lot. This is what I like to call low budget emulation of bigger ideas.
The cast is all over the place, you got Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, all as supporting characters, but then as your lead you have Bradley Gregg who is doing a really bad Corey Feldman impression. So for the sake of simplicity, let’s just call him “not Corey Feldman”.
So the year is 1999, and gang violence has overrun schools to near riot level. Not Corey Feldman is released from prison and sent back to high school. A group of android teachers are sent in to this high school to clean up the mess….or make a bigger one. Stacy Keach shows up wearing a really bad white rat tale spike wig, and white contact lenses, which is so distracting for me…that I had a really hard time taking him seriously in this movie, even when the plot called for a serious moment. Stacy Keach is the corporate military head that introduces our three terminator robot teachers in a scene directly reminiscent of the big ED 209 reveal in Robocop, right down to the lighting of the set, to the table of corporate morons applauding at everything. Then we get to the school which is basically a high tech prison complex where guns are deposited in large bins outside a military security checkpoint. Stacy Keach shows up at a secret compartment of the school, and walks into a room of white lab coat wearing people and do my least favorite movie trope in science fiction movies. It is the scene in which we watch people doing things from TV screens or monitors so that we can dump any exposition necessary to accelerate the plot. I don’t know if there is a technical term for it, so I am going to name it “exposition monitor”. 7 out of 10 movies made for the syfy channel have long exhausting scenes of people watching the movie through monitors telling the audience what is going on. We watch the teacher bots do there thing to take control of hostile students, and the staff of lab coats claps at every choice these robots make. Eventually, as any good android should…the robots start making more complex choices, that eventually cause the an all out war between gangs, students, and robots.
This is a sequel to the movie Class of 1984, which unfortunately I have not seen. I think what amuses me is how the budget is spent on this movie. There are some heavy action scenes with lots of explosions that involve tons of extras, but the more recognizable cast members have very few scenes that take place in mostly the same room, just enough to move the story, or put the name on the movie poster. There are some scenes that made me laugh really loud, but I am not sure that it was the intended result. For example, Stacy Keach’s costume, or make up, or whatever you wish to call it, I cannot keep a straight face. 1990, or not, this is one of the worst looking costume jobs I have ever seen. I am laughing right now just writing about it. Second, there is a seen that involves one of the teacher bots spanking a student. I mean power spanking like a robot. I am sure there is a gif on the internet of this somewhere, otherwise, please make one. I need it!
When things come to a fever pitch between teachers and students, the teachers begin revealing hidden weapons in there body, such as flame throwers, robot claws, and rocket launchers. These scenes are pretty awesome, and if you like watching a high school full of motorcycles and dirt bikes…this is your jam! Another scene that got a big laugh out of me is when most of the flesh is removed from the last teacher to almost completely copy the final act of the Terminator. Except this terminator has big googly eyes that remind me of all those internet memes that use it. I admire trying to do a Stan Winston, but this is another one of those moments that makes me cringe because you are simply NOT Stan Winston.
Outside of a few unintentional chuckles I enjoyed this movie for the most part, but I have to admit, that it does drag quite a bit between action scenes. The story is pretty silly, and very obviously lifted from other movies. It seems to me that Mark Lester has made a career lifting parts of his favorite movies, and making his own interpretations of them. Just like Commando lifts his favorite scenes from Rambo, but that is for another review. For the most part, I think it is worth a watch, and it is pretty entertaining, but you are not going to miss out on life if you happened to miss it. I have no plans to watch it again or own it in my collection. I am giving this movie a 3 out of 5 cheese curds