The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic made quite a few people remember the many outbreak films Hollywood has made.  It made me remember “Demolition Man”.

Of course, it wasn’t for the main plot point of the movie – a violent cop and a violent criminal are cryogenically frozen, and are brought back centuries in the future to discover the world is much different.

It’s for the little ways the future changed and why.

First of all, sex is outlawed.  Too many viruses to let people voluntarily exchange “fluids” anywhere but in a lab.

Social distancing is enforced.  Handshakes are not allowed. No hugs.

All restaurants were put out of business except for one – Taco Bell.

Board meetings are done through videoconferencing.

And the biggest one!  No toilet paper!  Everyone uses three seashells.

All that’s left is making Arnold Schwarzenegger President of the United States.

The film stars Sylvester Stallone and is directed by Marco Brambilla, his first film, but let’s be serious.  Any Stallone film at that point was really directed by Stallone.  But Brambilla’s “Richie Rich” project hit roadblocks and the producer liked him.  Stallone, who came in after Steven Seagal dropped out, liked him, so off they went.

But he did a few things really well.  His experience in big budget set pieces and explosions really shows well.  This was an expensive movie at $70 million and the money didn’t all go to Stallone.  The movie looks great and the action scenes are huge.

Snipes was at his peak here, and it’s a rare time that he played a villain.  He’s great, and he seems to relish it, even though he’d be back to his good guy roles soon enough.

But most of the world was introduced to Sandra Bullock in this film.  She was launched on TV (mainly playing Melanie Griffith’s role in the TV version of Working Girl that bombed) and played some rom-com parts, but this was the hit she was waiting for.  She would go on to driving a bus in “Speed”.

The character names are great here, too.  Allegory run amuk.

The rugged violent hero is named Spartan.  The villain who rises from cryofreeze is named Phoenix.  The cop with an affinity for the 20th Century is named Huxley (Brave New World fans delight).  Dr. Cocteau is a nod to Jean Cocteau.  And the underground rebel who fights the establishment is named Friendly, in case you needed to be hit over the head that he winds up aligned with Spartan despite being early adversaries.

“Demolition Man” opened at Number One at the box office and stayed there for three weeks.  Still, it was an October release (odd time for an action film, but Stallone’s summer blockbuster was “Cliffhanger”) and made twice as much overseas.

But it’s worth another take to see how 1993 thought the future would be in 2032.  Are we on our way?

Sure seems that way.

I hope they don’t fine people for violating the verbal morality statute.  I’d go broke.

The Highlight Reel

The virtual sex scene is a can’t miss.  No kissing.  No touching.  Just wear your headset and imagine.  See if you like social distancing in the future.

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Demolition Man Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 115min | October 8, 1993 (United States) 6.7
Director: Marco BrambillaWriter: Peter M. Lenkov, Robert Reneau, Daniel WatersStars: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra BullockSummary: Frozen in 1996, Simon Phoenix, a convicted crime lord, is revived for a parole hearing well into the 21st century. Revived into a society free from crime, Phoenix resumes his murderous rampage, and no one can stop him. John Spartan, the police officer who captured Phoenix in 1996, has also been cryogenically frozen, this time for a crime he did not commit. In 2032, the former cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara have merged into peaceful, utopian San Angeles. Unable to stop him with their non-violent solutions, the police release Spartan to help recapture Phoenix. Now after 36 years, Spartan has to adapt himself to the future society he has no knowledge about. —Rob Hartill


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