Class of 1999 takes place in a future where gangs rule the streets and even the schools in some cities. When robotic teachers with homicidal tendencies take over the classrooms of one Seattle school, the consequences for misbehavior are sure to be lethal.
Class of 1999 was written by C. Courtney Joyner (Puppet Master III) and directed by Mark L. Lester. While Lester’s Class of 1984 served as a wakeup call about violence in schools and what would be waiting around the corner if things continued to spiral out of control, Class of 1999 devolves into something less poignant and altogether less entertaining. That’s not to say that Class of 1999 is entirely without merit. But, it’s certainly not in the same league as its predecessor.
The biggest problem I had with Class of 1999 is that the characters are painfully two-dimensional. There’s really no one to root for during the first sixty minutes of the film. The teachers are homicidal maniacs and so are the students. It really isn’t until the third act that any of the characters come across as relatable and give us a reason to get behind them. The script is filled with bad puns and nonsensical dialogue. There are a couple of memorable one liners uttered during the finale. But, most of them are almost immediately forgettable.
The gore effects are substandard at best for the first hour of the film’s runtime. But, by the time the third act is in full swing, the FX work is absolutely exceptional. It’s as if the creative team put very little effort into the first hour of the film and saved all of their collective resources for the finale. And that applies to nearly every aspect of the film. There is nearly no character development during the first hour, the effects work during that timeframe is amateur-looking, and the storyline during the first two acts is far from engaging. There’s something to be said for saving the best for last. But, the success of your film shouldn’t hinge entirely upon the audience response to the finale.
Like nearly every other aspect of the film, the performances are stronger in the final thirty minutes than they are in the first sixty. Once the teenage cast members are in peril, they are able to deliver slightly more believable performances than in the beginning and middle of the picture. The veteran actors are serviceable throughout but I could never shake the feeling that they were phoning it in. With Malcolm McDowell, Pam Grier, and Stacy Keach all playing sizable roles, I was a little let down by the fact that their talents were largely underutilized.
Class of 1984 is ultimately saved by its finale. But it would have been a much, much better film if screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner and director Mark L. Lester had opted to invest in all three acts of the film in equal measure. As it stands, Class of 1999 is certainly worth a look but make sure to temper your expectations. The film is now available on limited edition Blu-ray from Vestron Video and LionsGate Home Entertainment. The Blu-Ray includes a whole host of interviews, a director’s commentary track, and more.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Mark L. Lester
Writer(s): C. Courtney Joyner
Stars: Bradley Gregg, Traci Lind, Malcolm McDowell, Pam Grier, and Stacy Keach
Release: January 30, 2018 (Blu-Ray)
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate, Vestron
Budget: $5.2 Million (Estimated)
Sub-Genre: Futuristic Mayhem