Monday 29 September 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 71 The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace

Virtual reality. Ever the wet dream of many a movie exec through time. But seeing as it’s still kind of weird in actual reality, dealing with it in a movie becomes infinitely more complicated. You see, it then requires imagination, and imagination isn’t really a strong suit for people behind these types of movies. So that’s a problem. But not an insurmountable one, because tonight we are taking a, sadly, very real look at…
This goofy bastard did everything in his power to make me want to turn the movie off. But I couldn't. Because of you guys. You bastards. 
The most diligent followers of this blog (if you’re reading this, and the most diligent follower would sure be, thank you for staying with me thus far! You are a champ) may remember that we’ve dealt with virtual reality, or the intricate world of hacking, once before on this list namely in the not so awesome movie .Com for Murder. Hacking and virtual reality is traditionally not handled well by Hollywood. Even the prestigious studios (and when I say prestigious I mean studios with more money to throw at productions than small countries spend on healthcare annually) has a weird tendency to think hacking is done via elaborate 3D graphics that are somehow still operated by furious keyboard button mashing. Case in point is Sawfish, one of the most ludicrous cases of movie hacking ever released. So if even the high profile studios (I should stop saying that since Newline released this piece of shit) can’t get it right, how are we to expect some lowly crappy production to even come near? The answer is; we should not. And we will not. This movie did not get anything right. I’m not a hacker. Nor am I a programmer or creator of virtual reality software. However, I’m enough of both of these to know, that what I’m seeing in this movie, is absolute bovine feces altogether. I’m not in the least surprised. As soon as I read the description, I knew I was in for nothing new and/or interesting.
They called those eye phones. This was 1996. iPhone from Apple was released in 1997. I don't know about you, but this smells like lawsuit to me. 
The plot of this film is surprisingly straight forward, yet still managed to lose coherence after a very short time. I never saw Lawnmower Man 1, so perhaps that accounts for some of the incoherence, although I doubt it very much. Peter Parkette (what a name to pick) is back, as the only recurring character, for the second round. Here he and his girlfriend, her brother and another dude, are homeless kids living in the subway in LA. Peters old neighbor Jobe is resuscitated by a business magnate to create a computer chip so powerful it can connect every machine/network in the world in one huge virtual reality hub, and thus control everything. They are seeking senate approval for this. The fact that their program for total internet domination from one central location was denied funding by the senate was by far the most unbelievable part of this movie. Jobe contacts Peter through a shared virtual reality session (apparently anybody can just join up at any time) and asks him to get a hold of Dr. Benjamin Trace because of complicated and non-disclosed reasons. Why he asked him to do this, I’m still unsure of, because it turns out Jobe is not the good guy he once was. He seeks to take over this huge network, and control everything. Ever.
This 'scientist' HAS to have been some crew dude who stepped in, or a friend of the director who just happened to visit the set. There is no way he's a professional actor.
Peter seeks out this Benjamin Trace, who looks like a mix between Mel Gibson and Christopher Lambert in Braveheart/Highlander respectively. He is the innovator behind the computer chip and needs to be involved for some reason. I don’t understand why he is brought in. But he is. He joins the kid in their subway lair, where Jobe immediately sends a run away subway car. Shit starts blowing up willy nilly, and Benjamin narrowly escapes death. He and the kids recruit a lead scientist in the project, a woman Benjamin has a strained past with (of course), who reluctantly at first agrees to pull files in Jobe. When shit starts hitting the fan, the kids and Benjamin break into the facility using super hacking shindigs and other interesting tricks. A sort of virtual reality conference call is held, involving the POTUS wearing virtual reality goggles. His presence seems very casual. Chaos ensues, as Benjamin and Peter infiltrate this meeting, and Jobe and Benjamin duke it out with swords, while scientist chick goes to steal the physical version of the chip. The two chips have to be destroyed simultaneously in order to remove the virtual, and evil, Jobe, returning the real and crippled and apparently misguided Jobe to his old semi-retarded state. If any of this made sense to you, please call your psychiatrist. You need help.
Virtual reality, ladies and gentlemen. Of course they would fly. Curiously the scenery looks like Isla Nublar, the location of Jurassic Park in the movie of the same name. Also curiously the music here resembled John Williams score in that movie. Curious!
So we’re looking at a movie that absolutely sucks here. I watched it one night, and was very happy somebody along the lines invented the smartphone, so I could keep myself from dying of boredom. Also I had a sports game going on the TV in the background. THAT’S how bored I was. Even thought the plot is mostly nonsense, it does move somewhat linear. Still, in true style, lots of scenes that sort of happen out of context. Or in a context that might’ve seemed relevant right when it happened, but a follow up just doesn’t happen. It’s amazing that so many people writing so many movies over so many decades don’t see this pitfall before it happens. In this movie, for instance, a scientist dude, played by none other than Castulo Guerra, one of Hollywood’s goto guys when you need a South- or Middle American cartel boss type dude, starts pulling files on Jobe and is subsequently murdered WHILE in the facility. Nothing ever comes of it, and everybody operates as if he didn’t exist and wasn’t just brutally electrocuted in one of their labs. So there’s that. Just a drop in the ocean really. So it’s kind of interesting how people will write these things, and then just forget that there needs to be coherence, context and/or continuity. There are tons of explosions strewn about the place, almost all of which seem gratuituous. The subway running-from-explosions-in-slow-motion scene was downright pointless. It was meant to instill a sense of danger and urgency in me/us I guess, but it filled me with the same kind of feeling you get, when you accidentally trip and fall into an alligator pit slash apiary. What exactly was blowing up in the abandoned subway tunnels is anybody’s guess. Another thing this movie fell prey to, is the “security cameras everywhere” trope. At one point Jobe crashes an airplane. We see some shit from the actual plane, then we see Jobe’s screen hundreds if not thousands of miles away, and he can not only see the inside of the plane (a place not typically littered with CCTV cams) but he also has a view of the fucking airplane from the outside. Like as if a security camera was flying along the jet plane filming everything. I can’t even with this.
The final fight. His Braveheart/Highlander look really gave him an edge. 
Lawnmower Man 2 is director Farhad Mann’s second feature film. According to his IMDb profile, he’s an Emmy winner for his film school finishing short film. He graduated with honors it seems. I can’t find any evidence to substantiate this claim, so I’m going to go with my gut feeling on this, and say it’s probably somebody with a heavy affiliation with Mann that put forth those claims. Besides this, he's mostly done TV movies and miscellaneous episode work. Much like lots of the actors in this movie. The first face I recognized, was Austin O'Brien who most of you will remember as the kind of annoyingly long haired kid from The Last Action Hero. Yes, it's him. And he's also annoyingly long haired in this flick. Besides him, we see Patrick Bergin, whom most of you may or may not remember as the dude who played break out IRA extremeist with the rough task of controlling Sean Bean's vendetta in Patriot Games. I think that's about it for faces we (I) would and/or could recognize. Not a great harvest, but a few beats none, like in Troll 2 for instance.
To enter virtual reality move was to 'jack in' and there was also talk about setting people free and other things I recognized from 1999's The Matrix. It's all very curious, is what it is. 
My final words on this flick is, production value was meh. Not super shitty, but obviously enough to throw in explosions and mediocre CGI. Acting was mostly horrible, and Jobe's laugh was super annoying. The story was only somewhat incoherent, but most of all it was just yawn-inducing dull and drab and tedious and without merit. I hated it. Plain and simple. 
This fucking guy. Wielding some kind of weapon we won't see again in the movie, but will see Donnie Yen weild in Hero many years later. 

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