Monday, March 26, 2018

The Lawnmower Man

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  It's sod, it's grass, it's LAWNMOWER MAN!!!

The Lawnmower Man – 1 out of 5

The most memorable thing about The Lawnmower Man for me is the fact that it was a script that barely had anything to do with the Stephen King short story of the same name and the studio just tried to slap the author’s name on it for recognition purposes.  Beyond that, I had vague memories of renting it with my dad when it came out in 1992.  I can partially remember some moments from it like the wife of Pierce Brosnan’s character getting mad he was spending so much time in virtual reality but I mostly remember thinking it was dumb.  Recently, I decided to revisit it and see if my memories of it being a bad product remain unchanged.  And guess what?  They did!

If a metal band did the "Money for Nothing" music video.

Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Brosnan) is working on drugs and using virtual reality to try and raise the intelligence of chimps (because movie science) but when his experiments lead to enhanced aggression he realizes that he needs to try a different tactic.  Desiring to test on a human subject, he decides that the mentally handicapped man; Jobe Smith (Jeff Fahey), who mows his lawn will be the perfect candidate.  His methods with a new drug seem to work and Jobe starts to see improvement as he gets smarter.  However, after the old drug is introduced into Jobe’s system, he starts to get aggressive and more violent as mental powers like telekinesis and pyrokinesis starts to develop.  Now, mad with power, Jobe seeks to leave his mortal body behind and enter the world of virtual reality so he can live forever and become power incarnate.

He totally played the Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye on the virtual reality
machine, you know he did.

So, like I said, I thought the film was dumb when it came out and revisiting it now, that opinion hasn’t changed.  In fact, it might be even worse because of how dated it looks and feels in 2018.  The computer effects are goofy as hell (believe it or not, it was considered revolutionary at the time) and it’s hard to not snicker at them but what’s even more laughable is how writers at the time thought the future of virtual reality was going to be.  Screenwriters always seem pretty out-of-touch when it concerns technology and hindsight gives us the clarity we need to see that they missed the mark by a lot with this one.  Sure, movie drugs to increase a person’s intelligence is something I can suspend my disbelief with but using virtual reality?  That part was hard to take seriously and even the movie barely works in an explanation as to why it would work.  I’m sure VR now has been discovered to help with brain function in some way in this day and age but it’s pretty silly (but kinda fun) to see how we, as a society, thought how big it was going to be in the 90s.

The key to total immersion into virtual reality is to just...hang there...yeah.

If you like a movie with loads of sweaty Jeff Fahey,
this movie is for you.
To be perfectly blunt, there was nothing about this film that I found interesting or engaging.  The dated computer effects are only the superficial problems with this one.  The performances feel barely serviceable and border on problematic as Jeff Fahey seems to be only seconds away from doing exactly what Tropic Thunder says an actor shouldn’t do.  Brosnan doesn’t look interested most of the time and the supporting players are all a gamble on whether they are giving too much or providing too little.  The story isn’t very griping as it hits all the predictable beats one expects the movie to go.  Finally, none of the characters were that interesting.  Fahey’s performance is too hard to take seriously for Jobe to be fascinating and Brosnan’s character barely feels developed or feathered out.  

Yeah...this doesn't hold up.

The Lawnmower Man is funny watching now because of how awful the CG looks but is hard to sit through due to its messy construction and story.  Pretty much from the moment the film starts, it's a sloppy thriller that offers up little thrills and too many one-dimensional characters.  Normally, I try to find redeeming factors in even the worst movie but the only thing about this movie that worked is how riff-able it is.  Seriously, the best part I found about the movie that doesn’t age very well is how easy it is to tease, laugh at, and make snarky comments about its production, story, characters and special effects.

Remember, this was state-of-the-art in the 90s.

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