The Lawnmower Man Recap

Jamie

Dr. Angelo has unlocked the key to super smartness through virtual reality, but when he shares it with his developmentally delayed lawnmower man, Jobe, he soon finds it out of control. With new telekinetic powers Jobe is ready to take over the world. Can Dr. Angelo stop him (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Lawnmower Man.

How?! Dr. Lawrence Angelo is a super smart scientist who has unlocked the key to learning through virtual reality. When the most talented of his ape subjects goes berserk and kills a bunch of people before being killed itself, Dr. Angleo kinda loses his shit. Soon his life is in shambles and he decides to take the testing underground and prove that it works on human patients without the aggressive factors his funders want him to use. Working with his developmentally delayed landscaper, Jobe, he soon makes him super smart just like him… except like way smarter. Like he’s beating everyone in video games smart… and he also all of a sudden has a super smokin’ bod and all the ladies are like “who’s that?”… and also he starts having headaches and can hear what people are thinking… oh, and also he can move stuff with his mind. Anyway, While Dr. Angelo is out of town meeting with his funders, Jobe decides to share his powers with his lady love and unknowingly uses the old formulation and busts her brain. Enraged, he decides that it’s time to take over the world and goes off on a killing spree against those that he feels have wronged him or others that he cares about. Dr. Angelo learns of the swapped drugs and comes back in time to try to stop Jobe in his ultimate goal of entering cyberspace and taking over everyone’s minds. He is able to lock Jobe out of communication with the internet, leaving him trapped in the computer that Dr. Angelo has rigged with explosives. Just before they go off, though, Jobe is able to find a backdoor out. Feeling pretty jazzed Dr. Angelo is ready to go off and probably smooch on some ladies but BUM BUM BUM… Jobe is out there. Uh oh! THE END.  

Why?! Science! Dr. Angelo sees the promise in virtual reality for expanding the mind. Particularly for helping those that have trouble learning. His funder though, termed The Shop, see it differently and insist he use aggressive factors. Dr. Angelo is pretty short sighted apparently, because this obviously is because The Shop wants to make a new weapon using VR. As for our unwitting antagonist, Jobe, he just wants to be a lawnmower man… you know before he decides that the world must bow down before his great intellect.

Who?! Not much to highlight here, so I’ll just mention the curious fact that this was originally marketed as Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man after combining an unrelated script called CyberGod with one of his short stories. King is well known to not like adaptations that veer from the source, so I could understand that this would drive him bonkers. What’s even crazier is that the studio kept on ignoring the court orders and he had to sue them over and over. Anyway, I read the story before and I honestly didn’t even think it was that crazy of an adaptation. They took a very short story about a Greek god/satyr/killer lawnmower man and made it about a man that is turned into a god and becomes a killer lawnmower man… it’s at least inspired by Stephen King.

What?! There is so little to highlight here that I started to read about the video game adaptations that came out. Apparently it’s a mix of action and puzzles and flying and mostly got bad reviews. In fact at the time it made it on some lists of the worst video games ever made. I think I just got an idea for a new blog.

Where?! Patrick and I had a long discussion about this. Mostly stemming from the fact that Wikipedia has this listed as a film set in California. While it obviously is filmed in LA, I contest that there is just no way it is set there. Dr. Angelo has a meeting in Washington DC. We see him escape at night and start the drive back to his house. The next morning he arrives at his house. It just has to be in New York or perhaps, given the source, Maine or something. But I’m pretty confident it’s not set in California. Or at least confident that Wikipedia can’t be confident it’s set in California. Regardless, D-.

When?! Fortunately for us (and the criminal justice system) Dr. Angelo keeps a running diary of his illegal human experimentation. We seem him start it in early May and then finish it on July 10th. So the whole movie runs about two months. You can say a lot of things about Dr. Angelo, but you can’t say he didn’t get results in his unethical underground human trial. B+

I think there are a lot of interesting things going on in this film and probably the only BMT thing about it is that you get the sense that it’s been hacked to shit. Like… Dr. Angelo’s wife is there for three seconds and then just disappears, never to be heard from again. No wonder the Director’s Cut is like double the length. But really the thing you hear about it is the computer graphics and how dated they are but… I didn’t really mind them. They were actually very clever given the limitations of the time. Like abstract art. I was actually impressed more than anything else. My biggest gripe with the film is that Dr. Angelo is allegedly our “hero” but is more or less a criminal. He seems to have no issue with the fact that he experiments on a human being and is very invested in the “end justifies the means” method. Then, when this all blows up in his face due to the unethical nature of his funders, he doesn’t reflect on the fact that what he did was wrong and had disastrous consequences. In fact, at the end of the film he is still talking about having to take his work underground… mere seconds before his work causes a worldwide disaster! He’s a pretty bad dude, but the film never really addresses or acknowledges that fact. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So what happens when we schedule a film and forget that the previous one also qualifies? Well … we watch three movies in a weekend. We don’t leave men behind here at BMTHQ. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The main thing is the computer graphics. Those can easily sink an otherwise fine film. I was also genuinely curious about Pierce Brosnan. Just because outside of James Bond I don’t think I’ve really seen young Pierce Brosnan act very much. Fahey had a little outside shot at the Tropic Thunder Simple Jack corner going on as well, I was very curious as to how he would act out his character early in the film. What are my expectations? I was I guess hoping the entire thing would be a silly disaster with people going into computers TRON style and everything just going off the rails in the end. Otherwise it is just a stepping stone to its sequel.

The Good – I actually thought this film was pretty decent for the most part. The computer graphics have aged in such a way that it all kind of makes sense. I think the recent trend towards 8-bit and cheap-looking graphics helps immensely to make it seem mostly stylized at this point. I was also pleased with the evil corporation, which was giving me whiffs of RoboCop. Once you get past some of the early issues, the film does mature a bit into a decent techno-thriller.

The Bad – The beginning of the film is a mess, in particular the character of Pierce Brosnan’s wife was obviously cut from the film … except they couldn’t cut her so they just had her leave at one point. The entire film also spreads itself too film. The Lawnmower Man has beefs with: the abusive father, the abusive priest, the abusive guy at the gas station, the evil corporation / government entity, and Pierce Brosnan. Too many. They should have cut the priest and merged the gas station attendant and the abusive father. It would have focused Fahey’s simmering anger onto a single figure and clarified things. There is a decent argument that the eeeeeeeevil corporation / government entity was a bit too moustache twirlingly eeeeeeevil, but what can you do, it’s the 90s.

The BMT – Only by association. I think this is a lot closer to Good than Bad in the end, and its association with its sequel is what makes it BMT. If Highlander got bad reviews it would have been the same thing with Highlander 2: The Quickening. Did it meet my expectations? No I don’t think so. Or at least, not as a bad movie. It wasn’t nuts enough and the computer graphics weren’t terrible enough to get it over the top. As a good movie, it was a pleasant surprise though.

Roast-radamus – I think it has a very very outside shot at Good. And maybe the only other category it has a chance at is Worst Twist (How?). The twist being The Lawnmower Man getting into the telephone system and making all of the phones in the world ring all at once in the end, his birth cry as he says. I guess by itself it is jarring and perhaps a bit scary. But it is also incredibly obvious, and it is completely thrown away in the sequel. It is just a weird choice. The film won’t get anything in the end I don’t think.

StreetCreditReport.com – I’m not surprised it didn’t hit on any of the worst of lists I could find. It did get a shoutout at 35 for worst computer graphics in film (fair). And then both Lawnmower Man films get a shoutout on this list of films with virtual reality. Otherwise I can’t really think of another category it would qualify for … maybe for actors playing a disabled person, or worst Pierce Brosnan films.

Sklognalysis – Again, no time for schooling people. Here, … let’s go with a short analysis of eeeeeeeeevil scientists in BMT. The main one I always go back to is Dr. Alexander McCabe in the movie Bats, who ultimately is hoisted by his own petard when his mutant bats tear him apart with their razor wings. Brosnan is definitely an evil scientist. His arrogance convinces him that he can save humanity, that his science trumps the ethics surrounding human testing of new scientific methods. And in the end he creates a living god who can kill at will and take over the world. Sure the eeeeeeeevil corporation / government entity causes some of the issues by trying to hijack his research to create the ultimate weapon, but Brosnan’s inability to see that he is already creating a weapon with or without the enhanced aggression protocol is his downfall. I do love the neo-luddite aspects of evil scientists in film (a staple of Michael Crichton). Unfortunately, Brosnan misses it a bit as they pull the punch and place most of the blame on The Shop, the weird corporation / government entity that is funding him. I would have enjoyed the movie even more if Brosnan created his God and then sacrifices himself to save humanity from his abomination. It would have further simplified an already pretty messy film as well.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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