Lawnmower Man - Win DVDs

Lawnmower Man
LAWNMOWER MAN could probably be considered something of a sci-fi "cult classic", but the trouble with many genre "cult classics" is they don't stand up to much scrutiny nor the passage of time. It is often described as being prescient for its use of VR and cyberworlds, but William Gibson had done this ten years earlier in Neuromancer, as had Max Headroom. What may have been cutting edge CGI in 1992 is quaint by today's standards, but even by contemporary standards the VR world of film was sub-standard, bearing in mind that Pixar had already won an Oscar four years previously, and TRON was a full decade before (in fact, the VR suits in LAWNMOWER MAN have an uncanny resemblance to the TRON suits). Although the VR effects were the film's big selling point, it is the human story that is LAWNMOWER MAN's greatest strength, as Pierce Brosnan's Dr Angelo turns the town's simpleton Jobe (Jeff Fahey) from an idiot savant into a savant with a messiah complex and a line in revenge, with the use of drugs and virtual reality. A similar concept was explored in Ken Russell's ALTERED STATES, although using a lower tech sensory deprivation tank and LSD, and made with practical and optical effects rather than CGI. Angelo's experiments were basically altruistic, but being an American movie it all gets hijacked by the military-industrial and ends in lots of explosions.

This new DVD release is a new Director's Cut that is in glorious Academy format (4:3). The transfer is as good as can be expected from a film of that vintage that doesn't get a full digital restoration/remaster, which is more than can be said for bonus disc that comes with it – the sequel, LAWNMOWER MAN 2: BEYOND CYBERSPACE. What the first had in originality has been replaced with sci-fi clichés. The sets look like they are from a low-budget remake of BLADE RUNNER and 1984; Matt Frewer has replaced Jeff Fahey as Jobe and ends up doing a pallid Max Headroom impression. In fact, the whole film is like an episode of Max Headroom (but not as good), which is rather disappointing because Max was made more than a decade prior. The DVD transfer looks like it was from VHS as it is in letterboxed 4:3 format that sits in the middle of the screen with a large black border around it. It's not a total disaster and makes for substantial DVD bonus to the original film beyond the usual fawning behind-the-scenes that appear on most DVDs, although there is one of those too.

LAWNMOWER MAN is not really a genre classic, but it certainly is an interesting curio. It is out on DVD now, and is the latest, and first sci-fi, addition to Universal's IndiVISION library. It is available from Play for £6.99, and from all good retailers.

We have five copies to give away courtesy of Universal IndiVISION. Click on the link below to enter the competition.

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