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New Line Home Cinema presents
"Since the information superhighway has left people feeling isolated from their fellow man, the Virtual Light Institute will bring cultures and resources together in one continuous virtual environment."
DVD ReviewBack in the early 1970s, there was a television film called Colossus: The Forbin Project, which told the tale of a supercomputer that takes over the world. In 1983, another supercomputer wanted to play with Matthew Broderick in War Games. In 1968, a man played by Cliff Robertson was surgically enhanced with super intelligence in Charly, a movie from the short story, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes. Similarly, in 1974 George Segal was a victim of science in an early adaptation from Michael Crichton called The Terminal Man. The original Lawnmower Man was an interesting surprise in 1992, as Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan sought a way to fuse the imagination of man and the power of machine.
These films and many others form the lineage, direct and indirect, of Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War, which tells a tale of a man lost in virtual reality, determined to achieve world domination. This film is a disappointment on many levels with it cliché-ridden story, scenery chewing acting and direct ripoffs from other films: one scene is a direct crib from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the next is a low rent Blade Runner knock off. Toss in a bit of A Clockwork Orange, some Star Wars and mix well with every other mad scientist, heroic loner film you ever saw—it almost seems this a film not only about computers, but might be the first film made by a computer (and perhaps, Farhad Mann is a pseudonym for the machine!). Not far-fetched, because Mann also worked on Max Headroom
And Max Headroom is also the place that Matt Frewer, who stars here, achieved his first major fame. His shaved head and rolling eyes make for a most unpalatable screen image that has only recently been replaced by Picard's clone in Star Trek: Nemesis. His supporting players are quite forgettable, and forgetting is probably what Patrick Bergin is doing about his role in this epic as the scientist who invented virtual reality and now has come back to save the world from it. As the two shout at each across computer monitors, one can't help by cry "Why, why, why... why are they doing that?"
The plot line seems to involve something that requires endless chase scenes through tunnels and flying trips through virtual reality. I guess Jobe is angry about the fact that he used to look like Jeff Fahey and now looks like Matt Frewer. Austin O'Brien was the young boy in the original film and was about age 10. Now in the sequel, he seems to have aged about five years (the amount of time between the two films) and yet the Earth has moved into a distant future that has post-apocalyptic B-movie written all over it. Where do they have the factory that stamps out these sets, with the shooting flames and sweeping searchlights moving among the smoke and neon? He leads a group of teenage hackers that are not quite as annoying as the kid in Terminator 2, but that is only because it is difficult to follow what they are saying. All the techno-babble and inane non-explanations only plague this film.
This is definitely not a film to watch alone; one just has too much time to think about what is going on without the distraction of other disgruntled audience members. It deserves a party with popcorn and perhaps some beer or other reality alteration and a chance to shout and laugh at the absurdity of it all. In the context, Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War could be considered a hoot. Otherwise, this is just another late night piece of sci-fi drek.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D+
Image Transfer Review: The DVD picture quality is without noticeably glaring defects. Levels are good, although colors are faded slightly in some scenes. The computer-generated effects are the real star and somehow, the extended scenes here do not outweigh the silliness of the real world action, nor really measure up to novelty of the original Lawnmower Man film. There is an option to view the widescreen or the full-frame version of the film without flipping the disc, so expect compression artifacts.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The audio choices for Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War are English 5.1 digital and surround sound. Overall, the sound is not too bad with some nice surround effects and decent clarity. However, what the audio delivers is not up to snuff. The post-production work must have been rushed and/or over budget, because the dubbing of the actors, especially the kids, is just yucky. The bombastic score is an irritant worse than even Episode One of Star Wars (and that is saying something).
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
0 Other Trailer(s) featuring Willard, Critters
Extras Review: Included as an "extra" is a weblink that uses the cludgy Interactual Player (otherwise known as the "DVD crasher.") You go through changes to see it and find that it is just a link to somewhere advertising another movie. When you see the genius that passes for content design for extras and web content, you don't wonder that a web-enabled DVD has to rank as a top contender for "most useless technology of the new millennium." Otherwise, it is a trailer for this film and two other New Line offerings. With extras like these...
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsLawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War is lacking in almost any redeeming features as a film. Somehow, I think this one is headed to the "so bad it's good" category of masochistic film viewing. Look for it in the cut-out bin.
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