Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Seek the Original (abbreviated): The Lawnmower Man

Not much to say about this one. How many people even remember this??

The Lawnmower Man (1992)
starring Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan

For some reason this movie popped in my head a few weeks ago out of the blue. I only caught the last fifteen minutes of it as a kid, and back in the early 90's, this was cool:



The computer animation mesmerized me. Nowadays it looks cheesy, but I remember when CGI like that was the cutting edge. It was new--nothing looked like that!

So what's it about? The plot is basically the same as any other science-gone-awry story: man invents something for the good of mankind (virtual reality), military wants to turn it into weapon of war, something goes wrong, project is suspended, scientist goes rogue and experiments on a human (Jobe Smith), the human turns into a monster and plans to take over the world.

In this case, experiments with virtual reality lead to a man having telekinetic power over the real world. Or something… I get the feeling the filmmakers struggled to justify why all this was happening. It's supposed to be about virtual reality, and yet they have to inject Jobe with mind enhancing drugs. So what's doing the trick? Is it the drugs, or is it the virtual reality? What military application does this have?

Forget it. It's a special effects movie. The whole thing is an excuse to showcase that newfangled computer animation stuff, and for the time, it looked incredible. These days video games have better visuals, but once upon a time, this was the shit!

The movie never feels like something real is going on. Everything looks like a set, the actors all act like they're acting. It's pretty forgettable save for the CGI effects time capsule. For that reason alone this movie needs to be preserved. Our children must be educated about where we came from.

But wait! This is allegedly based on a story by Stephen King! King wrote a story about virtual reality invading the real world??

Well, apparently not. Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man begins with a man named Harold who has let his lawn grow a little too long. So he hires someone to cut it for him. After a few beers and trying to understand the Wall Street Journal, he looks at the fat man who is cutting his lawn. Not only does he have a monster of a lawnmower, but the man himself is crawling behind the mower, naked, eating the grass clippings. The man seems to have cloven feet, and he says he works for Pan.

Harold calls the police to report indecency. That's when the lawnmower man releases his mower on Harold through his house. Since this is a Stephen King story, you can guess how it ends.

No wonder King sued the filmmakers to take his name off the movie. Maybe the screenwriters started off turning this story into a movie, but they did not finish with it. The only part of the movie that resembles King's story is when Jobe telepathically sends his own lawnmower into a neighbor's house and grinds up his friend's abusive father. It's pretty lame and out of place, but now I see where it came from.

I gotta wonder how they went from this story to the movie's concept. Don't think there's enough material to make King's Lawnmower Man into a feature film, and the movie we got didn't fare too much better in the plot department, but man, the special effects are a joy to behold. I guess I'm a sucker for those early 90's CG effects.

Now, back to Reboot.

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