If Virtual Reality, secret government agencies, chimps that look a bit like Robocop, and a pre-James Bond Piers Brosnan float your boat, then you’re in luck!
The Lawnmower Man, at least in it’s time (92), was a very different film. You have to remember that CGI – in the proper sense – was really still in it’s infancy, and using a CGI characterwas almost unheard of. Bearing just this mind, you have to give director Brett Leonard props for giving it a try.
Ok, so what do lawnmowers have to do with virtual reality?, Very little.
The plot of the film revolves around the relationship between Dr Lawrence Angelo (Brosnan), and Jobe Smith (that guy from Lost). After a failed attempt at using chimps wearing cybernetic battle-helmets and enhanced IQ’s (yes, really), Doctor Angelo goes rouge, and uses his secret technology to enhance the mind of local handy-man, and simpleton, Jobe by plugging him into – what appears to be – an Atari ST tech demo. The experimental process works, but with some shocking side-effects.
Now, I know on paper this story line could be misconstrued as ‘cheesy’ – and you wouldn’t be totally wrong – but bear with me.
This film excited me as a teenager, because it showed us all the potential of two things. 1.) that in a few years time, Jar Jar Binks could become a reality, and 2.) that digital art was finally becoming a viable medium in film. I know it’s very easy for us to poke holes at CGI, but I, personally, believe it has enhanced our story-telling abilities.
According to the press release, this film was originally released on DVD in 1997 – I wasn’t aware that DVD players EXISTED in 1997 – but, personally, I’m glad it’s back again. Brosnan plays a convincing mad scientist, and Jeff Fahey (that guy from Lost) does a great job as a simpleton-turned-genius-CGI-madman. Add the special features in this double-disc set – a commentary, featurette, and The Sequel – and you have a package well worth picking up.