The Lawnmower Man is available now on DVD

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.

"wait...didn't I see you in Lost?"

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.

Ken Eakins

About the Author

Ken Eakins is a filmmaker and weird stuff enthusiast from the South of England.

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