The Lawnmower Man

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6.8

Fair

The Lawnmower Man
The Lawnmower Man

Scream Factory continues to impress with its newest addition to their Collector's Edition series. Although dated at times, the film holds up thematically and with the help of a great cast manages to entertain!

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“Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) is a brilliant scientist obsessed with perfecting virtual reality software. When his experiments on animals fail, he finds the ideal substitute – Jobe Smith (Jeff Fahey), a slow-witted gardener. Dr. Angelo’s goal is to benefit his human guinea pig and ultimately mankind itself, but evil lurks the guise of “the Shop,” a shadowy group that seeks to use the technology to create an invincible war machine. When the experiments change the simple Jobe into a superhuman being, the stage is set for a Jekyll-and-Hyde struggle for the control of Jobe’s mind and the future of the world.”

The 90’s was an exciting time in respects to the growth of technology, with personal computers becoming affordable enough to have in every home. The possibilities of entertainment seemed endless, with new and innovative ways to bring new experiences into the comforts of your home, paving the way for the inclusion of computers into our everyday lives. This new realm of possibilities was a new source of material for Hollywood, trying to conceive of some of the most outrageous uses for it, as well as exploring the dangers of this new symbiosis between man and machine.

Several films of the 90’s delve deep into this new frontier, which may have seemed innovative at the time but now is unfortunately horribly dated. Films such as Virtuosity, and Johnny Mnemonic attempt to attach thematic elements to a virtual world, but after several decades have passed, only succeed in illuminating the ridiculousness of the technology and views on how it would develop in society.

Does The Lawnmower Man suffer this same fate? To a degree, yes, but the thematic elements that the film utilizes are first and foremost the most important part of the story, which is clearly evident, especially in the Director’s Cut. Featuring very little virtual reality effects in the first two acts, we are witness to Jobe embarking on this journey from a developmentally challenged man who advances beyond the range of human intellect in such a short amount of time. Not only are the parallels clear to the story of Frankenstein, similar parallels can be seen in films such as The Fly, as a scientist explores the edges of human existence with the selfish need to advance their work.

The third act embraces the virtual reality aspect entirely, and changes from a science fiction film to a horror film. Unfortunately, these effects have not aged well at all, which is the biggest downside of the film. That being said, for me, it wasn’t a deciding factor on my enjoyment of the film. The superb cast, including Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan, really keep you invested in the characters.

I’ve never read the short story by Stephen King, but always heard the stories how he successfully sued the studio for using his name on something that bears no resemblance to his original work. It’s funny that in the special features, they refuse to even mention his name, instead alluding to him as “the man whose name is above the title”. Regardless of the source, The Lawnmower Man is an entertaining science fiction/horror film that embraces the rapidly advancing technology at the time. Not without its flaws, if you focus on the characters and forgive the dated sequences, The Lawnmower Man can be a pretty entertaining film.

Video

The Lawnmower Man is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen 1.85:1, with new 4k scans of the interpositive of both the Theatrical and Director’s Cut. The Director’s Cut suffered from some pretty rough sequence cuts which were cleaned up in the new transfer, but still have a few noticeable moments as it cuts from deleted footage. Despite this, the transfer still looks incredible. Grain is present, but at a manageable level, true to the original look of the film. Colors are well balanced, with a bluish tint to many of the scenes taking place in the lab. Otherwise, bright and clear colors during the outside sequences. Mostly free of defects, only minor blemishes noticed throughout the film, namely in the deleted sequences that take the form of roller scratches in the source print.

Audio

The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The track sounds great here, with a good balance between the surrounds and center channel. There are some great effects in virtual reality, paired with an impressive score that is a good accompaniment to the film.

Special Features

Scream Factory, as always, gives their Collector’s Editions an excellent treatment. Not only do we get a Theatrical and Director’s Cut of the film, there is also a fifty minute documentary with the cast and crew, giving some great insight behind the scenes that give you a better appreciation for the film. I highly recommend checking out the featurette Cybergod, as well as the Director’s Cut of the film.

On this set you’re also going to see:

  • — DISC ONE – Theatrical Cut —
  • NEW 4K Scan Of The Interpositive
  • NEW Cybergod: Creating The Lawnmower Man – Featuring Interviews With Co-Writer/Director Brett Leonard, Actor Jeff Fahey, Editor Alan Baumgarten, Make-up Effects Artist Michael Deak And Special Effects Coordinator Frank Ceglia
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Brett Leonard And Writer/Producer Gimel Everett
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Original Electronic Press Kit With Cast Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Edited Animated Sequences
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • — DISC TWO – Director’s Cut —
  • NEW 4K Scan Of The Interpositive With Additional “Director’s Cut” Footage From The Original Camera Negative
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Brett Leonard And Writer/Producer Gimel Everett
  • Conceptual Art And Design Sketches
  • Behind-The-Scenes And Production Stills
  • Storyboard Comparison

Despite the dated effects and subject matter, thematically the film holds up over time. Scream Factory has gone above and beyond with this set, providing both versions of the film and some great extras. For a first time viewer, like myself, this was definitely worth picking up.

Good

  • Great Cast.
  • Interesting Story and Thematic Elements.

Bad

  • Dated Special Effects Scenes.
6.8

Fair