The Lawnmower Man - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
    Staff Member
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    Apr 4, 2017
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    The Lawnmower Man

    Movie: :3.5stars:
    Video: :3.5stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :3.5stars:
    Final Score: :3.5stars:

    [​IMG] Movie

    Most of us can’t think of The Lawnmower man as anything more than that double feature DVD that we all saw in Walmart’s bargain bin for the better part of the last decade and a half. I vaguely remember seeing the film in the early 2000’s, but promptly forgot it in an era of The Matrix and other films that eclipsed it in scope and depth during the age of new technology. It wasn’t until a few years back that I actually decided to pull out my old DVD double feature (trust me, the sequel is well worth forgetting, so only watch this one) and re found this lost sci film movie that absolutely defined the turn of the millennium in terms of computer graphics and cautionary tales of technology gone awry. Most of the CGI is heavily dated (as is most any CGI from the 90s), and the low budget film never really caught hold of the mainstream, but Scream Factory has put together quite a nice collector’s edition to enjoy today with newly remastered video, and some great special features to dig into.

    Whether you love it or hate it, The Lawnmower Man is a science fiction film that absolutely defined and shaped the use of CGI in modern sci-fi films whether we like it or not. The 1992 film reminds me much of Hackers, as it takes the same cheesy approach (or it at least seems cheesy compared to modern efforts) with the use and abuse of technology in today’s society. Despite being rather cheesy and dated, the film was an indie movie that had a shoestring budget and was actually considered a moderate success back in 1992. The movie delves into the consciousness with a basic cautionary tale of moving too far, too fast (as have films like The Terminator etc). Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) is a research scientist at a government lab working on virtual reality as a means of unlocking access to a super soldier when he decides to up and quit after an experiment with a chimp goes extremely wrong. Moving back home, he puts the experiments of the past “kind of” behind him, only to ruin his marriage after trying to restart his own work.

    The thing is, Dr. Angelo can only get so far on self-tests and theoreticals. He needs human subjects and that’s something that he was never given authorization to do. Frustrated at the lack of progress, the scientist realizes that he can jump start his experiments by using the slightly “slow” lawnmower man that mows his neighbor’s lawn without much notice. This young landscaper named Jobe (Jeff Fahey) is eager to go along with anything that Dr. Angelo has to say, and is soon over his head with neurotropic drugs and therapy that power shoots him from a dim-witted handyman to a veritable genius in a matter of months. I’m sure you can all see this coming, but soon Jobe is growing in leaps and bounds, intellectually surpassing Dr. Angelo in a matter of months. With that newfound intelligence comes a newfound ego. A newfound sense of power that soon overwhelms the simple Jobe and turns him into a megalomaniac with INCREDIBLE psychic powers. Powers that very well could endanger all of humanity if Dr. Angelo can’t control him in time.

    Back in the early 90s Virtual Reality was the next big thing. Scientists were proclaiming that it was going to be THE future. A future that was akin to us floating around on hoverboards and riding about like the Jetsons, but instead was going to shape our reality like no other. Think of Star Trek variants and the holodeck. Everyone and their mother was proclaiming that this type of future was going to be next, and with it came all sorts of people fearful that virtual reality would be the way for mind control to come about, or a way for humanity to disassociate itself from the rest of the world and encapsulate us in a virtual bubble (I think that honor goes to our smart phones really). Looking back it seems kind of comical that this was the future our predecessor’s envisioned for us, but that was the reality of 25 years ago. Even though details of the film are a bit off the wall, the general premise and life lessons ring true for today. The Lawnmower Man paints us a picture of what happens when humanity tries to grow outside of the natural order of things, and how our own meddling into our evolution can upset the natural order of our existence.

    As a whole the film works, but it’s more of a cheesy nostalgic look into the past rather than a film that stands the test of time. The Lawnmower Man is NOT a bad film, but rather a forgotten one, relegated to the bargain bit at Walmart. Scream has actually given us a really impressive collector’s edition, with a double disc presentation that employs a new 4K master (for both variations of the film). On disc one we have the theatrical cut of the film, and on disc two is the 141 minute director’s cut with over 33 minutes of extended footage. With most directors/extended cuts of movies you can usually say right off the bat which one is superior. Here it’s a much tougher decision. I personally LIKE the extended cut a lot more, but there are some distinct flaws that go along with the 33 minutes of new footage. The theatrical cut is enhanced with 33 minutes, with most of those 33 minutes belonging to new conversations between the townsfolk and Jobe. These conversations slow the plot down considerably, but they also add a distinct layer to the movie that enhances it a lot. These conversations add to the sensation of dread and humiliation for Jobe, as he’s systematically abused by the townsfolk, making him into a sympathetic villain (so to speak). These enhanced moments make the film more organic and natural, while at the same time they also slow the film down and make it more cerebral than the theatrical cut (something which I personally don’t find a bad thing at all).


    Rated R for language, sensuality and a scene of violence

    Video: :3.5stars:
    Scream Factory has put together a new film presentation taken off of a 4K remaster that generally looks very nice. The 2 discs are each given a version of the film in 1.85:1 AVC encoding. One given the theatrical cut, and the other given the 141 minute director’s cut, so each has its own room to breathe. Honestly, if you compare the two discs you really can’t see much of a difference. The two versions are given nearly identical encodes, and the source material looks to be equally solid betwixt the two.

    The film is given a very nice and filmic presentation, with some issues that crop up here and there, but overall resulting in a pleasing look. The outdoor shots, and many of the holographic world shots maintain a very impressive amount of detail, with good colors (especially when Jobe is out mowing the front lawn), but there are some scenes that look like they’re in bad shape, with crush and blocking galore. These shots are usually indoors, inside the lab, or inside Dr. Angelo’s basement where black crush comes into play and the color palate leans towards a desaturated and flat blue/grey hue. Grain can spike during those shots and the overall image is a bit muddy. Otherwise, the 4k remaster for both discs looks quite nice, with bright colors and plenty of detail to go around.

    Audio: :4stars:
    [​IMG] Scream once more gives us the typical 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 DTS-HD MA combination to choose from, and naturally the 5.1 mix gets the upper hand. Right off the bat I noticed that
    The Lawnmower Man is recorded quite a bit lower than most mixes (a good 6-8 decibels lower I might add), but that’s something that a quick boost in the volume level fixes easily. However, that low level volume persists throughout the film, giving us the sensation that things are ever so slightly muted, even thought any louder and certain scenes get uncomfortable. Vocals are rather clean and clear, but they do get a bit muted at times, and the overall use of the surrounds is only so so. The explosions at the end, or the gunfire when Dr. Angelo attempts to breach the outer perimeter of the lab is quite explosive, but the film tends to be very dialog centric, with most of the activity locked up front in the main three channels. LFE is clean and used well, mostly in the use of the score and a few explosions, with a smattering of activity elsewhere in the film.

    Extras: :3.5stars:

    Disc One
    • 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
    • Optional English subtitles

    Disc Two
    • 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
    • Optional English subtitles

    Final Score: :3.5stars:

    The Lawnmower Man is a strange, yet important, part of science fiction history. It may not be the most well-regarded film in the genre, but it played a very important part in ushering in the CGI laden style of films that we see before us today. The cautionary tale of advancing too far, too fast, is nothing new, and The Lawnmower Man really doesn’t make any efforts to stand out from the pack really. Instead it acts as a doorway to the future, with many other films copying the over aggressive CGI laden storyline, and using the elements that made it pertinent to create even bigger and better films. Films like The Matrix borrowed themes and imagery from it, and the socio-political elements of the film transcend modern storytelling to some degree. Whether you love it or hate it, Scream Factory’s new special edition is arguably an excellent collector’s editions for fans of the film. The 2 disc special edition houses 4k remasters of both the theatrical and director’s cut, as well as a host of new and old special features. I find it one of the lesser sci-fi films of the last 30 years, but still a fun watch for those who love the film, and a nostalgic watch for those who haven’t seen it in a long time.

    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright
    Directed by: Brett Leonard
    Written by: Stephen King (Title only), Brett Leonard (Screenplay)
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
    Studio: Scream Factory
    Rated: R
    Runtime: 108 Minutes /141 minutes (Director's Cut)
    Blu-ray Release Date: June 20th, 2017

    Recommendation: Fun Nostalgic Watch

  2. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

    Apr 14, 2017
    Likes Received:
    I remember watching this one way back at the $1 movies Lol!

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