Tuesday 30 August 2011

Lawnmower Man 2

“I’m still a little unclear as to how all this fits together,” asks one of the characters in this utterly baffling sequel. The confused viewer will no doubt sympathise. 

Subtitled ‘Beyond Cyberspace’, it would be more accurate to have called it ‘Beyond All Sense’. 

Never let it be said, that Exploding Helicopter doesn’t like a challenge. From the fragments we are intermittently offered by writer/director Farhad Mann we were able to discern the following about Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996).

Jobe (Matt Frewer), the gardener turned mad genius who was killed off in the first film, has been revived (explanation impossible). The megalomaniac loon is now trying to create a chip that will allow him to control the world’s computers.

Meanwhile some street kid computer hackers stumble on what Jobe is up to. They seek out Benjamin Trace (Patrick Bergin), a retired virtual reality whiz, who is the only man who can stop the dastardly scheme.

Realising who is working against him, Jobe makes numerous attempts to kill Bergin (who spends the whole film dressed like he’s in an extra in Dances With Wolves) and his team of unlovable street urchins.

One of these efforts involves attacking Bergin’s mountain hideaway. Using the ‘power of the internet’, Jobe takes control of a helicopter that happens to be flying nearby.

He steers the aircraft on a crash course towards Bergin’s wooden cabin, but the tell-tell ‘thwacka thwacka’ of the rotor blades alerts the occupants. The helicopter crashes into shack as Bergin and the pesky scamps flee to safety. 

But wait! The danger isn’t over. The chopper’s momentum takes it skidding through the hut which becomes stuck to the fuselage. Now resembling a burning sleigh, the wrecked copter slides towards the heroes who dive into a ditch to avoid being mown down. 

Artistic merit

Surprisingly good. Despite the film’s low budget the films special effects in this sequence are actually a pretty good combination of model work and CGI. 

You might justifiably have higher expectations given that the Lawnmower Man was widely praised on its release for its special effects. But given that Lawnmower Man 2 is a cheap cash-in, with a budget notable by its absence, it should be judged on its merits.

Exploding helicopter innovation

It’s a nice idea to turn the burning chopper wreckage into a skidding sleigh that pursues the heroes. 

Relevance to plot

Shaky. Let’s just say it’s mightily convenient that the helicopter was nearby and could be turned into a remote controlled kamikaze chopper.

Interesting fact

Intriguingly for a film about computer generated realities Jobe is played by Matt Frewer who was the face behind 80s video jock Max Headroom. Director Farhad Mann directed an episode of the series which presumably led to his casting here.

In the first film Jobe was played by Jeff Fahey. He like Pierce Brosnan wisely decided not to return for this piece of celluloid drivel. Austin O'Brien is the only person to feature in both films.

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