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The Lawnmower Man Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

The Lawnmower Man Blu Ray Poster

Directed by Brett Leonard
Written by Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett
1992, 108 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on June 20th, 2017

Starring:
Jeff Fahey as Jobe Smith
Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Lawrence Angelo
Jenny Wright as Marnie Burke
Mark Bringelson as Timms
Geoffrey Lewis as Terry McKeen
Jeremy Slate as Father McKeen
Dean Norris as The Director
Austin O’Brien as Peter Parkette

The Lawnmower Man 01 The Lawnmower Man 02

Review:

Dr. Lawrence Angelo is a brilliant scientist researching the world of virtual reality and its potential innovations, using animals as test subjects. His work is funded by the government, which hopes to weaponize it against his wishes. He takes his efforts underground and works from home on a human subject, a simpleton named Jobe Smith. Dr. Angelo believes his work can make Jobe smarter and begins giving him injections. Jobe responds positively to the medicine and soon his intelligence passes that of the good doctor and he begins self-experimentation. Jobe briefly entertains a vindictive streak against those who have harmed him before moving on to loftier goals. Doctor Angelo fears his subject has suffered a psychotic break and must stop him before things get out of control and Jobe is lost forever.

The Lawnmower Man was inspired by a Stephen King short story about a man being attacked by a lawnmower, but the film bears such little resemblance to the source material that the author had his name removed. The screenplay written by director Brett Leonard (The Dead Pit) and producer Gimel Everett reflects far more interest in the development of virtual reality technology than in slasher elements and is more of a sci-fi thriller than a horror film. There is, in fact, a scene featuring a man attacked by a lawnmower, but it’s too little too late and sticks out of place from the rest of the picture. The script mixes elements of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon with heavy religious overtones for a respectable character drama.

The Lawnmower Man 03 The Lawnmower Man 07

Jeff Fahey (Psycho III) stars as Jobe and plays the role with a childlike innocence before moving on to more of a megalomaniacal spin on the character as the tale progresses. Fahey is instantly likeable as the put-upon Jobe and handles the intelligence arc effortlessly. He introduces hints of menace before ultimately being replaced by a computer-generated performance. Pierce Brosnan (Nomads) is wonderful as the well-meaning Dr. Angelo, a man trying to help mankind. Brosnan shares great on-screen chemistry with Fahey and the teacher-pupil dynamic is well-realized and works equally well once their relationship is reversed in the final act.

The film boasts an impressive supporting cast of players, including the beautiful Jenny Wright (Near Dark) as the horny widow Marnie Burke. She provides a terrific energy to the middle act in which Jobe is growing more intelligent and developing new interests in life. Geoffrey Lewis (Salem’s Lot) plays Jobe’s boss Terry, the local greenskeeper and brother to the town priest. Lewis is an actor who can cover a lot of ground with just a simple look and while he doesn’t get a lot of screen time here, he creates a memorable character. Jeremy Slate (True Grit) is intimidating as the quick-to-anger Father McKeen and Mark Bringelson (Heathers) is effectively slimy as government stooge Timms. Austin O’Brien (Last Action Hero) is quite good as Jobe’s friend Peter, and Troy Evans (Teen Wolf) provides a moment of levity as a particularly chatty police lieutenant. Breaking Bad fans will want to keep an eye out for Dean Norris as the menacing Director of the government agency, The Shop.

Brett Leonard’s virtual reality thriller may have lost Stephen King’s support, but manages to deliver an interesting story. The Lawnmower Man was part of a wave of menacing-computer movies that struck in the early 1990s and features the first instance of onscreen cyber-sex. The film’s biggest hurdle was its timing in that its central concept was out of reach for most audiences in 1992. Cinematographer Russell Carpenter went on to a monster career, including an Oscar win for his work on Titanic. Brett Leonard has continued to direct movies for many years before moving into a career developing actual virtual reality software. The visual effects here are predictably dated but are still effective and pretty to look at. The surrounding story is filled with decent pacing, respectable character beats and a satisfying conclusion that make it easy for me to recommend this title.

The Lawnmower Man 05 The Lawnmower Man 06

Video and Audio:

Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture really pops with color. The computer-generated world is something gorgeous and the regular world scenes look fine too. Flesh tones appear natural throughout and there is plenty of small-object detail.

A DTS-HD MA 5.1 track gets the job done with plenty of activity during the virtual reality sequences. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 counterpart preserves the original stereo mix of the material and is also quite nice.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

The Lawnmower Man 08 The Lawnmower Man 04

Special Features:

Disc 1 features the theatrical cut (108 minutes) with a mixture of supplements old and new.

A commentary with Brett Leonard and producer/ co-writer Gimel Everett is highly informative and full of good anecdotes. The track is entertaining and the participants are clearly fond of the project.

The all-new retrospective documentary Cyber-God (51 minutes) delivers an in-depth look back at the making of the film. Several participants from the cast and crew are on hand to share production stories, including Brett Leonard, actor Jeff Fahey and editor Alan Baumgarten. The piece covers a lot of ground on all stages of development of the project from concept through release and is well-paced.

A collection of deleted scenes (28 minutes) plays back-to-back without titles or clean-up. The material was later restored and included in the Director’s Cut.

A vintage EPK (5 minutes) includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with actors Pierce Brosnan and Jeff Fahey and director Leonard.

Edited animated sequences (4 minutes) provide a highlight reel of the early CGI sequences set to New Age music

Marketing for the film is spotlighted in the theatrical trailer and a TV spot. There is a noticeable gap in the audio removing Stephen King’s name from the narration at the beginning of the trailer.

 The Lawnmower Man 09 The Lawnmower Man 10

Disc 2 offers the extended Director’s Cut (141 minutes) which runs an astounding 39 minutes longer than the theatrical counterpart. There are many changes throughout with the majority appearing in the opening act.

An extended commentary with Leonard and Everett is the same track found on the theatrical cut with additional comments appearing over the new material.

A gallery of concept art and design sketches (35 images) provides a look at artist renderings of the sets and virtual world.

A collection of behind-the-scenes production stills (87 images) offers a look at the cast and crew, but there is not a section dedicated to the poster art or marketing materials.

Storyboard comparisons (2 minutes) reveal an early glimpse at ideas for some of the virtual reality sequences.

An Easter egg promoting a giveaway for the film is on hand and I actually won a t-shirt from this contest back in 1992.

The Lawnmower Man 11 The Lawnmower Man 12

Grades:

Movie: Threeandahalfstars The Lawnmower Man Blu Ray Cover
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The Lawnmower Man Blu Ray Cover
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Video: Fourstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: Fourstars

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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