Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)
“God made him simple. Science made him a god. Now he wants revenge.”
Big budget flicks are rare on this blog for obvious reasons. Few studios are willing to commit any kind of budget to the crappy scripts behind most of these films, but Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996) is the exception that proves the rule. It is a sequel, which means it is already hobbled in a way that dooms it to be inferior to the original. To make matters worse, it is sequel that carries over with none of the original actors. The general rule in the film business is that if you want your sequel to be a mind sucking, vacuous mess, you make sure to introduce completely new actors in the roles of both old and new characters to permanently make the plot incomprehensible and confusing. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace does this with aplomb and earns a spot on the IMDB Bottom 100 list, clocking in at #69 (the most smutty number). The film is, apparently, also Beyond Cyberspace, which means that the sequel will probably be relying upon a plot heavy with nonsensical techspeak and overbearing special effects. The only actor of consequence I recognize from this mess is Kevin Conway who must have been desperate for work to hop onto this project. If all the original actors either bailed or couldn’t be paid enough money, its usually a bad sign. That, and has anyone actually heard of Lawnmower Man 1: Contained within Cyberspace? Really, this movie had nothing going for it.
Right off the bat we are exposed to the double whammy of a reliance upon unintelligible, overbearing effects and the lack of any sort of explanation of what the fuck we are actually seeing. I realize this is a sequel, but even so, you can’t just drop us into a bizarre, ultra-verdant world littered with stupid, mid-90’s computer effects and flying adolescents and expect the audience to understand what the hell the writing and production staff are trying to convey. There’s shattering backgrounds, digitally-appearing motorcycles, a dog controlling a computer system, and a bunch of teens dressed in weird knit clothes and silly hats. It’s like getting high and watching a Nickelodeon special from the 90’s. None of it makes sense and you yearn for the stable presence of Linda Ellerbee.
And then there’s that one sort of famous guy who pops out of nowhere after a completely unexplained motorcycle chase through an exploding jungle. I’m assuming he’s somewhat famous as he seems familiar. For what, I do not know, but its clearly not this movie. Oh, thank you IMDB, its Matt Frewer, who has appeared on TV shows and had a bit part in Watchmen (2009). Thanks to IMDB I also know he is the main chracter, Jobe, who was made simple by God, or something to that effect. Really all I know about Jobe comes from the film’s tagline and the spangly gold suit he’s wearing. He may be a Vegas showgirl lost in cyberspace for all I know. COME ON, WRITERS, GIVE ME SOME FUCKING CONTEXT HERE!
Or I guess you could just throw another horde of unexplained characters at me. That’s cool too. I like my film viewing to be like wading through a murky swamp of disconnected, overpowering digital graphics, children who look like rejects from Gullah, Gullah Island (1994), and a super-shady corporate and government alliance back-lit by a horde of blue spotlights. Yes. This is just what I want at the five minute mark of an 78 minute film. I want to be so thoroughly confused and bombarded with disconnected characters and images that I have no hope of ever understanding what the actual fuck is supposed to be happening. But, please, keep dazzling me with bright lights and early CGI. No, really, please do. I love the strategy at work here: dazzle the audience with garbage visuals and vacuous characters to hide the plotless mess you’ve cobbled together. There’s a reaosn you only did shit TV movies after this, Farhad Mann. Its because, when given the reigns to this movie you drove it straight into the ground and then pissed all over it.
Oh my God, kid, just go form a boy band already before the nineties are gone forever. Go. Just go. It was clearly your calling, because your whiny, nasally voice and shit acting skills give you no reason to stay in film. Also, this film is going to kill your career in the crib. No one ever made it big after portraying a character the audience knows nothing about, nor cares two shits about. He’s apparently back in the real world riding his motorbike through the desert to a cruddy old hut inhabited by a poor man’s Don Henley. He’s there to warn this Dr. Benjamin Trace character about Jobe, the evil corporation and the “Chiron chip” they are making. It has something to do with virtual reality, the internet, and crappy plot devices. Dr. Trace tells the kid to scram because he was done with this shit after the first crappy movie, but ends up getting involved anyway.
Then we get some scenes ripped off from Blade Runner (1982). Honestly, a homage is supposed to be a subtle thing, guys. Dr. Trace finds the kids in a subway car in an abandoned tunnel in a futuristic, shitty version of “The Boxcar Kids” novels. The kids and he exchange some “witty banter” designed to make the audience like the kids and identify with them, but all it makes me want to do is go out and kick a street urchin in the face. We also learn a bit more about Jobe, who was apparently a simpleton before some science-types got to him and made him a tortured, man-boy genius who is now building an entire virtual world. He also used to be the kid’s mom’s “lawnmower man,” which may or may not be sexual.
So the kid goes into the virtual world by “jacking into the VR,” which also sounds dirty. Though not as dity as jacking off it and the random incest jokes made by Jobe once he gets inside. Dr. Trace refuses to come in which irritates Jobe, who then goes apeshit when Trace won’t give him “Egypt,” which is apparently the codeword for something and a central part of the plot that is also lost on the audience. Also, Jobe waxes poetic on the Chiron chip before going crazy and pulling out a virtual sword to virtually stab virtual boy band kid. Unfortunately the VR is somehow real and it could kill him? I really don’t know, all I know is Trace pulls him out of VR and the obnoxious, overly-used world of graphics to return him to the hyper-stylized, blue lamp lit realm of the subway system.
Jobe unleashes the might of his control of the subway system from his chair in the VR Corp to cause the train to come towards the kids’ car. Dr. Trace leaps into action and sets the car on a different course, but not before it explodes unleashing a ball of fire throughout all the tunnels and causing the children to flee through them like, oily, greasy, dirty sewer rats with bad 90’s haircuts. They manage to escape through a manhole as Jobe smirks like a big smirking ass and the audience wonders what the hell they’ve stumbled onto. Who is Dr. Trace? What is the Chiron Chip? Why is VR World? Who are these kids, again? And why the hell should we care at all?
Also, why does Dr. Trace suddenly have a southern accent and drive a kidnapper’s van? And why is he taking a bunch of street urchins to the library at what looks like 3 AM? But you know what, I’m not even going to worry about all these basic plot questions that should’ve been remotely addressed by the writers because I’ll tell you what, those effects are wonderful! Oh yes, I could just watch this movie for the effects, which is, apparently, what the producers were intending/hoping audiences would do. Anyway, they dazzle us with more graphics, some cyber-stalking, and a bunch of fake hacker/computer speak that is meant to tell us that Dr. Trace is trying to find out where Jobe is at in the real world. Also, they find some Dr. Cori Plat who is like a total babe or something, I don’t know.
So the street urchin kids break into a Future Radioshack to steal some electronics for a poorly-explained reason. In the meantime, Jobe is having more fun with public transportation, this time causing a passenger jet to crash in some sort of retaliation over a Senator rejecting funding for VR. Its the most intense funding battle ever and Jobe just cackles to himself and then has to virtually kill one of his fellow scientists named “Guillermo” for being “nosy.” He kills him by tapping him on the head with a giant sword, which manifests itself by frying his eyeballs in real life. Also, they dazzle us with more meaningless effects and Jobe’s love of spangly gold clothes.
So they track down the hot doctor lady, because every movie needs one. And she and Trace also probably had a thing back in the day, because these plot lines are so predictable. He distracts her with his new accent of choice (Spanish) as the urchins attach a tracking device to her car and generally just roll around the parking garage floor like a bunch of dirty ferrets. They track her to the ~evil~ corporate headquarters that is foreboding and ominously lit by moving spotlights. Then there are some arguments and catfights between Dr. Codi and some other blond chick with strangely cut hair and whose only clear role in the film is to provide cleavage and cat fighting. And then there is some awkward arguing while peeing in the bathroom? I don’t know what was going on, mostly because I was too fixated on the fact that the writer honestly felt the men’s room was a necessary setting for the scene between the CEO of the company (Kevin Conway) and Dr. Cori to have a chat.
And then some bullshit happens leading to Dr. Trace and little Mister Boy Band sneaking into the corporate HQ using Dr. Cori’s stolen ID card to steal the “Chiron Chip.” Unfortunately, the security firm contracted for this joint also did private security work for Nazi Germany. Fortunately, they also were contracted out to Mussolini’s Italy. Some random fist-fighting and lasers and gunfire and Jobe controlling shit with his brain and Dr. Cori showing up, happens. Dr. Trace manages to smash a TV on someone’s head and then escape down a garbage chute reminiscent of a scene made almost twenty years earlier. Dr. Trace is no Han Solo, however that kid is almost annoying enough to be Luke Skywalker.
Then we get some more of the Dr. Trace/Dr. Cori love story that no one really gives a rat’s ass about because this movie is full of characters that are as hollow and uninteresting as a hole in the ground. They’re living rough in Dr. Trace’s cabin, which, when filled with the children, is more like a halfway house for a bunch of adolescent Vanilla Ice groupies. They also discover that, through a plot hole designed to further extend this clusterfuck of a movie, they stole a fake “Chiron Chip,” which means the past 53 minutes and eight seconds of this movie have been as much of a futile was of time for the protagonists as they were for me! Oh, joyous day!
In the meantime, the evil CEO Walters and Jobe are celebrating the start of the VR world with an elaborate virtual ceremony designed to lure the audience into staring at the cacophony of images and away from the gaping holes in the plot, terrible acting, and awful one-liners. This virtual world is supposed to be menacing, but its never made clear why other than Jobe’s occasional forays into public mayhem. Of course, those were done before the VR world was ready, so doesn’t that make the VR world a moot point? Isn’t all the danger from Jobe’s being locked into the “Beyond Cyberspace” (whatever the fucknuts that is) or am I just asking too much of this movie? Just unplug the Jobe guy and end this!
And we discover that Jobe’s only real powers come from his random, if very real, control over any and all forms of transportation. He smashes a helicopter into the side of Dr. Trace’s crappy hut thing and there’s more explosions and fire. New Line Cinema really broke the pyrotechnic/bad CGI budget on this one. So, after Jobe tries to kill them all with a helicopter, he then turns to causing meyhem by gaining control of credit cards, ATMS, banks, public water and power all in a plot to take control of the world and establish himself as the “new messiah.” It would’ve been nice if we had heard about this plot a little sooner, but apparently the writers and director were just making this up as they went.
So Jobe’s boss, Walker, gets pissy and Jobe ends up taking over corporate security which kills Walker because they mistake him for a terrorist in the discoteque-like halls of an alarm-riddled VR Corp HQ. Seriously, the code red alert for that place looks like a rave. All that they needed was some ecstasy. Also there is a random bike chase through virtual world as Dr. Trace becomes the reluctant leader of a children’s crusade to stop Jobe. Honestly, he’s got to be boned, since the forerunners to Hanson are bound to be useless in combat. Anyway, the bike chase gives them more excuses for shinies, explosions, and unnecessary “Whooping.” It also makes me completely forget about the fact that there should be a logical plot established from the beginning. By now I’m just happy with any scene that makes sense for more than the first…oh…twelve seconds.
Anyway, there’s a sword fight between Jobe and Dr. Trace who looks like a cross between an extra from Dances With Wolves and a poor man’s Jack Sparrow. He also cannot compete with the golden spangles of Jobe’s outfit, which even Elton John wouldn’t wear. They do the whole sword fight over a bottomless (virtual) pit thing before Jobe gets Dr. Trace on the ropes, only for the spry doctor to come back and win it for the good guy’s from behind as all the stupid little kids stand around and do diddly-squat. Jobe explodes in a ball of over-produced, digital, green explosions as he somehow destroys himself through a plot device that is completely unclear, and maddeningly related to the “Egypt” thing from the beginning that still has yet to get any context.
Thus with the enemy defeated and a cornucopia of virtual explosions, we get back to where this movie started: with flying children. They escape out of the VR World and this movie comes to a close, right? WRONG! No, we have to deal with the lead boy’s past affections for the “regressing” Jobe who is lying on the floor in the lab muttering and dying…I guess. Oh, and that CEO, Walker, he comes back and randomly captures the stupid Hanson boy look-alike and holds him ransom for the chip. Jobe in his twitching knocks Walter over though into a pile of live wires that electrocutes him. So much has happened in this last scene that I don’t care about, and I think it has to be a record for CaTC. I have never cared so little about characters I know next to nothing about in my entire time reviewing awful movies.
Anyway, the end is supposed to be touching…or something. I really don’t know because, well, the context still isn’t there. 73 minutes into the film, and what do I know about the film? Squat. Except that there is apparently a Lawnmower Man, whatever the fuck that is. I realize it is a sequel, but seriously, you need to catch the audience up somehow. You can’t rely on glitzy effects and the typical plot of “Children V. Corporation” without, well, characters. And a plot. And a clear villain. Also, WHAT THE FUCK IS A LAWNMOWER MAN? Seriously! Also, we meet the children first, but they become background characters to Dr. Trace, Jobe, and Dr. Cori. And…you know what, nevermind. Just suffice it to say that this movie is crap and probably cost a lot of money to make. So it is one expensive pile of shit all whored up with CGI and pyrotechnics. At the end of the day though…still a pile of shit.
Best Sexual Healing Moment:
Dr. Trace and Dr. Cori make-out in front of a room full of adolescents.
Best Tie-In To Real Events:
Virtual Reality is a bad thing. Especially for movies that rely upon it as a crutch.
Best Un-Real Event:
Probably the 95% of this film that was CGI.
Best Plot Twist:
THERE IS NOT REAL PLOT AND ALL THE CHARACTERS HAVE NO DEPTH WHATSOEVER! OH, LOOK, SOMETHING DIGITALLY RENDERED!!!
Best Family Moment:
I’m assuming Trace and Cori adopted the herd of children and Jobe into their family. I honestly don’t know though. Maybe they all hated each other deep down. We’d never know because the character development was written by someone with a severe social disorder.
Ooooh, tough call here kidlets. I’m going to go with Austin O’Brien because he played a character named “Peter Parkette,” which really offends me for some reason.
Well, I really don’t know what to say. It certainly deserves the spot it has, as the movie is utter garbage. But what makes it most mind-numbing is the fact that you can tell a lot of money went into this stinker. I mean, a lot more than I’m used to in these flicks. All the same, it was pretty damn awful. Hobbled from the beginning by a number of “Rules of the Sequel,” this movie never recovered, becoming a shitty movie, devoid of a message, devoid of characters, devoid of anything really. It’s just one, big, expensive nothing. For 74 minutes. Choke on yourself, Farhad. I’m giving this stinker a 2.5/10, which is probably generous, but I’ve still seen worse. But not by much. On a side note, I’ve decided to make this blog’s posts more regular. In other words, you can expect a new movie each week on Fridays. Ideally, midnight Thursday. Until next Friday!