STARRING: Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright, Mark Bringleson, Geoffrey Lewis, Jeremy Slate, Dean Norris

1992, 105 Minutes, Directed by: Brett Leonard

Description: A scientist (Pierce Brosnan) is trying to utilize technology for governmental gain. As with all top-secret government projects in the movies, it goes horribly wrong. Forced to progress from a chimp to a human subject, Brosnan secretly recruits local backwards boy and lawnmower pusher Jobe (Jeff Fahey). The increases in intelligence are alarming. He learns Latin in two hours, becomes an object of sexual desire and then develops telepathic and telekinetic abilities.

Oh dear. Virtual reality finally hits the big screen - but not exactly in the way sci-fi fans or virtual reality boffins would have liked it.

VR boffins complained that Lawnmower Man created unrealistic expectations amongst the public of what to expect from their "LSD of the 1990s" (as once 'Sixties drug guru Timothy Leary dubbed it - talk about creating unrealistic expectations!). Sci-fi fans complained that the movie was mostly cack.

They had it right: the plot, a mishmash of horror and the latest in technological buzzwords, doesn't quite make the grade. Effects wise, this film deserves all the accolades it can get. The computer graphics are spectacular for its time and this movie is the first time cyberspace really makes it to the big screen. However, one cannot help but leave the cinema feeling cheated, feeling that all those incredible graphics might have been better served by a better screenplay - perhaps William Gibson's Neuromancer...

"This film gets three stars purely for its special effects . . ."

This film gets three stars purely for its special effects - and the lucid way in which it brings the concept of Cyberspace to a larger (movie) audience. The plot, alas, is pathetic. It is loosely based on a short story by horror maestro Stephen King.

In fact, it is so loosely based on it that King publicly disowned the movie. Not because it is a bad movie - God knows how many bad movies had been made out of Stephen King material! - but because the only thing the film and the short story had in common was the title. Then the movie's producers also had the gall to sell it as Stephen King's the Lawnmower Man on the movie posters . . .

The movie involves a scientist who makes a genius out of a simpleton with smart drugs (as in Frankenstein) and VR techniques. Jobe (he really is a Lawnmower Man having worked as a gardener previously) goes on a rampage killing off people as he goes along. One victim falls victim to a lawnmower he telepathically controls - I kid you not!

Finally he downloads himself into the Internet where he becomes a god of sorts - CyberJobe or something like that. Not scary and ridiculous at times, Lawnmower Man is a wasted opportunity.

It is partly because of this movie that when William Gibson finally made it to the big screen with Johnny Mnemonic it was nowhere as new or fresh as it could have been had it been made at the same time as Lawnmower Man.

Followed by a pointless sequel Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace  in 1996.



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