Review for The Lawnmower Man: 2-Disc Director's Cut
I missed out on the first DVD release of The Lawnmower Man, and have been nursing my VHS copy since I bought it, so you can bet that when this Director's Cut DVD was announced, I poised myself to pounce, and have been suffering from cramp ever since. Ok, so VR turned out to be a dead end, so a handheld console can outdo the digital effects in this film, but The Lawnmower Man turned out to be prescient in many ways. I also found it to be a stunning and effective sci-fi horror, which still isn't an oversubscribed genre. Of course, the less said about the kiddified sequel, the better.
I was looking forward to taking my time and reviewing the discs, but I forgot that I had entered into one of those reviewer lotteries that the big studios have so much fun with. The DVD's out in mid-October, but the studios want their discs back now! Or as close to now as possible. That means that I don't have the time to watch the film, to write about the story, the acting, or any of that stuff.
I do have the time to tell you why you are not going to buy this film, and I do have the time to tell you that even if I was the thieving pirate that the big studios are so convinced that I am, I would still treat this DVD like something a puppy yet to be housetrained had left on the carpet. And it's nothing personal against security crazy studios that send draconian security contracts with the disc, instead of informing you before you request them, in case that might put you off the added expense. And by the way, expecting the discs back by courier (requiring signature), when you send them in unpadded envelopes by normal mail… not going to happen!
So the reason that you are not going to buy The Lawnmower Man Director's Cut on DVD. This is 2010, we're all going hi-def now, with Blu-rays and all sorts of cool hi-tech stuff. We're all savvy about how films should look, we're meticulous in demanding the finest in audio-visual quality. The Lawnmower Man: Director's Cut, with its 40 minutes of extra footage comes in 4:3 pan and scan. That's right, it's for old TVs. It also has a runtime of 140 minutes, exactly the same as the US director's cut, which means that not only is it pan and scan, it's an NTSC-PAL standards conversion, with ghosting, judder, lower resolution, the whole litany of complaints apply. Not that you care at this point, but the whole thing is VHS quality, so there's even less detail than you would have hoped for. As for audio, how does a muddy DD 2.0 stereo track grab you, lacking in clarity and frequency range? At least there are subtitles.
There are extras to help salve the wounds. And these are the only discs on the planet where the Universal logos are skippable. The discs autoplay with a trailer for the indiVision label, and they get pleasant themed animated menus.
The Lawnmower Man gets the Trailer, 10 minutes of deleted scenes, 2 minutes of Storyboard to Film Comparison, an Animated Montage that collects the CGI of the film into a 4-minute sequence, and a 5-minute making of featurette.
The insult to injury comes in that all except the featurette are presented anamorphically in the original aspect ratio.
Incidentally, mention was made in the PR blurb of a director's audio commentary. It isn't here.
The big extra, or a big reason (if you need another one) not to buy is the inclusion of the sequel, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace on a separate disc. It's the one where Matt Frewer replaced Jeff Fahey. They look nothing alike, but hell, Matt Frewer was Max Headroom, he's practically overqualified.
Widescreen! Don't get excited though as it is a cropped, 1.85:1 letterbox transfer. The film's OAR is 2.35:1. This is a native PAL image, but once again, it's dismally poor VHS quality, which will have your big screen TV spitting in derision. It has subtitles, but they are zoom unfriendly. It's also another 2.0 Stereo track, which sounds even muddier than that on the first film.
So, there you have it. You have been warned. If you buy this DVD, you only have yourself to blame. You can have your discs back now Universal. Seriously, you worry about movie piracy when your legitimate product looks worse than pirated material?