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When I heard that New Line Home Video was going to release THE LAWNMOWER MAN ($25) as part of their Platinum Series on DVD, I was quite excited. The only thing that lowered my expectations about the DVD release, was when I discovered that New Line was releasing the theatrical version of the film, instead of the extended and even better Director’s Cut. The first time I saw THE LAWNMOWER MAN, I knew that this film was something extra-special in the science fiction genre. THE LAWNMOWER MAN was also the first film to bring the concept of virtual reality to prominence.

Jeff Fahey stars as Jobe Smith, a man with the intelligence of a small child who mows lawns for a small landscaping company. Pierce Brosnan is Dr. Lawrence Angelo, a scientist working for a secret government agency. Angelo’s work involves using virtual reality as an intelligence enhancement tool for training chimpanzees for combat scenarios. When Angelo encounters problems with the agency, he turns his attention to Jobe, hoping to increase the lawnmower man’s intelligence to normal levels. Angelo’s work with Jobe produces better than expected results, turning the once simpleminded man into the most intelligent human being on the planet.

Jobe’s abilities continue to evolve, turning him into something much more than human. Writer director Brett Leonard and his co-writer Gimel Everett create a completely plausible science fiction concept and execute it brilliantly. THE LAWNMOWER MAN is intelligent science fiction at its best. The film is highly entertaining thanks to a marvelous screenplay and the two stars who deliver highly believable performances. Fahey and Brosnan do not get enough credit for their work in this film, since science fiction isn’t taken seriously. Both actors do some of their best work in THE LAWNMOWER MAN. The cast of THE LAWNMOWER MAN also includes Jenny Wright, Mark Bringleson, Geoffrey Lewis, Jeremy Slate, Dean Norris, Colleen Coffey, Jim Landis, Troy Evans, Rosalee Mayeux, Austin O'Brien and Michael Gregory.

New Line Home Video offers THE LAWNMOWER MAN in a gorgeous looking Letterboxed transfer which presents the film with its proper 1.85:1 theatrical framing restored. The Letterboxed transfer features the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. Colors are especially vivid during the computer graphic sequences of the film. However, saturation is excellent throughout. Detail and sharpness are also superb throughout the film. Digital compression artifacts were never a problem on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack features a great mix that really draws one into the virtual reality sequences. Other soundtrack options include matrixed Dolby Surround and an audio commentary. The DVD offers subtitles in English and Spanish.

The interactive menus are amongst the finest produced. They are animated and capture the flavor of the film perfectly. Through the menus one can access the film’s supplementary features, most of which reside on side two of the DVD. The DVD’s main supplement is the running audio commentary that accompanies the film, featuring Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett. I think the commentary is great since the participants are so enthusiastic about the film that they make the listener enthusiastic about it as well. This Platinum Edition’s other excellent supplementary features include twelve deleted scenes that would have been part of the Director’s Cut, on screen interviews, all the virtual reality sequences edited together with original music, storyboard comparisons, a theatrical trailer and cast biographies/filmographies.

I really like THE LAWNMOWER MAN and think that New Line has done an excellent job with their release of the standard theatrical version of the film. This DVD will make a worthwhile addition to most collections, however I remain hopeful that someday we will see the director’s cut of THE LAWNMOWER MAN issued on DVD.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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