HCF may be one of the newest voices on the web for all things Horror and Cult, and while our aim is to bring you our best opinion of all the new and strange that hits the market, we still cannot forget about our old loves, the films that made us want to create the website to spread the word. So, now and again our official critics at the HCF headquarters have an urge to throw aside their new required copies of the week and dust down their old collection and bring them to the fore…. our aim, to make sure that you may have not missed the films that should be stood proud in your collection.
HCF REWIND NO.83. LAWNMOWER MAN 2: BEYOND CYBERSPACE AKA LAWNMOWER MAN 2: JOBE’S WAR 
AVAILABLE ON DVD
RUNNING TIME: 92 mins
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Dr. Benjamin Trace creates a brilliant device which allows unhindered access to all sources of electronic information such as banks and hospitals. When he questions their motives, the corporation that funded his research, led by scientist Benjamin Walker, take him to court and claim the device as their own. Trace disappears, so the corporation pulls a crippled Jobe from the wreckage of the first movie and offers him a job. Seven years later, Jobe’s secret work for Walker has lead to a future that’s advanced on the surface, but hides a sad underbelly of poverty and unemployment. A now 16-year-old Peter Parkette is now a computer hacker living underground and is found by Jobe in cyberspace. He wants Peter to bring Trace to him so that he can finish a powerful chip. It seems that Jobe has plans that go far beyond the sharing or stealing of information……
The DVD which I bought of The Lawnmower Man advertised in a small bubble on the front that the set also contained ‘free copy’ of the sequel. That in itself ought to set alarm bells ringing. Normally if a DVD set contains a film and its sequel they are both mentioned together rather than the knowledge that the second movie is also in the set being almost hidden away. The quality of the copy is also terrible because the UK distributors just copied a video that certainly looked like it had had too many plays. Yes, you got that right, so you have ghosting and blotches and all the kind of stuff you’ll remember from well-worn video tapes. I doubt anyone would want to upgrade it to the R1 though, as this is a seriously bad sequel that certainly deserves its appalling reputation, an awesomely stupid concoction that manages to be both confusing and dumb but isn’t enjoyable either, unlike a large amount of other bad science fiction. It’s easy to understand why Jeff Fahey declines to return as the Lawnmower Man, and why the film was such a flop.
In all of my reviews, I write a brief synopsis of the first third or so, but I actually had to spend a couple of minutes researching for this one, because I was not entirely sure what happened. The storytelling is so muddled that at times the only things you can be sure of are that the words ”cyber” and ”virtual” will turn up every minute or so. You know you’re watching a stinker when the words “The Future” appear on screen at the beginning with no date. This future is a poor man’s Blade Runner with lots and lots of blue to try and compensate for the lack of detail. The virtual reality technology in this story can now approximate reality, so the visuals don’t resemble those in the first film much, but most of it just consists of the kids flying over the ground Peter Pan style. In fact, not much occurs in virtual reality at all, which might be just as well considering the early scene where there’s a chase involving bike-type vehicles which lasts all of thirty seconds and is so ineptly staged it’s hard to tell what has happened. These first few minutes also destroy any good will anyone may have to this sequel in the scene where Peter appears to Jobe in his virtual reality world and asks him to help him. If you recall the first film, Peter was Jobe’s only real friend and their relationship was almost the heart of the film, certainly Jobe’s side of the story. Therefore you would think that much would be made of what should be a really touching reunion, but the scene is virtually emotionless and is over in no time.
The majority of the film consists of Dr Trace and our three heroic teenagers, who are homeless but have somehow been able to teach themselves advanced computer science and who possess equipment that works in an old train, trying to steal this chip Jobe is making called the Krylon chip and evading Jobe’s attempts to destroy them by controlling seemingly everything that is powered by computers [the one half-decent scene involves two trains]. We aren’t told enough about this chip and people keep talking about something called “Egypt” which is connected with it but I’ll be damned if I could work out what it is. It’s decided to, and I quote: “make Jobe so angry he destroys himself”, but the climax is…..a sword fight, which ends hilariously when one guy taps the other one and he jumps several feet backwards. But then there’s also that bizarre bit where they try to find out who wrote a computer program by looking at a 3D image of a word. In fact the film is crammed full of bizarre bits, but director Farhad Mann fails to inject much fun into the proceedings except incompetent staging of the simplest scenes.
Austin O’ Brien returns from the first film and Patrick Bergin turns up after a while, his hammy performance showing that he realises what he’s in and is doing his best to have fun with it. Robert Folk’s score is actually very good and actually sounds too grand for what is happening on screen, though the last two minutes of the end credits occur in total silence. Overall this is a piece of rubbish that is only really interesting for some of its concepts, as stupidly expressed as they are. When Jobe tries to turn the world into a virtual reality world, or make everyone live in his virtual reality world [it’s not really clear what he’s trying to do], I couldn’t help thinking of The Matrix and avenues which the Wachowski brothers could have gone down. Then again, all throughout Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, I kept thinking of other films I’d rather be watching.