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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)

(aka: Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War)

[1.0 turkeys]

The first Lawnmower Man movie was bad, but it wasn't nearly bad enough, in my opinion (and hey, that's whose opinion counts in this case) to warrant inclusion on this page. This half-baked sequel, however, is not only bad enough to be included on the page, its bad enough to earn my lowest rating.

The first ten or so minutes of this movie is presented in what I'll call "box format," as I can't think of anything better to call it, and I can't imagine that it is a trick popular enough to have been officially named. This isn't "letterbox format" mind you -- I know all about that, and I appreciate it more than the average movie renter. No, "box format" takes letterboxing to a new extreme. The picture is shrunk down to about a five by three inch box in the middle of the screen. I haven't a clue why this was done, and I hope never to see it again.

We're treated with a recap of the end of the first movie right off the bat. For those of you who don't remember what happened in the first movie, I'll be kind enough to tell you. A halfwit named Jobe gets smart and then somehow transfers his lifeforce into virtual reality and takes over the world.

The producers of this movie show this happening and then ignore it and bring Jobe back to bodily life outside of VR. The explosion that was supposed to have killed him instead just gave him a few burns. It also gave them a good excuse to give him plastic surgery to explain why Jobe now looks like Matt Frewer instead of Jeff Fahey.

Suddenly we're in "The Future," and Jobe is once again trying to take over the world, this time with the help of an unscrupulous business man who apparently thinks that Jobe is doing something for him. This guy actually seems surprised when Jobe doesn't do what he asks later in the movie. Hello? Anybody home? You give an evil guy ultimate power and then act surprised when he doesn't listen to you anymore?

This "future" looks to be about fifty or so years ahead of the time the original movie was set in, and yet Peter, the kid who was about 11 or 12 in the first movie, is now only 17 or so.

Jobe meets up with his old "buddy" Peter in VR and asks him to go find the inventor of the Chiron chip or else Cyberspace is going to "die," with Jobe along with it. Peter agrees, and the adventure starts.

What Jobe really wants is for the inventor of the chip, one Benjamin Trace, to help him complete the building of the chip by giving him the "Egypt nanoroutine." What this is is never actually explained, although it is alternately described as "a dam" and "the key to ultimate power." Ok.

From here the movie just kind of degenerates into a bunch of pointless chase scenes and even more pointless VR sequences. Let me just say that if VR is anything like how they show it in this film, I don't want to "jack in." It's pretty ugly, for the most part, and you still need motorcycles and stuff to get around. If I still have to walk and take cabs and stuff in VR, I sure as heck don't want to bother with it.

Why Jobe needs Ben to finish the Chiron chip is never explained -- presumably Jobe is about fifty times smarter than Ben is anyway. Why everyone seems to think that stealing the (presumably unfinished) chip from Jobe is going to stop him is never explained. (Don't they realize that if he built this one, he can probably cook up another one pretty easily?) Why movie makers insist on making VR an "actual place" instead of "just a simulation" is beyond me. By definition, VR can't be an "actual place." Am I the only one who understands the definition of the word "virtual" anymore?

I wish I could adequately convey the utter ineptitude of this movie. I wish I could "jack in" to your brain and dump out all the feelings of pain and anguish I felt while watching this movie. Only then might you understand how incredibly bad it is. Even stupid details like keyboards with a "point of view" key and a laser alarm that can detect "anything over zero Celsius" that is defeated by an ice cube can't make this movie watchable.

Scene to watch for: Stealing the chip.

Best line: "By the way, who are you?"

Things that make you go "Huh?": All the infuriating techno-babble.

View this movie's entry at the Internet Movie Database.

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