DVD region 2. Momentum.
Paul Verhoeven, this low budget science fiction indie manages
to overcome its limitations and produce some impressive action,
tied in with a conspiracy thriller and commentary about our surveillance
society. It’s a lot better than it should be as a result,
though it struggles with pacing issues (especially during the
first half) and some uneven performances.
In the near future, terrorist attacks have convinced an increasingly
authoritarian US government to create a national network of CCTV
cameras – including free-roaming Eyeborgs that range from
small cameras with legs to larger, spider-like machines –
and, as we see as the film progresses, rather more menacing creations.
Homeland Security Agent R.J. Reynolds (Adrian Paul) was the man
who first pushed for the Eyeborgs to be created and now finds
himself investigating terrorist activity. However, a series of
unusual deaths start to make him question just who is in control
of the Eyeborgs, and with the help of the President’s purple
haired punk rocker nephew and a typically feisty female TV reporter,
he starts to uncover the truth – that the robots are not
just watching, but actually eliminating people who they see as
threats. But who is in control of them? The answer won’t
come as much of a surprise to hardened genre fans, but it’s
nevertheless a satisfying enough twist.
Director Richard Clabaugh (who also co-scripted with his wife
Fran) aims for the sci-fi satire of Robocop and
Starship Troopers – a little too heavily
handed early on, as he doesn’t have the skill that Paul
Verhoeven had to mock totalitarian states – and there are
also elements of Hardware, Terminator
and Transformers to be found here, but the film
also has ideas of its own, and mixes its influences a fairly satisfying
way, building to a lively shoot-out between paramilitary police
and increasingly huge Eyeborgs.
For a low budget film, the scope is ambitious, and the effects
are very impressive – I’ve seen far, far worse on
much bigger movies. In fact, these robots look, for the most part,
very real, and they provide for very creepily effective ‘monsters’.
Unfortunately, a lot of the acting from real people is pretty
variable, which let’s things down somewhat, and the dialogue
probably needed a bit more work.
These minor faults aside though, Eyeborgs is
a lot of fun – lively, action-packed and with its heart
in the right place. Well worth a look.
The DVD comes with plentiful extras – three featurettes,
a bloopers real and six outtakes – including a topless version
of an ‘exotic car wash’ scene that features clothed
girls in the actual film, and has extra sweary dialogue. It's
the sort of scene you expect to find in an exploitation movie,
and it's strange to find it replaced by something more wholesome
(the scene in the finished film felt like a pointless exercise
while I watched it, and this alternative version shows why). It’s
absence from the finished movie suggests that Eyeborgs
is destined to turn up on its spiritual home SyFy before too long.
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IT NOW (USA) DVD