Thursday, November 4, 2010

'90s Trash: Digital Man

Robocop was a great movie.  The sequels did not live up to the original- nor did either show, as far as I can tell- but this didn't stop the wave of Robocop-lite films.  Remember that I'm one of the few people who's actually seen and reviewed Cyborg Cop 1 and 2 (or 3, depending the disc you get).  For the record, Cyborg Cop 3 is an unrelated film involving two cops battling robots with insect blood as fuel.  No, really.  This 1995 action film is another in the line of those kinds of films, although this one also manages to rip off stuff like Aliens and, to a certain extent, Alien Nation in the process.  The film stars a whole slew of people that either were famous at one point or never quite reached that level.  This includes Adam Baldwin (no relation) and Paul Gleason, aka the Principal from The Breakfast Club, among others.  This is just one of those films where everyone kind of looks like someone you might have seen in something else, but you just can't place it. In fact, that's probably a good comparison for the movie itself.  It's probably a film that's played on cable channels for the last ten plus years and we've all seen part of it, but never enough to remember it clearly.  Let me help you out then.  Get out your high-tech stun gun for my review of...
The film begins with a credit sequence full of very dated digital effects.  If you liked ReBoot, but wish that it was more low-res and generic, you're in luck here!  We're thrown right into a tense situation: terrorists have our nuclear launch codes!  No explanation to how they got them or what they plan to do with them, however, they just do!  The leader of a nearby military base (Baldwin) stretches protocol by calling in a D-1 unit to stop them.  This is the titular Digital Man, who is basically Robocop, but with an Australian man at the helm.  Take not of how his 'head' is never covered by a helmet.  At most, he has a giant headset that makes him look like an extreme 'Starcraft II' player, but not a killer.  He flies over in a space ship that is the height of cheap '90s effects and proceeds to...crash his ship into the ground about a mile from their base.  This is apparently part of his plan as the men suspect nothing now.  He manages to make his way over and kills all of them.  One poor guy goes to the bathroom, only to come out as the shooting starts.  Dude, the guy is using a gun that would give Reb Brown a 'happy ending'- you'd hear that shit!  He chases one man out in the desert, since he has the codes.  That guy gets killed in the first of many randomly-placed explosions related to the D-1's gun.  It apparently fires rockets through people, causing the ground several feet behind them to explode.  After blowing the crap out of the base, he calls for his retrieval ship.  However, something fishy happens...
The government's first mistake is sending Clint Howard out to retrieve the D-1, since he plans to steal the codes and sell it.  Yes, because that plan worked so well ten minutes ago!  He gets killed by the D-1 once he breaks, more than before, causing the ship to crash.  This leads to some bitching by the boss, as well as more bitching by the D-1's creator (Gleason).  This leads to nothing, so let's move on.  Eventually, Baldwin and company assemble a team of mercenaries to go destroy the D-1 unit and retrieve the codes.  In a bizarre sub-plot, a few of the people are apparently cyborgs.  This causes serious dissension in the ranks, although I can't figure out why.  Oddly, this was made one year before 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was law- irony!  The D-1 ends up in a backwater town that you can substitute for any hick town, Texas settlement or the entire state of Arizona.  He runs into some comedic relief characters who have a satellite dish that he can use. He causes mayhem and kills the Sheriff with his odd, delayed-explosion gun.  Our heroes fly over in another bad effect before they get shot down.  This requires them to walk all the way to the town, as opposed to just landing close.  The D-1 is kind of a dick, so he fires random shots over the cliffs at them.  Eventually, the Asian man stays behind to slow the D-1 down, but he blows up.  Moments later, we find him in one piece.  Huh?  By the way, he's a cyborg.
The movie crams a lot in the last forty minutes or so- try to keep up!  Baldwin questions his commander about his actions and plots on his own.  Meanwhile, more of the commando guys get killed by the D-1 unit, all the while bitching at each other about who might be a cyborg and who might not be.  Seriously, this plot thread accomplishes nothing!  We also get a romance sub-plot between the group leader and the feisty redhead.  However, that gets cut short when she dives dramatically away from an explosion, followed by a blast that nukes the comedic relief characters.  Thank you, movie.  The finale involves the remaining two commandos battling the D-1 in a generic building that is full of pipes and metal.  Wow, that's from...every movie like this ever.  The black guy makes it to the end, only to blow up in an explosion that injures the D-1 and our hero.  He fights the D-1 hand-to-hand, but that goes badly.  The D-1 just cheats, picking up its now recharged gun, prompting the redhead to shoot it.  Screw you, logic!  They defeat the D-1 with their sci-fi tasers, which is just in time for the boss to show up.  By the way, he kills Baldwin, Gleason and just about every other supporting character moments before this.  He tries to kill our heroes, only to be shot by the 'feisty granny' character.  Everyone leaves happy, save for the dead people.  The End.
This movie sucks!  The plot is nothing to speak of, merely involving a bunch of people just looking for a bald robot.  Could you give them more actual motivation or development, maybe?  No, that crap about 'who is a cyborg' does not count!  What point did that serve?  Did the revelation of someone being a robot add anything to the plot or help defeat the villain?  No!  The worst part about it is that this kind of shafts other people for time, including Baldwin and Gleason.  I'm more upset by the latter than the former, obviously.  That guy's the best part of No Code of Conduct, aside from watching the film try to rationalize Martin Sheen be in it.  All of you people who used to watch the cheesy action films that F/X would play during the afternoons know what I mean!  In the film's defense, some of the explosions are cool-looking and the D-1 design is eye-catching.  Unfortunately, both of them are over-used to the point of ruining their appeal.  This film almost manages to 'out-explosion' any given Micheal Bay film.  These kinds of films have a certain, cheesy charm and this one is no exception.  People like me or those of you who have actually seen Best of the Best 4 (or at least know that it exists) will probably get some laughs.  The rest of you- probably not.  Oh yeah, it's still not Robocop!
Up next, Forgotten Sequels brings you a film requested by film companies, but not David Cronenberg.  I hope you like that old, familiar scanning sound.  Stay tuned...

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