Friday, March 18, 2011

Mechanical Terror Week: Hologram Man

Out of all the films, you chose to rip off this one?  Today's film is a rare bit of '90s action/sci-fi known as Hologram Man.  Basically, a guy escapes from a form of  futuristic prison and takes on a new, super-powerful body.  Only a cop from his past- the guy who put him away originally- can stop him.  Does that sound familiar?  It's freaking Demolition Man!  Hell, there are practicallly the same amount of letters in the title to boot.  To be fair, they changed a little bit (the cop was not in Cryo-Prison as well), but it's still a rip-off.  Demolition Man was a 1993 vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, whereas this one stars...nobody famous.  It has some characters like John Amos in it, but they barely play a part.  The film does have "Tiny" Lister in it, so I can't be too mad at it.  Put out your mirrors before the arrival of... 
The film begins with two cops being assigned to protect the Mayor.  One of them (Amos) does not play by the rules and regulations, while his partner (the film's actual lead) is 'by-the-book.'  Unfortunately, the Mayor is being targeted by a crazed, terrorist organization lead by the film's villain.  He sets up a very elaborate trap that involves his men dressed up like bums, targeted shooting of other cars in the line (hello, A Clear and Present Danger!) and himself driving a hijacked bus.  In the shoot-out, Amos reveals his secret weapon- a .45 that fires explosive rounds!  You use that to take out burglars and drug dealers?!?  Unfortunately, things turns bad & both Amos and The Mayor get shot.  Our hero beats up the villain, however, and he's locked up in prison.  He's sentenced to Rehabilitation (sadly, not the one from Idiocracy) and has his spirit placed in a computer.  No, they don't really explain the science of this.  In a key plot point, our hero is dating the daughter of the guy running the holo-prison and she also works there.  The other worker there is a sarcastic man played by William Sanderson, who is most famous for his role as 'Larry' on Newhart.  For those of you who have sadly-missed the show, Larry is a guy who works in the Woods with his two mute brothers Daryll and Daryll.  In other words, how the hell did he become a computer hacker?!?  He's working for the bad guy and has a devious plan in mind...
Thanks to some computer trickery by 'Larry,' the gang leader has his spirit kept in the hologram body and it's filled with so much energy that it can exist on its own.  This apparently makes him invulnerable, as bullets and projecticles go through him like, well, a hologram.  He can shoot energy from his body, however, and escapes via the internet of sorts.  I should also mention that there's a five-minute shoot-up scene placed before here.  It does three things: shows that our hero is not playing by the rules anymore (which some dialog already told us), it pads out the run-time and it ups the film's body count to about 50 or 60 people!  Our hero is called before the head of the California Corporation, a massive conglomerate corporation that controls, well, California.  Were you expecting real creativity from a film called Hologram Man?  The Corporation is all about catching the guy, as he represents an Anarchistic group and doesn't care about who dies in the process.  To save on the film's budget, the villain gets a molding of plastic 'skin' that allows him to blend in.  It also allows him to disguise himself as other people, which is a trick he uses all of once.  Reunited with his gang (which includes 'Tiny' Lister as '8-Ball'), the guy starts attacking the system and just generally killing lots of people.  That will show the people, exist.  There's also a sub-plot involving him capturing a guy who works for the Board of the California Corporation, but it also goes nowhere.  Hurray!
Repeated attempts to step the evil villain fail and more people die, including our hero's female partner.  Ah yes, the character so important that I didn't feel like mentioning her until now!  You will be missed- honest.  In a big scene, our hero is beaten up by the villain again as the latter tries to retrieve his human body.  Our hero fills it full of holes, so the guy kills his girlfriend's dad.  The man is wounded, so his girlfriend recreates the effect from before and makes him a Hologram Man too.  They celebrate this by having off-camera sex.  No, really.  Our hero tells off the head of the California Corporation and vows to take down the villain for his own reasons.  He takes out a bunch of them, but gets his fake skin burned off.  This leads to the ultimate showdown of...two hologram men in all-white bodysuits.  We've been building up for 90 minutes to this, huh?  The fight is just silly and our hero ends up turning the villain into a tiny hologram and locking him away.  In the closing moments, he kills the head of the California Corporation in his limo, letting fate decide the city's future.  The End.
I wish that this was only a hologram!  The plot of this movie is both silly and cliche.  It's not quite a 'Mad Libs plot,' but it is chock full of the things we saw all the time in the '80s and '90s.  Romance story- check.  Cop who changes his ways for the worse and eventually learns to change them back- check.  The coolest actor in the film- John Amos- is a tiny cameo- big check!  Nothing in this film really stands out in a major way.  There is a lot of death- this movie is about as deadly as a Robocop film- but none of it has any substance to it.  It's just death for the sake of death.  It's called an 'emotional investment'- look it up!  To the film's credit, most of the effects hold up pretty well.  I was expecting the hologram effects to look worse, quite honestly.  They're still not good, but they work well enough for the film.  The film is loud and full of explosions, so I was never really bored.  I just kind of wish that the whole thing was not so generic.  It is a bit better than any film called Hologram Man has the right to be though.  Take that statement for what you will.
Next up, we end Mechanical Terror Week with a look at a 2008 rip-off of another '90s action film.  Instead of Van Damme, we get a UFC fighter who looks like Pinnocchio.  Stay tuned...

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