Sunday, October 19, 2008

Digital Man (1995)

Well, here's one for the annals. Despite a myriad of semi-recognizable faces, including the always gruff and graceful Adam Baldwin (Firefly), the less popular although always classy Don Swayze (yes, of those Swayzes) and a couple of old dudes who both managed to end up in Not Another Teen Movie (yikes!), poor Digital Man remains well below the reputable-reel obscurity meter. Imdb user comments treat it pretty well with four-fifths of the comments being extremely positive. Then again, there are only 5 comments, and absolutely no useful accompanying data, so I guess we can't exactly call this an underground cult feature. It's pretty good though, if I do say so myself. The sets are awesome and well-lit. The cyborgs ooze and spark appropriately. Things explode constantly, and you can only barely see the edit lines around the CGI space ships. While the dialogue is mostly useless (why does he keep calling that black dude 'doo-rag?' is that offensive to anyone else?) and the soldiers mostly hairless, the hicks give it a more home-town feel with their shotguns, poor grammar and altogether rowdy personas. The amount of gayface, however, is totally unacceptable. We get some titties, always a plus, as well all the bare, greasy, overly muscular chest that one person can deal with. The guns are ridiculous, and look like they were made from spare auto parts, but at least they were constructed. You have to give props (pun intended) to films that actually go about constructing what they need to make a formidable sci-fi feature. And the CGI that is used is mostly tasteful, with a few Tron-like graphics, some virtual ninjas and a few over-the-top Planetary Traveler sequences. Other movies I would cite when describing this nineties ninny are Tremors, Cyborg, Space Truckers, Robocop, Starship Troopers and just a touch of the Ghostbusters (it's all in the lasers). And let's face it, those are awesome films. Written and directed by Phillip J. Roth, a "cyberpunk schlockmeister" and presider over a long history of obscure sci-fi action, Digital Man even works in a few philosophical themes including AI influence and use in society, self-awareness and the mind-set of cyborgs, and still manages to throw in a little human-superiority-over-machines. Supercool. And, I found the trailer.

Final Judgement: "The singularity is near and Digital Man explores the homoerotic consequences; mmm, tasty!"

For a nerdily fantastic guide to awful/awesome sci-fi, check out this site.

1 comment:

Tesla said...

Update, 10 years later. This is an amazing experience, like finding some love letter you wrote in high school. Some of the things I wrote 10 years ago (it's mind-blowing that it was that long ago...) definitely hold true. "gayface"? How in the world did I ever think that was appropriate?

Anyway, I have a few more things to say, a decade later, after re-watching this film.

Intrigue, espionage, existentialism. Nuclear war, cyborgs, porn, white trash, Badwater, virtual reality. This movie is ultimately all about who has the bigger crotch rocket, with definite moments of a hick version of The Warriors - a bunch of cowboys led by a sassy lady with a shotgun (ie Oscar Nominee Susan Tyrell, "bizarre, gloriously one-of-a-kind Hollywood gypsy and self-affirmed outcast") vs. the 21st century cyborg soldiers. Don't give up on it in the first 20 minutes, even though it's tempting. Once Swayze shows up, it really picks up pace. Of course the Adam and Eve white male-female duo are the only ones to survive. And the only humans to boot. A perfect love story.

TAGLINE: Built for war. Programmed to win. Now he's online...and out of control