The Lawnmower Man Director’s Cut Special Edition dual-DVD release – The DVDfever Review

The Lawnmower Man

The Lawnmower Man was a film version of the short story by Stephen King which saw Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) trying to increase the intelligence of simpleton gardener Jobe (Jeff Fahey, right with Brosnan) by using computer science and virtual reality, the latter of which was all the rage in the 80s and early 90s in terms of trying to see what could be achieved by manipulating, for example, a virtual cube on a computer screen by donning gloves that responded to the movement of your hands. This film takes this exponentially onto a much larger scale and paints a nightmarish vision of what it thinks is possible.

The other potential benefit of an advance in computers is being able to teach them and expand their own artificial intelligence, something that movies have played upon many times. By immersing Jobe into the world of virtual reality, including giving him intelligence-enhancing drugs, he develops a brilliant mind to the point where he takes control of the experiments and Dr Angelo loses control of it all.

The end result, for me, someone who doesn’t read books anyway as I just wait for the movie version of anything, was a passable way of spending almost two hours, with some fairly neat SFX, for its time, especially late on in the film when Jobe ends up inside the machine (this was in all the clips doing the rounds at the time and, 18 years on, if you’re unaware of this then this movie clearly isn’t for you), along with a cute babe in the cast in the form of Jenny Wright as love-interest Marnie.

Either way, you know Lawnmower Man wasn’t going to have the best start in life when its author, Stephen King, had his credit removed following a lawsuit.

The bonus with this particular release is that it’s actually the extended director’s cut, running for 2hrs and 20 mins – around half-an-hour longer than the original version. Three examples of altered/additional scenes are as follows:

  • In the theatrical version Dr. Angelo’s wife leaves him, but in the director’s cut she goes out with her friends. Dr. Angelo follows her to her car and she leaves; then he talks to Peter’s mom [Carla Parkett] and they talk about how Peter reminds him of himself at that age.
  • Dr. Angelo asks his wife where Jobe is and she does not respond because she is under Jobe’s control.
  • The agents are going to pick up Jobe and Dr. Angelo when Jobe tells Dr. Angelo “Now you will witness the impossible” and makes Dr. Angelo watch his wife kill an agent and then is killed by the other two while he watches through V.R.



Shot in a ratio of 1.85:1, I was interested to learn that the Director’s Cut was getting a release – shame it wasn’t in Blu-ray, but while I know a price tag of a penny under a tenner won’t perform miracles, I did not expect a print that was in 4:3! What on earth were Universal thinking of? The print is too soft, it looks like it’s smeared in grease and if you’ve got a video of this film, then no doubt that’ll provide a better picture – even if you no longer have a video. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.

There was once a widescreen version available for the Director’s Cut and it was on the NTSC Laserdisc (as confirmed by the Internet Movie Database)

If only Universal had been aware of this, instead of putting out such a misguided release 🙁

Audio-wise, I’m assuming the soundtrack is Dolby Stereo, but it’s fairly muffled and just does nothing to restore the damage done by the impression left on you by the terrible picture. A demo disc, this is not.

The extras are as follows:

  • Trailer (1:57): In 1.85:1 and anamorphic, unlike the film! Oh, the irony.

  • Deleted Scenes (27:49): Twelve scenes in total, the longest being the first one at 9:49 where Dr Angelo tries to protect the chimp from the bad guys. I’d restore scenes eight and nine, where Jobe’s learning more information at a rapid rate, and the final one, the contents of which I won’t divulge here but is certainly worth a look. None of them are named and you have to watch them in sequence as opposed to selecting individually.

  • Storyboard to Film Comparison (1:53): One scene from the virtual reality segment later in the movie.

  • Featurette (4:43): A made-for-TV segment. Not particularly insightful.

  • Animated Montage (4:15): A montage of the CGI content within the movie, but silent, which is odd.

Finally, another of the extras is a second disc containing the sequel, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (cut by 10 seconds to get its 12-certificate, according to the BBFC). However, on playing this, you’ll discover that what was once promising really is the most piss-poor excuse for an extra ever. The film was originally shot in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Panavision, but here it’s presenter in a letterbox, YES, LETTERBOX! 16:9-cropped version, and a godawful print at that. I haven’t seen anything the like of this since the very early days of DVD in the late 90s. In an age of Blu-ray this is, quite frankly Universal, an embarrassment. If I could award minus points for it, I would. Please rectify it by putting out both this, and the original film, in Blu-ray. If you care to stick with it, there are English subtitles and a scarce 12 chapters across its 90-minute running time. However, this disc is best used as a coaster.

The menu is a set of images from the film against a slight virtual-reality background. Subtitles are in English only and there are 18 chapters in total. This just isn’t enough for a film of almost 2½ hours in length. I work on the rule of thumb for approximately one every five minutes, ensuring one apiece for the opening and closing credits.



FILM CONTENT
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
7
1
1
2
OVERALL Just don’t


Detailed specs:

Cert:
Running time: 141 minutes
Year: 1992
Cat no: 8280607
Released: October 2010
Chapters: 18
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Stereo
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Fullscreen: 4:3
Disc Format: 2*DVD9

Director: Brett Leonard
Producer: Gimel Everett
Screenplay: Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett (based on the short story by Stephen King)
Music: Dan Wyman

Cast:
Jobe Smith: Jeff Fahey
Dr. Lawrence Angelo: Pierce Brosnan
Marnie Burke: Jenny Wright
Sebastian Timms: Mark Bringleson
Terry McKeen: Geoffrey Lewis
Father Francis McKeen: Jeremy Slate
The Director: Dean Norris
Caroline Angelo: Colleen Coffey

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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  • Pro Thius

    “and just does nothing to restore the damage done by the impression left on you by the terrible picture.”
    “In the theatrical version Dr. Angelo’s wife leaves him, but in the director’s cut”

    The terrible picture which was 108 minutes was SAID to be the in the theater and Director’s Cut 141 minutes not? I think everybody thinks that INCLUDING Stephen King. The terrible picture DOES leave a bad impression on you if you see it first… and everyone has and therefore sees less value in the 141. So sorry.

    The drama and emotion of the chimp and the prospect of increasing brain skills is really the purpose of the movie first 40. The highlight of the movie was cut out of the said theatrical movie where Caroline is in a trance and instead they said “let’s pull back the curtain”. I almost screamed when I saw this version which is 95% of the versions being sold in 2015. I had bought the Director’s Cut after seeing it in the theater, not knowing there was another version.

    34 minutes extra. The priest is spraying bugs and goes and checks on Jobe and sees the monkey not he beats Jobe for ants in the church which comes later in the short version. Several scenes are lost. Cybo Man?…at the Gas Station and in the restaurant… and especially Jobe asking… “Are you gonna do to me, what you did to the monkey?” ; ) “Well Jobe, yes and no” “Are you gonna shoot me too?”

  • Pro Thius

    I just happened to have released a 15 minute version of the 108 that’s better than the 108…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbzLoF2r3jk

  • Pro Thius

    15 minutes 45 seconds… better ending…

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/oor9wok1q2m22re/LawnMowerMan.mp4?dl=0

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