Monday, 23 May 2011



Much as I enjoy a good 90s cyborg movie, SF is one area where you really do have to spend some money on your special effects sequences. If you really can't afford to make even a semi-decent looking science-fiction movie, don't make it. Make an affordable drama about three ugly people in an apartment or something instead. Don't stint on your dreams by living them badly. In this instance many of the superimposition effects would be considered below par on the later episodes of Blake's Seven or the McCoy years of Doctor Who (the benchmark for sub-standard effects work). Not that this would have been transformed into some kind of lost classic had they spent a few thousand dollars on the mattes, miniatures and animation - it's still a stiff - but at least they'd have tried.

Digital Man is the result of a top-secret new project to create the ultimate cybernetic soldier (yes, again): beamed into action to take out a bunch of extortionists who've hijacked the launch codes for 250 nuclear missiles, but then apparently goes rogue so a team of tough-talking badass Marine types go into the desert town of Badwater to take the cyborg out. Trouble comes not just from the local civilians - all of them hillbilly imbeciles - but the gradual discovery that some of the troops are cyborgs as well, even though they don't actually know it, as well as a traitor back at the base. Can they stop the Digital Man from transmitting the launch codes from the comms room of a giant underground nuclear plant?

It's rubbish, fairly evidently. All the Marines, cyborg or human, are constantly firing hilariously oversized guns approximately four feet long (yet all too often not actually managing to hit anything), the post-production effects look to have been drawn on the print with a couple of felt-tip pens, and it's frankly impossible to care which are humans and which are not, even when they're going into "am I human" angst every time one of their trusted comrades is revealed as a mere machine. But it's got an interesting trash cast: Matthias Hues as the cyborg, Ed Lauter and Paul Gleason back at HQ, Don Swayze as the most annoying of the idiot townsfolk. That, and the occasionally nifty prosthetic work, isn't anything like enough. Directed by Phillip (A*P*E*X) Roth, not to be confused with the Philip Roth who's just won the Booker Prize or something for writing dirty books. Though that would probably have been more interesting.


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