Eyeborgs: DVD Review

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click to purchase
It may seem to have “ScFy Channel” written all over it, but EYEBORGS turns out to be a well-acted film with an intelligent story and a topical message.

When I sat down to watch EYEBORGS, I was expecting nothing more than a SyFy Channel-level flick with crappy f/x, a silly one-note story, and wooden characters. And why wouldn’t I expect that? The movie is about surveillance cameras, originally designed to protect us, attacking and killing people – it has “SyFy” written all over it. I was in fact wondering why this hadn’t aired on that channel. But after watching for only 10 minutes, I  realized that EYEBORGS is well-acted with an intelligent story that has a very topical message. In short, I was pleasantly surprised.

We’re told that after another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the government initiated a wide-reaching and intense surveillance program by which every camera in the U.S. is linked to a single network called O.D.I.N (Optical Defense Intelligence Network). In other words, the U.S. government has created Big Brother – no, not that shitty reality show but the Orwellian society in which everyone is being watched at every point of the day in every thing they do. It’s the United States of Fascist America!! The always good Adrian Paul (from the HIGHLANDER TV show) plays R.J. Reynolds, an agent for Homeland Security. Along with a reporter (played by Megan Blake) and Jarett (Luke Eberl), the nephew of the President, they become entangled in a plot to assassinate President Hewes (Mark Joy). It seems someone has hacked into the O.D.I.N system and is programming the surveillance cameras (some are small; others look like huge spiders) to kill people who are getting too close to the truth. I can’t go too much more into the story without giving away some spoilers, but I can tell you that nothing is as it seems in this surprisingly layered story. Think CHOPPING MALL with elements of RUNAWAY with a tiny sprinkle of THE TERMINATOR and you come close to EYEBORGS!

Danny  Trejo
Danny Trejo

EYEBORGS is at times hindered by some made-for-TV-level acting and action, but you’ll overlook this as you find yourself getting sucked into the plot. Genre favorite Danny Trejo pops up as G-Man, the owner of a guitar shop who is also part of an underground resistance fighting the ever-increasing loss of freedom. Or is he? He may be involved in the plot to kill the president – or he might just be a patsy. Writers Fran and Richard Clabaugh (Richard also directed) do a fantastic job of making you think you have everything figured out – and then completely twisting the plot in a different direction. And they do this two to three times. The “twists” are inherently logical to the overall story and don’t feel at all forced.

EYEBORGS features some pretty good visual effects. The surveillance robots range from cute-looking little mobile cameras straight out of a Disney flick to some bigger, intimidating Volkswagen-sized spider-looking cameras that have somehow been fitted with weapons. Overall, the CGI is pretty good and the scenes with the humans and robots interacting are well-done.

There’s not much by way of extras on the EYEBORGS DVD. We get six deleted scenes, the trailer, and a “Behind the Scenes” feature which includes a “Making of the Eyeborgs,” a blooper reel, and “How to Make a Robot in Three Minutes.”

EYEBORGS is not perfect, but it will keep you involved – and guessing – until the final scenes. The strength of the film is definitely the story. We get a solid movie with a very timely message that asks, “How much of our freedom are we willing to sacrifice in order to feel safe?” But this isn’t some preachy sci-fi flick that’s all talk. There’s a boatload of action here; some of it effective, some of it that misses the mark. But the final battle between the humans and robots is exciting and has you cheering the “good guys” on. The ending is also refreshing: We get a pretty dark and depressing conclusion in which things go from bad to worse for humanity. Good stuff; I recommend this one.

Eyeborgs (2009) robot

EYEBORGS (2009; released on video July 6, 2010). Directed by Richard Clabaugh. Written by Fran CLabaugh & Richard Clabaugh. Cast: Adrian Paul, Megal Blake, Luke Eberl, Dany Trejo, Tim Bell, James Marshall Case, Dale Girard, Julie Horner, Mark Joy, Huyen Thi.

Eyeborgs (2009) victim


Laserblast July 6: Jason and the Argonauts on Blu-ray, Dr. Who, Eyeborgs

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click to purchase

Tuesday, July 6 sees no new theatrical horror, fantasy, or science fiction titles making their home video debut; fortunately, that is no reason for fans of cinefantastique to despair: the 1963 classic JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, with stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen, is arriving on a brand new Blu-ray disc that improves on the picture and sound quality of the previous DVD release. Not only that, the Blu-ray is loaded with no bonus features, including an audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen.
JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS is a sort of precursor to CLASH OF THE TITANS (1980) – both films are based on Greek mythology – but JASON is the better effort, despite the larger’s bigger budget and cast of stars. The writing, directing, and acting are reasonably strong, creating a fairly serious work, and Harryhausen offers up some of his most imaginative monsters, including a giant walking statue, a multi-headed Hydra, and the famous skeleton battle, which outdoes the earlier skeleton duel in THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. Sony’s 1998 DVD featured a full screen and a widescreen transfer (one on each side of the disc), but supplemental material was limited to a brief interview with Harryhausen, conducted by director John Landis. The new Blu-ray, also from Sony, features a new transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.66, for a sort of compromised widescreen look. (For technical reasons, Harryhausen preferred to shoot in standard format; to get a widescreen transfer requires cropping the top and/or bottom of the image.) The disc, which is region free, features DTS audio and Dolby Surround. The old Landis-Harryhausen interview is ported over. Additionally, there are these new bonus features:

  • Commentary with Harryhausena nd historian Tim Dalton
  • Commentary with Peter Jackson and William Randall Cook
  • Skeleton fight storyboards
  • Harryhausen legacy featurette
  • Harryhausen Chronicles feature narrated by Leonard Nimoy
  • John Landis interview with Harryhausen (from DVD)

Fans of the classic British television series DOCTOR WHO will be pleased to see several old episodes from the 1960s and ’70s released on DVD this week:

  • THE TIME MONSTER with John Pertwee
  • THE SPACE MUSEUM with William Hartnell

EYEBORGS makes a direct-to-video debut on DVD and Blu-ray. This flick is from the director of PYTHON, the 2000 stinker starring Robert Englund, but advance word suggests that this new film is quite an improvement.
GOD OF VAMPIRES is another DTV title making its debut. This American film follows a hit man contracted to take out a Chinese crime lord – who turns out to be a vampire.
GAMERA VS. BARUGON, the second film starring the giant flying fire-breathing turtle, arrives on DVD. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 did a good job on this one, back in the 1990s. After that, it’s hard to imagine watching the film without Joel and the ‘bots.
Fans of Japanese gore films can rejoice in the release of the ULTIMATE MACHINE GIRL Collectors Tin, a three-piece set dedicated to the low-budget revenge flick, about a girl who loses her arm when she is brutally attacked – then replaces it with a machine gone and goes after her attackers. At the very least, it’s no more ridiculous – and probably a good deal less so – than PLANET TERROR.
If you’re too cheap to shell out the dough for a single title, here are some bargains for you: a Blu-ray two-pack of  PRACTICAL MAGIC and WITCHES OF EASTWICK and another Blu-ray two-pack of DR. GIGGLES and OTIS.
If that’s not enough value for your money, there are two DVD box sets coming out that offer 25 titles a piece – although, in spite of th word “classic” being used in both cases, quantity rather than quality is what’s really selling.
25 SCI FI CLASSICS includes no classic titles that I can recognize, but there are a few cult items (Roger Corman’s THE WASP WOMAN) and some star names that might just peak your interest (Charles Bronson in ONE STEP BEYOND, Peter Graves in KILLERS FROM SPACE, the latter of which was derided in an episode of THE FILM CREW).
25 HORROR CLASSICS is also short on true classics, although this set at least include WHITE ZOMBIE (with Bela Lugosi), which is a great, if slightly creaky, black-and-white horror from 1932. Also included are ICE FROM SPACE, starring Paul Newman (a TV-production, I believe) and Lon Chaney in FRANKENSTEIN. (This is presumably the notorious live television production, in which a drunken Chaney believed he was doing a rehearsal.)