10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 19, 1996
Nothing new with 'Lawnmower 2'
Disappointing sequel fails to tread on any new turf
By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
When "Lawnmower Man" was re-
leased in 1992, the idea of virtual real-
ity was fairly new and interesting. But
as the concept became more of a reality
than a fantasy, public interest in virtual
reality eventually declined.
And unfortunately, this makes the
current release of"Lawnmower Man 2:
Beyond Cyberspace," even more ques-
Man 2: Beyond
Directed by Farhad Mann;
with Matt Frewer
tionable, considering it would have been
better off cashing in on its popularity
years ago. However, if and probably
when the movie fails, the overall qual-
ity-of the film will be a more probable
cause than the timing.
As the film begins, we are reintro-
duced to the crippled, disabled Jobe
(Matt Frewer), who is reconstructed
mentally by the head of a huge research
corporation. Jobe, once reconstructed,
is assigned to create a micro-chip, that
through virtual reality, will allow him
access to the finances of everyone in the
However, Jobe himself plans on ulti-
mately rendering the outside world ob-
solete and becoming the ruler of the
virtual world. The only people who can
stop Jobe from achieving his goal are
his young friend from "Lawnmower
Man," Peter (Austin O' Brien), and Dr.
Trace Benjamin (Patrick Bergin), the
originator of virtual reality.
To understand this sequel, it is al-
most necessary to have seen the origi-
nal movie. However, the film does not
necessarily resume where its predeces-
sor left off. It also lacks any of the
suspense of the first movie.
The plot itselfis rather muddled, and,
at times, is not very easy to follow.
Furthermore, it is difficult to believe
that Jobe would be left in charge of
creating a chip that was meant to assist
someone else, but could be manipu-
lated to serve his own purposes.
And as to be expected, "Lawnmower
Man 2" relies far too much on dazzling
graphics and not enough on solid writ-
ing. The film's attempt to impress the
viewer with these images and sets is
unsuccessful mainly because they are
not unique. In fact, the first "Lawn
mower Man" had graphics that were
visually more stimulating.
Although virtual reality is the major
technological curiosity involved in the
first movie, the sequel combines it with
the ubiquitous information superhigh-
way. In this case, by connecting onto
every link of the information super-
highway, Jobe envisions controlling
much of the external world. Jobe plans
on forcing people into his virtual reality
system, where he will be in power.
Unfortunately, the film does not offer a
completely satisfactory explanation of
how all of this could transpire.
Matt Frewer("Max Headroom") stars
as Jobe; he is actually impressive as the
disabled learner turned genius. He is
frightening once the viewergets a sense
of his desire for power.
The only man who can stop him is
Benjamin. The problem with Benjamin
is not Bergin, who is adequate, but
rather, the characterization of him as an
aging rebel. Upon first glance, it is hard
to take him seriously. And, for some-
"Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. I have found out the secret to Oprah's new look. It will be mine. She will be mine. Oh, yes. ALL MINE!"
one who at first knows little of the
advances made on his invention, he
figures out far too much too quickly
throughout the movie.
With a little more work, "Lawnmower
Man 2" could have been a pretty good
sequel. But instead, the directors chose
to make the visual stimulus the central
focus of the film. Unfortunately, this
also leads to the addition of several
marginal action scenes. And in the end;
the change in style marks a violation of
the spirit ofthe first "Lawnmower Mare
-those who enjoyed the original are ir
for a huge disappointment.
Continued from Page 8
lating: The la-la vocals, alternately
serene and ominous keyboard tracks
and sine-curve album artwork are all
classic Stereolab, and don't disguise
the fact that Flowchart is a bad Xerox
of a great band.
But it's the fact that they're ripping off
a great band that makes Flowchart fairly
easy to listen to. While epic-length songs
like "Metro Survey" and "Do Oscillators
Have Wings" last longer than the band's
creativity does, some of the shorter songs
like "Hero Wine," "Laser Printer Work-
shop" and "New Radiolab Rip-Off'
(which shows the band has a sense of
humorabout itself) are decent recreations
of Stereolab's enjoyable and experimen-
tal sound. But that's all they'll ever be -
recreations. If you're a Stereolab fan and
have all the albums and B-side collec-
tions, and can't wait until March for the
group's new record, pick up "Multi-per-
sonality Tabletop Vacation" for a laugh.
Otherwise, start at the source for this kind
- Heather Phares
Baby, Test The Sky
Stratotanker's debut full-length al-
bum flies straight from the heart of
indie-rock kitsch. It also flies from that
bizarre place where music is the back-
drop for the starry attitude of a quartet
who are all too happy to shine and
wallow in the funkiness of irrationality.
First, there's the rumbling vocals of
Dicky Dahl. Then there's the organ and
the flute. Is it jazz? Is it the B-52's? Is
it just ludicrously tasty lounge music?
Maybe the best way to describe
Stratotanker's music is to say it would
be exactly the right soundtrack for a day
spent at the amusement park while wear-
ing a polyester pantsuit and not giving
The second track, "Pure Pleasure," is
an instrumental throwback to a time
when an organ was the instrument that
made music cool. "Armour of Gusto"
could be a forgotten Pixies track, espe-
cially with the Frank Black-esque ego-
inspired lyrics like, "I just keep chew-
ing my tongue and wearing my armour
of gusto." The track "Brand New
Heaven" is just plain hilarious with
Dahl speaking over drums and flute
about cold Cappucino.
"Baby, Test The Sky" is an album
that is fun both lyrically and musically.
How can you not respect a band who
dares to title a song "Woolly Lemur"?
Stratotanker's jazz tempo sound is both
respectable and off-the-wall enough to
make you take a serious listen. The
unique sound of this New York City
quartet is completely refreshing in a
time when musical experimentation and
mock fashion attitude is all too rare.
- Shannon O'Neill
In recent years, the soundtracks for
films have evolved from film scores to
corporate scores - score one for the
lucky film (and record label) with a hit
soundtrack. Sometimes this marketing
ploy has brought obscure or
underappreciated performers into the
mainstream, such as Lisa Loeb ("Real-
ity Bites") and Lou Barlow's Folk Im-
plosion ("Kids"), and at times alterna-
tive music-based soundtracks have out-
stripped the sales and success of the
movies from which they were spawned
Wild, crazy punk-rockers the Gin Blossoms smoke candy cigarettes when MomMA
isn't looking. Heyl Isn't the guy on the far right from Hootle and the Blowfish?
1:30 4:30 7:00 9:15
Back by popular demand!!!
( The Postman )
7:00 pm only
("Reality Bites" again).
The "Empire Records" soundtrack
both follows and breaks the traditional
pattern of hip movie soundtracks. The
movie "Empire Records" is mysteri-
ously and conspicuously absent from
theatrical release, perhaps because it
entered and exited theaters in a flash, or
perhaps because its creators are fixing
whatever ails it. Yet even without the
help of Liv Tyler and her little plastic
record shop-workin', head-shavin' car-
digan wearin' pals, the album has scored
impressive sales (at least more impres-
sive than its movie has) and sports an
impressive roster of commercially-vi-
able alternative acts, as well as a few
1:30 Saturday & Sunday Only : 11:30 Fri and Sat Only
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ALL ROC OPISOUL CD's
One of these surprises is the Martinis
an as-yet-unsigned group that includes
two members of one of the best bands of
the last decade, the Pixies, in its fold
Drummer David Lovering and guitarist
Joey Santiago, along with Santiago's wife
Linda, turn in one of the finest songs or
the album, "Free." Linda Santiago's voice
sounds like another one of the Pixie*
Kim Deal (whom you may know bettei
from the Breeders and the Amps). Thiw'
gentle but soaring tune, laced witF
Santiago's trademark loopy guitar lines
focused by Lovering's tight drumming
and embellished with Linda Santiago's
warm, inviting voice, isn't just filledwith
potential. Itscreams,"SIGN THIS BAND
Other little-known bands include(
on the "Empire Records" soundtra<*
are Drill, whose shrill, hypnotic "Wha
You Are" recalls Siouxsie and theBan.
shees and Throwing Muses, and the
unimpressive hippie-rock of Coyote
As far as the big hitters go, the Gir
Blossoms, Cranberries, Toad the Wer
Sprocket and Better Than Ezra each dc
what makes them sell so many records.
Middle-size artists like Edwyn Collin:
and the Innocence Mission both turn
catchy, more-than-respectable son.
with the slinky, infectious "A Girl Likc
You," and the dreamy "Bright as Yel
Aside from the Martinis, the bigges
surprise of "Empire Records: Th
Soundtrack" is that there's barely i
movie to go along with it. But unlik
that rarely-seen piece of celluloid, th
soundtrack is not a total stinkeroo.
- Heather Phar.
I or hig her
Do~iwn S anv - Awalitt, ia~t#
Hear it on our listening station. H .UR.RY SALE ENDS THURSDAY, JANUARY 25th
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Continued from Page 8
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The University of Michigan
School of Music
Monday, January 22
Rehearsal of Carmina Burana
Betty Pease Studio Theatre, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, January 24
Beethoven's Trios for Piano, Clarinet and Cello
Erling Blondal Bengtsson, cello
Anton Nel, piano
Fred Onci_ crine
wonderful as the sympathetic, loviig
Mack McCann who supports his' Wife
- even when she starts getting just,.
little bit too psycho. At first, we'a'ri-
uncertain of his emotions concernint
the death of his stepdaughter. But
hour into the movie, his feelings and hi
stability shine through. We are ifft
pressed by the naturalness with wh
he portrays his character.
Kiefer Sutherland also gives a fin
performance as Robert Doob, the deliv
cry man from hell. He salivates, scowl
and sounds just like any psychopathi"
a made-for-TV movie. And Sutherli
makes his audience think of hitW :
actly as they are supposed to: Boy, th
man is one sick puppy.
Although convinced by these tw
characters, we cannot form such a soli
opinion about Sally Field's pef
mance. And it's not even Field's faul
We've simply seen her transfornaticq
Just out...John Woo's A BETTER TOMORROW $10.99