Friday, February 8, 2013

Hardware (1990) Review:

For year 1990, comic books were just starting to make themselves applicable to the big screen. Superman (1978) initiated and proved that comic book films could be made, but they really didn't start to come off the conveyor belt until the beginning of the late 80s. To narrow the focus, I was more amazed at the fact that this film was actually the first movie to adapt a story from the 2000 A.D. comic book along with Judge Dredd (1995) and recently Dredd 3D (2012) films.

Discovering that, had peaked my interest because Judge Dredd is an awesome character, but it's always cool to see other stories from the same comic be adapted into a movie. Funny as it is, not only are Dredd and this story published by the same comic, but they also exist in the same universe!

The head of the M.A.R.K. 13
Sadly, after watching the movie, I was not happy with the final product for various reasons. There were some good points but overall, the whole visual aspect of the picture was rather lazy. Hardware is the comic strip adaptation of the short story "Shok!", where a soldier buys a robotic head, which belonged to a "Shok" trooper robot for his girlfriend. What they both don't realize, is that this robot hasn't been deactivated, it's just dormant. Soon, the robot rebuilds itself and starts to kill anything that stands in its way.

Storywise, it's not a bad idea, if it can be pulled off right, which is one of the good things about this adaptation. Richard Stanley's direction was proper in letting it come as close it would come to portraying the world of Judge Dredd. It truly felt like the wasteland that belonged outside Mega City One. Also the gore, although very brief, was enjoyable and the way the puppeteers animated the "Shok Trooper", now called the M.A.R.K. 13 in this film, was well executed. The head of the M.A.R.K. 13 is the most iconic thing about the film.

The futuristic devices that were used throughout the film were cool to listen and look at as well. The music composed by Simon Boswell was alright. It had some science-fiction tones and incorporated some western like themes involving a guitar. However, when it came to the important scenes, it seemed as though Boswell, couldn't figure out how to give the music a sense of tension.

Unfortunately, that's about as much as I found entertaining about this sci-fi horror film. Everything else just didn't work; beginning with the main focus: the characters. By the end of the film, I could not believe how uninteresting the main characters had become. I thought, even for lesser-known actors, they still can give a memorable performance. But I didn't see that here. The soldier who brings the robot head home, Moses Baxter, played by Dylan McDermott isn't much of an emotional person. Even more uninteresting is his wacked out friend named Shades, played by John Lynch. The role of Shades was actually fairly okay until the last half of the film where he went into a totally freaked out mode.

I didn't even find Stacey Travis' role as Baxter's girlfriend appealing. Usually as the lead female, actresses have the opportunity to make their role very entertaining, but here Travis just has bland dialog mixed in with multiple U-turns around the same apartment room trying to flee from the M.A.R.K. 13; dull. Along with being director, Richard Stanley as a screenwriter could have had her fight the robot more than just one or two times. Maybe a few clever traps (not distractions) here and there to throw the robot off course? Yes, the rest of the cast did contain various lead singers from rock bands but they're really just cameos. Nothing truly special.

The red-orange coloring I've been talking about.....X_X
Another thing I found quite tiresome and obnoxious was the lighting of the whole movie. Originally, it had started out with a beaming red-orange sun that gave an accurate feel for what the hot weather was like in this desolate wasteland setting. But as the movie relocates itself to the Baxter apartment, the lighting does not change. The entire picture is still red-orange; not just the background. EVERYTHING is red-orange. There are only a few scenes where normal lighting comes into play and the audience will actually be able to see some color contrast. Besides, that, it was a very frustrating experience to see everything as one color. Black and white would've been more enjoyable than red-orange.

Finally, there were also some scenes that just didn't seem to make any sense. Some scenes involved bright flashing blue lights, while others contained neon spiral-like designs that made me feel like the a part of the film crew had no idea of what this movie was about and put it in for filler. Even some of the character's actions looked out of place. For example, at one point McDermott made his role look like he didn't know how to hold or shoot a shotgun. Seriously folks? I had high expectations for a low budget film that was supposed to be fairly entertaining but I was disappointed instead.

As the first 2000 A.D. comic adaptation to hit theatres, Hardware has good violence and special effects. But that's it. Its characters are dull, some scenes don't connect to the story and the lighting is frustrating.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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