Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lawnmower Man... from the imagination -- ------- ---- comes the story of a man

A /r/printsf user points out how terrible Lawnmower Man was by pointing out the following:

It was such a departure from the story that Stephen King demanded they remove his name from the abomination - but the studio had already shown trailers which said "From the imagination of Stephen King comes a tale..."
Rather than re-edit the trailers or record a new voiceover, they just muted the narration for the words "of Stephen King," resulting in a weird pause. "From the imagination -- comes a tale..." 
It was kind of awkward.

You'll find some of the original trailers on YouTube, but here's one that demonstrates the awkward pause:


Stephen King usually doesn't seem too upset when Hollywood adapts his works into shitty movies. If he of all people asks you to remove his name from your adaptation you know you've created something so spectacularly shitty you deserve some kind of award—preferably the kind of award that makes a Razzie seem like an honor.

If you're no stranger to high-concept ideas and you've never seen Lawnmower Man, you might be tempted to watch it. I won't stop you even though it is very bad. Virtual reality was like the 90s version of flying cars and personal jet packs, although with products like Oculus Rift on the horizon it looks like we're finally going to get it in a practical and functional way. Even so, Lawnmower Man is a time capsule, not containing history so much as an era's naive idea of what the future would be. For that alone it's worth watching with a group of wise-cracking friends and a ton of sugary snacks.

As a faithful reader of Flux Magazine in the 90's, my friends and I were all convinced that, by the year 2000, we would all be jacked into the matrix, absorbing Lawnmower Man visuals directly into our brains. The boob- and comic-obsessed Flux (which seems to be a distant relative of today's 4Chan) reviewed a pricey pair of stereoscopic goggles and suggested that its adolescent readers order a pair so their moms wouldn't know they were watching The Playboy Channel. Not that the goggles could in anyway unscramble the channel's DRM, but hey, it was wishful thinking that got us all dreaming about the future.

Virtual reality was a dead dream of mine for a very long time; at an Ultimate Electronics I got to try a pair of the goggles reviewed in Flux and found the experience too much like staring at a pair of screens, each about as big as a coin... because that's exactly what the experience was. Now that the dream has been resurrected, something I never would have predicted would happen, I wonder if attempts at augmented reality (such as Google Glass) is today's version of VR. I have to say I'm much more interested in the Oculus than I am Google Glass. For one, the existing prototypes are a lot cheaper and, honestly, a hell of a lot cooler. 

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