Eyeborgs (US - BD RA)
Gabe watches a silly STV Sci-Fi epic because he likes its silly title concept...
First things first – prospective viewers be warned: the cover art on this Blu-ray is not representative of the tone of the film contained within. Eyeborgs is not a post-apocalyptic movie, it’s a pre-apocalyptic movie that acts like an average Philip K. Dick adaptation. Unfortunately Eyeborgs is not an STV answer to Blade Runner, Total Recall or Minority Report, its more of a low rent version of Paycheck, complete with a confusing, but slick action scenes, and a twist ending you’ll probably see coming a mile away. The basic story concerns a somewhat dystopian future where post-Patriot Act laws have grown so out of control that robotic roaming cameras, called ‘Eyeborgs’, roam the streets shooting incriminating footage of normal American citizens. The Eyeborg footage is fed directly to a network called the ODIN system (for Optical Defense Intelligence Network), where police can use it for evidence. Problems arise when the Eyeborgs themselves start attacking people, creating speculation of illegal government interference. These old fashion sci-fi elements are usually reasonably entertaining, and had this actually been based on a story written in an era when these stories weren’t common place clichés it probably would’ve been easier to be more forgiving of other obvious shortcomings.
However, the real problem here isn’t the lack of ideas, or even the terrible dialogue, which is pulled off relatively harmlessly by the relatively capable cast, it’s the listless minutes that pass without anything really happening. Minus ideas or plot one would expect a few more Eyeborg-centric action set pieces, because here’s the thing – the Eyeborgs themselves are actually very charming little digital effects. I can’t say they blend very realistically into their surroundings, but the design and animation is better than expected. Eyeborgs also scores points for having a sense of humour, even if it isn’t all that funny. The comedic hands are heavy ones, from the hokey dialogue, to the hammy political statements, but occasionally nuggets of Paul Verhoven/Edward Neumeier-like satire escape. The single best scene in the movie sees former Highlander TV star Adrian Paul divulging generally boring exposition at the only place the Eyeborgs aren’t allowed to listen in – an ice cream store/bikini car wash. Other low-budget sci-fi movies with a lot of exposition to cover might want to take notice.
Director Richard Clabaugh comes from STV horror cinematography, which would make one assume Eyeborgs would, at the very least, be a good looking piece of junk. The film looks better than its budget, almost like a real movie, but the arbitrarily wiggling camera is enough to drive anyone insane. Clabaugh is likely trying to ape Paul Greengrass’ Bourne look, but the look here constantly draws attention to itself. Clabaugh has a pretty solid sense of action, and sets up his geography pretty effectively, but the drunken cinematography robs most of these scenes of any real kinetic momentum. The tight, 2.35:1 framing magnifies the effect. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why so many filmmakers think it’s a good idea to use the letterbox frame to capture rough, largely close-up material. Sure, it’s been utilized effectively in this manner on some occasions, but for the most part it looks amateurish, and makes me assume the filmmakers picked the wider option because they thought it looked more impressive, rather than thinking out the logistics, or developing artistic intent.
Eyeborgs is a low budget feature, no mistake, but this 1080p, 2.35:1 Blu-ray presentation is relatively impressive overall. Imdb.com lists the film as having been filmed on 35mm, but most of the film’s look is very digital. Everything is smooth, including the light grain, with a few night time, low light exceptions, which feature plenty of artificial grain meant to blend the digital elements (it doesn’t really work). The look is very cold, with a slightly Matrix inspired green tint. Everything appears to have been lit with the largest fluorescent lights in the world, which creates extra bright whites and extra deep blacks, but soft in-betweens, so not a lot in the way of contrasting elements. This lack of contrast makes for a less interesting high definition transfer, even if concrete complaints are few and far between. The film is pretty colourful overall, with occasional poppy highlight elements, but the fluorescent look bleaches out the more vibrant hues, and the green tinting doesn’t really help. As stated in the review, the 2.35:1 framing is all wrong for most of the material, but specs state it is the intended shape.
Eyeborgs features a very aggressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which places extra emphasis on the .1 part of the equation. The LFE throbs with the music, vibrates any time an Eyeborg moves, and pumps with every gunshot. Basic effects and dialogue are occasionally lost in the shuffle of overwhelming additional elements, and among even some of the apparently set-recorded elements (one outdoor set scene is overwhelmed by a fountain in the background). The action scenes feature some decent directional elements, especially the climactic shoot-out, and the many HUD shots feature effective stereo movement. There is a really loud concert scene early in the film, loud enough to send me scrambling for the remote to turn the system down, but the rest of the music is actually pretty low on the track, excepting that oddly aggressive LFE presence.
The extras start with four behind the scenes featurettes. ‘Making Eyeborgs’ (9:00, HD) is a basic EPK discussion with the filmmakers and stars about the film, which treats the material like state of the art political comment. ‘Stunts’ (8:00, HD), unsurprisingly enough, covers the process of filming stunts, which included hiring a stunt man as a major character. Funnily enough, he’s probably the best actor in the film. ‘Visual Effects’ (9:10, HD) covers the film’s excessive digital effects, including plenty of before and after footage, and discussion concerning the difficulty of editing around unfinished effects. ‘How to Make a Robot in 3 Minutes’ (3:30, HD) finishes out the featurettes, and is a semi-comedic look at the process of designing, modeling, compositing, texturing and animating the CG robots. Next up are six deleted/extended scenes (8:00, HD), including a particular gruesome arm tearing, and a bunch of scenes featuring Megan Blake, who is the worst actress, and lamest character in the film. Things are completed with a blooper reel (2:50, HD), and a trailer.
It could be a lot worse, but at the same time [i]Eyeborgs[i] doesn’t quite live up to its ingeniously goofy title and concept. The film is rarely expressly bad, but fails to be more than moderately entertaining even at its best. The special effects are pretty impressive for type, and the occasional joke elicits a genuine laugh. The Blu-ray release isn’t particularly impressive on any level, but its mostly the content that dictates the shortcomings, not the disc’s compression. Extras are brief, but fill in a few of our behind the scenes questions. I recommend a rental for B-movie enthusiasts and Adrian Paul fans.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 6th July 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Extras: Making Eyeborgs, Stunts, Special Effects, How to Make a Robot in 3 Minutes, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Richard Clabaugh
Cast: Adrian Paul, Danny Trejo
Genre: Action and Sci-Fi
Length: 109 minutes
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