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Produced by the Weinsteins (hey, why didn’t this flick win any Oscars?) and staring Starring Dylan McDermott and Stacey Travis, Hardware tells the story of a Mark 13 cyborg skull that gets given as a gift to a  girlfriend and after self assembling itself goes on a rampage. Even with a 1990 release date, how super 80s is that?!

 Hardware: 25th Anniversary Edition
My memories of Hardware are vague. Very much cashing in on The Terminator, its arrival on rental video was promoted as a big deal back in the early 90s, with its striking American flag robot skull imagery alo9ngside its cool title and I remember me and a friend waiting quite excitingly to see it.

Upon seeing it that first time and even now rewatching it 25 years later I like a lot of the ideas on show here. The beaten down future feels lived in in a Bladerunner meets Mad Max sort of way and the odd mix of technology and sand covered beaten down landscapes gives the film a sense of scope and a small view at a much larger world and history.

The film's underlining love of rock music (even featuring Iggy Pop and Lemmy in the film) gives the film a chaotic boldness which in turn gives it a soul of its own but in amongst all this the low budget limitations of the film never really seems to get hidden. Some of the dialogue here feels as if those involved aren’t ever quite committed to the material. Lines can sometimes feel a little too cool to sound realistically delivered and the brooding mood sometimes feels cliché rather than natural. I mean, compare everyone in this flick’s dialogue to Michael Biehns pretty wild dialogue in Cameron’s Terminator and there’s a huge divide in believability. You believe everything Kyle Reese tells you in The Terminator but Hardware feels a little more like actors playing roles as opposed to characters living in the crumbling future.

 Hardware: 25th Anniversary Edition
25 years later Hardware still feels like fans of the sci-fi genre playing in a toybox with no real sense of direction. It combines elements of a lot of sci-fi that came before it and does a pretty good job at making all that its own even if the whole does'nt feel all that complete. It’s a little like a teenager's approach to the post apocalyptic future, with a lot of forced cool in its characters and with a little too much focus on the hot red head in the film and the sexual desires towards her. I mean the scenes with the central couple being spied on while they get it on has always felt that fraction overdone when lined up against the rest of the film but the robot drill dick is it totally a step too far in what is already a super awkward looking robot design, that's lucky it has that pretty cool skull design because its body is a mess.  

Hardware remains a fun, sometimes great idea for a sci-fi movie that establishes a bleak future wonderfully but the actual plot has always kept me at arm’s length and that feeling hasn't changed a couple of decades on.

 Hardware: 25th Anniversary Edition

Video


Grubby, speckled opening credits aside Hardware begins with a pretty good looking image. Edges and detail are nice and sharp and the black silhouetted figure walking through the bright red dessert looks pretty damn fantastic with elements of his costume showing in abstract but impressive ways that similar aged and cult status releases do not always deliver.

As we venture out of the showy opener the presentation gets noticeably grainier (largely down to all the smoke in scenes) and the dirt and damage to the print doesn’t really subside. The image is still pretty good on the detail front but edges are much less striking, what with the dusty, beaten down look to the film.

The films HD overhaul ticks all the right boxes, despite the print damage. Colours seem spot on throughout, even when they are purposely boosted.  Darker scenes hold up with colours sitting comfortably side by side with deep black shadows and the boosts in the light sourcing really brings the film to life at times. This Hardware release settles in to being a great HD overhaul for its age though compared to its VHS origins and my memory of the last time I saw it all those years ago, great is actually closer to miraculous at times.

 Hardware: 25th Anniversary Edition

Audio


The rather small sounding track has plenty of crisp sound effects, such as drills and saws and also a thumping rock soundtrack but it’s never really enough to show off. Dialogue is clear but often a little muffled sounding but that’s due to the age of the recording more than anything.

The HD boost tends to come with power in the small things like sound effects or echoes to voices and it sometimes makes the film sound wider than it feels it should. Overall this track does well with its source. There’s some good layered moments with score and elements intermixing with sound effects. Dialogue sometimes sounds hollow but it’s always clear and really this Blu-ray release does well at modernising Hardware’s audio mix even if it’s bigger moments often sound more tinny and brash than punchy.

 Hardware: 25th Anniversary Edition

Extras


This is the 25th Anniversary and in other regions there’s a whole selection of extra features to watch for Hardware, here in the UK, we get… well, we get nothing. Absolutely barebones. Unless you count the two limited edition art cards included in the box, which I really don’t.

 Hardware: 25th Anniversary Edition

Overall


I don’t know much about Hardware’s history beyond its rental release in my youth and even then it’s really only its cover art that stuck with me as I never returned to the film until now. After this rewatch, it’s an impressive, though largely silly bit of sci-fi that sets up a world that it never has the opportunity (or budget) to play in really. The disc itself has a great looking transfer, an okay sounding audio track and a no-show on the extras front. This anniversary celebration feels more like a passing reminder the film exists as opposed to a party, especially when there’s extras on other editions around the world that celebrate the film.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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