(director/writer: Brett Leonard; screenwriter: short story by Stephen King/Gimel Everett; cinematographer: Russell Carpenter; editor: Alan Baumgarten; music: Dan Wyman; cast: Jeff Fahey (Jobe Smith), Pierce Brosnan (Dr. Lawrence Angelo), Mark Bringleson (Sebastian Timms), Geoffrey Lewis F (Terry McKeen), Austin O’Brien (Peter), John Laughlin (Jake), Jenny Wright (Marnie Burke), Jeremy Slate (Father McKeen), Dean Norris (Director), Collen Coffey(Mrs, Angelo); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Gimel Everett; New Line Cinema; 1992-UK/USA)

Its greatest assets are its dazzling video game special effects.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A drab but at times entertaining sci-fi film loosely based on the 1975 12-page short story The Lawnmower Man by Stephen King, that appeared in his short story collection of 1978 called Night Shift. Its greatest assets are its dazzling video game special effects, which simulate Virtual Reality. There’s animation sequences, with one really good one showing a sex fantasy/nightmare.

It was the first film about “virtual reality” technology. Director Brett Leonard (“Hidaway”/”Feed”) offers a mostly heavy-handed presentation of this odd version of the mad scientist theme, and co-writes the slight melodrama with Gimel Everett. At Cybertech, the Virtual Reality government sponsored research scientist Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) works with chimps in secret experiments using on them drugs and computer programs to make their world a better place to live in. When the chimps go bonkers after his experiment makes them smarter but too aggressive, at home he tricks an unsuspecting gentle but retarded young garden worker, Jobe Smith (Jeff Fehey), into being the subject of his tests and amasses startling results that make him smart and his libido more potent. However the treatment is sabotaged by Larry’s bad scientist director (Mark Bringleson), who works for “The Shop,” an evil government agency, interested in cyber war experiments. He secretly switches the drugs and the experiment now turns the content garden worker into a brilliant megalomaniac killer, with psychokinetic ability, yearning to rule the world. Jobe’s elderly sadistic guardian priest (Jeremy Slate), who abused him with beatings, now gets paid back. Jobe also gets back at others who tormented him when he was mentally incapacitated, and uses a lawn mower he invents that runs by remote control to kill a local bully. Just another failed King adaptation.

Of note, King was not involved except to make some coin by selling his name for the title.

REVIEWED ON 10/30/2017 GRADE: C+