Friday, 26 September 2014

Manborg - Easy To Admire, Harder To Embrace

The film:
Manborg (2011)

The under-the-radar factor:
Shot largely in a garage (yes, a garage) against green backdrops, this chroma-key/stop-action extravaganza was put together in a piecemeal fashion for around a grand using whatever director Steve Kostanski and associates could get their hands on. After a go-round on the fest circuit, the film was made available on DVD and VOD.

The review:

The last few years have seen a multitude of motion pictures with nine figure budgets and the cutting edge technology that comes with them.

And then...there's the done-by-the-seat-of-its-pants intentionally campy sci-fi effort known as Manborg.  Think Troma mixed in with some earlier types of video games and some Ray Harryhausen touches and you kind of get the results of this micro-budget production.

Manborg and his buddy...
At an unspecified point in history, a war has erupted between humans and the forces of hell. A solider (Matthew Kennedy) seems to die in the line of duty against Nazi-stylized demons led by the evil Draculon. The trooper awakens a number of years later with the realization he has been changed. The half-man, half-machine decides to call himself Manborg. In short order he is introduced to martial arts expert Number 1 Man (Ludwig Lee, with an appropriately (and intentionally) hackish dubbed voice). This escaped prisoner gets to kick-ass with the help of the cyborg who doesn't yet understand the powers he has been given. After they've been recaptured by the evil ones ruling what's left of Earth, the other hero characters are introduced. A quasi-Aussie punk named Justice (Colin Sweeney) is incarcerated with his sister Mina (Meredith Sweeney, Colin's real life sibling), a chick who's more of a fearless fighter than any male in the tale. All you really need to know from here is that the Manborg character comes to know how he was created and what he's really capable of and, that after a period of a little mistrust, the four heroic fighters band together to take on the forces of Draculon for one awesome final showdown.

But Wait!!! Bonus movie time. After the 60 minute feature that is Manborg, viewers of the DVD and VOD get an extra treat - a five minute fake trailer for a faux feature called BIO-COP about a mutilated law enforcement official who cannot die and takes on some drug warlords. It is a very funny and entertaining appendage to the main movie and I want you to keep that in mind as you watch the real trailer for the real feature...

But wait again!! Because you're such nice people, let's look at a different trailer with a few different scenes. (There's a point to this, believe me.)

Hey, we're on a roll now, right? Let's keep watching. The folks behind this film have uploaded a few clips to their own YouTube channel (so it's legal and legit). Here's where the henchman character known as The Baron first lays eyes on the lovely Mina.

Okay, so what's with the trailer-thon?

Don't get me's not that there aren't things to admire in Manborg. These people put a great deal of effort into a project with the most limited of means. The end result is kind of dazzling (here and there), kind of funny (here and there), kind of good...

But remember what I said about the Bio-Cop faux trailer and how entertaining its five minutes were? Perhaps it's just as well that they never made the actual feature because I'm not sure any true additional entertainment value would have arisen. Okay, that's a dumb comment because, of course, who knows?...

But I did see all one hour of Manborg and have revealed here some four minutes or so of trailers and clips and, to be honest, if there was about two or three more minutes to show from other parts of the completed work, I'm not sure there would have been any great additional value in watching the full movie. Much of Manborg comes across as a private video game where you're not allowed to come in, interact and participate in what fun is to be had. The characters, while an okay enough kind of group, aren't going to get you all that wound up in their lives (although Colin Sweeney provides great comic relief in his semi-literacy moments - the film could have used a lot more of him.)

I'm probably just being a big stick in the mud and on another occassion would have had a different reaction. And there are probably folks out there that would get into the cheesiness of this movie and enjoy it immensely. I really wanted to like this flick but, for me, Manborg was a decent eight minute project wearing an ill-fitting 60 minute long suit. People with less stuck up their ass than yours truly can find the film here.

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