Is it wrong to enjoy bad movies? I don't think so! There's something to be said for simply watching a movie to have a good time, and often the smaller the budget (and hype) the more enjoyable the end result may be. It's my love for awful cinema that opened the door for a review of possibly the goofiest film released on Blu-ray to date: 'Eyeborgs.'
The funny thing is, with a bit more polish, and a better third act, 'Eyeborgs' could have been truly amazing. It's a film of unrealized potential, or squandered opportunity, depending on your outlook on life.
Terrorist attacks have opened the door for change in America, as the Freedom of Observation Act, headed by the Department of Homeland Security, has linked all surveillance cameras, as well as any form of electronic communication, to create an all-seeing, all-knowing defense system, known as ODIN (Optical Defense Intelligence Network). The real beauty of the system? Eyeborgs. These critters wander around, recording everything they see and hear, networking with police in an attempt to prevent crime, and instituting a form of control. But what if the machines were compromised? Gunner Reynolds (Adrian Paul), reporter Barbara Hawkins (Megan Blake), and the nephew of the president, Jarett Hewes (Luke Eberl) are about to find out that the powers handed to these robotic enforcers may have given them control of the entire country, and the world.
"Those who chose safety over freedom deserve neither."
'Eyeborgs' is so stupid, it's smart, yet so smart that it's infinitely stupid. It's a tad paint-by-numbers, leading the viewer along by the hand, with characters explaining things out loud in a manner that people don't do (think of those annoying radio "conversation" commercials, where two people banter on about a product or service), and twists along the road can be about as predictable as an M. Night Shyamalan "thriller." The references to voter fraud, constant war for profit, and behavioral control are just side notes, throw away lines, rather than highlights, in what could have been a valid sci-fi political spoof.
Only, the trees aren't killers here. Robots are. It's a neat twist that these accepted parts of democracy, which remove all freedom, and constantly skirt legality openly, before they go grow murderous, are armed with various weapons. The miniature bots contain tasers and saw blades (saws that are never seen spinning, despite the noises they make suggesting otherwise), while the bigger Eyeborgs contain drills and spikes. They act in unison, which is great, as the best horror films out there have creatures that don't operate by their lonesome, rather as part of a collective. The film gets ridiculous by the time the third act rolls around, but the regular surveillance Eyeborgs are quite fun villains.
No matter how amusing and entertaining 'Eyeborgs' is, it's certainly not a good film. The various allegations of terrorists doing this and that are hardly concerns to the viewers, as we don't have a single character to truly care about in this story, as numerous one-dimensional beings take the role of the lead throughout the film. The photo/video-shopping done by the Eyeborgs is so damn awful, that anyone believing that shit must have never seen a television before. Characters are more fodder than they are human, so their continued peril is hardly worthy of consideration or concern. If anything, it's hard not to root for the Eyeborgs to kill everyone in their path, considering who they're up against. A purple headed Presidential-relative, who doesn't even know the truth about his uncle, who carries around a crumby guitar. His girlfriend, whose past attempted suicide is highlighted for an obvious payoff. A reporter who knows the truth but does little about it. A government agent in the same boat. Hell, the only good characters are the ones that get the least amount of time, as Danny Trejo gets some time in, miscast as he may be for his role of a conspiracy theorist guitar salesman (seriously, if he sold throwing knives, or, I dunno, machetes, then I'd go for it).
As a whole, this film fails. But take out the last third of the film, and you're left with the following: Erotic car washes with girls constantly soaping up the windows, rather than paying attention to the wheels or any panels. Robots that fake car accidents. Random odd occurrences setting the way for further Eyeborg frame-jobs. Robots that manipulate video in order to get what they want. People rattling on about the world around them, with little they can do about it. And lest we forget, robots that blow shit up. I can forgive the cheesy five dollar sets. I can almost forgive the scene of Gunner walking down a church aisle, as flashbacks of his slain wife and child fade in and out to either side of him. I can even forgive not showing off Trejo's trademark chest tattoo. But I can't forgive wasted opportunities and potential, and 'Eyeborgs' almost redefines both, going from "intriguing and tongue-in-cheek" to "balls-to-the-walls stupid" in almost a minute flat, right when the biggest twist of the film is revealed. This one coulda been special. It coulda been a contendah. Instead, it's going to get very, very little movement on the home video front, and for good reason.
Image brings 'Eyeborgs' to Blu with an AVC MPEG-4 encode (1080p, 2.35:1) that can be a tad half-baked at times.
Detail is solid, and colors are equally impressive, with great skin tones (for the most part) and solid contrast levels. There's no banding, ringing, or aliasing problems. So why call it less than great? There are many reasons.
Occasionally there's a smattering of noise, which on a few occasions looked frozen. Light artifacting is visible, while delineation is pathetic, with even well lit scenes suffering black on black icrush. Grain is inconsistent, with very little for the most part, but random shots that are utterly littered with it. Entire scenes can have a greenish tint that can't be from the lighting, as blues, blacks, and grays suffer, while whites remain solid and natural. Lastly, though not the fault of the transfer, the Eyeborgs themselves can be a visual distraction. The smaller they are, the better they look, as they blend into their environments proper, but the larger they get, the more they stand out, with lighting that cannot possibly fit in with their scenes, making them feel too damned out of place and thrown in at the last minute, with the last remaining dollars of the budget. The supplements package states that the majority of the film was made with handheld cameras, so the constant wobble of the picture is the way it will always be.
There is only one option for audio on 'Eyeborgs:' a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (with optional English SDH and Spanish subs). There is also only one way to describe said track: overkill.
When first watching this release, it feels like a job well done. Rear activity is constant. Dialogue is clear. Range is unlimited. Music is intense, bass is rocking, utterly rocking. Then the shit hits the fan. Any time there's soundtrack and dialogue, dialogue suffers. Anytime there's action and dialogue, dialogue suffers. Soundtrack and effects, dialogue and effects, and so on, and so on, you get the picture. Noise becomes indistinct, and to quote Brick from 'Anchorman,' "LOUD NOISES!!!!" Louder elements of the mix can blare, particularly any moment an actor "yells." Gunfire has great pop at first, with localization and all that jazz, but with each scene involving gunplay, the score is raised in intensity so much that it all becomes a indistinct roar. Hell, one only need quote the film itself for an explanation of this track. It's just a bunch of incoherent screaming!" True that.
I cannot say this will happen to everyone, but if you leave the menu open too long, it can reset, to the point where you cannot make any choices with your remote, other than to eject the disc. The tab selector disappears, it's just a loop of the same horrid rock track. Even when it's working, when at the full left, pressing left won't get the cursor to the far right, and the same goes from right to left, which is a pretty basic command. Menu fail, all around.
'Eyeborgs' isn't a terrible film. It really isn't. It's just all potential, with little actual follow up.
Still, 'Eyeborgs' is fairly good for such a random title, at least in terms of Blu-ray quality, even if the supplement package is pretty weak. For both the unintentional comedy factor, and the premise, which had so much going for it, this one is worth a look. It may be easy to dump on the film, but to those willing to give it a shot, they just may find 2/3's of a good movie here.