Written and Directed by: Steven Kostanski
Starring: Adam Brooks, Adam Camara, Christine Elise, Matthew Kennedy, Jeremy Gillespie
In a future where the denizens of Hell have conquered the Earth, humanity’s only salvation lies in the cybernetic fists of Manborg and his companions Mina, Justice and Number One Man.
Manborg! Say it out loud right now. Let it roll off your tongue. That’s what it would feel like if you could have sex in your mouth. Manborg!
A jury-rigged junk masterpiece, Manborg finds its inspiration in the heady days of early ’90s cross-media, where movies would spawn video games that would inspire comics that would be adapted into movies, with each iteration getting shoddier and stranger than the last, like a demented game of Telephone. While on the surface Manborg may seem like nothing more than a straight parody of the sci-fi opuses of Charles Band and Albert Pyun, the cast and crew of the film only take that as their basic framework, adding their own absurdist humour to the mix. Come for the third-degree Terminator rip-off, stay for the hilarious dialogue, impeccable delivery and endearing characterization.
The main draw for me was in the brief glimpse of stop-motion found in the trailer. I had assumed that it would only be used in the climactic centrepiece, as almost no one uses stop-motion anymore, but I was delighted to find that the entire movie was filled with the stuff. Compounding my surprise was just how effective the integration of live-action and animation was, with the battles between human and monster proving to be better choreographed than most of the fights with actual actors.
One word of warning: despite the joy I got from watching this with a crowd, Manborg was painful to view on the big screen, not unlike if they released Rebel Assault or Sewer Shark into theatres. Sure, that sounds great, but it will make your eyes bleed. I imagine this will play even better on a smaller screen, especially on a computer as God intended. If only the Sega CD played DVDs. Also, while I was a little put off by the dominance of green screen in the beginning, I became so used to it that I found the few non-effects scenes jarring.
But those are minor quibbles in what will surely be the break-out CD-ROM video game movie of 2011. In closing, I am glad I did not wear jogging pants to the screening of Manborg. — Wintle