Wednesday, August 1, 2012

MANBORG (2011) review

Manborg (2011) d. Kostanski, Steven (Canada)

I was fortunate enough to catch Manborg on the big screen at the 2012 Fantasia film festival this past summer amidst a capacity crowd of like-minded, enthusiastic blood brothers and sisters, which is the best possible way to see this hilariously nutty sci-fi actioner. If it’s true that director Steven Kostanski (who is also credited with the screenplay alongside Jeremy Gillespie) created this slice of celluloid insanity for a mere $1000, then Canadian filmmaking collective Astron-6 (Father’s Day) needs to be running the world because they know how to do “more with less” better than anyone else. While less energetically offensive than their breakout effort, it’s an inspired and affectionate tribute to the schlocky futuristic cheapjack action pics of the ’80s that hits on all cylinders and never lets up.

In a not-so-distant dystopian future, humans are waging a losing battle against hellspawn of every stripe. After one brave soul (Matthew Kennedy) dies in the service of his species, he awakens as a cybernetic construct in the top secret laboratory of the duplicitous Dr. Scorpius (Adam Brooks). Together with three other humanoid survivors, Manborg is forced to fight as a gladiator in a Thunderdome-type arena as the fate of the world lies in the balance.

Manborg is great campy fun that never takes itself seriously, with (intentionally) cheap looking and amateurish set pieces, over-the-top performances, stop-motion beasties, sassy heroines, romantically conflicted mutants, hilariously dubbed martial artists (a joke that never, ever gets old), and digital explosions by the score. Anyone who loves low budget cinema, on either side of the camera, needs to see this movie now.

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