Sunday, May 12, 2013

Manborg - DVD Review


Director: Steven Kostanski
Writer: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Stars: Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Meredith Sweeney, Ludwig Lee
Year: 2011
Running Time: Total after film + short, around 72 minutes.
Studio: Dark Sky Films
Region: 1

Earth finds itself at war with the armies of Hell, led by a sadistic bastard named Count Draculon - like Dracula mixed with Satan, and do I detect a bit of Hitler? After watching his brother die by Draculon's hands (or fangs, more specifically) a soldier (Matthew Kennedy) does what no other man has been brave enough to dare try, he takes on Draculon to avenge his brother's death. This of course immediately backfires within about 4 seconds and he dies a swift and spectacularly violent death.

Cut to the opening credits, where we see him being Robocopped back to life with a variety of junkyard hardware. Shortly after his rebirth (rebooting?) Manborg finds himself imprisoned in a futuristic jail with a few other prisoners:
  • Justice (Conor Sweeney) - Denimed Australian. Dance fanatic.
  • Mina (Meredith Sweeney) -  Justice's hot sister. Isn't Australian. Fights Anime style. Fact: Meredith is Conor's hot sister in in real life as well.
  • #1 Man (Ludwig Lee) - looks like Lui Kang, talks like the guy who does the Dragon Ball Z narration because he's dubbed by the guy who does the Dragon Ball Z narration (Kyle Hebert)

They're forced by an evil dude named The Baron to fight in a futuristic Colosseum against various stop-motion monstrosities. If they die, they're dead and their blood will be harvested, but if they win... they get to go back to prison and wait until the next fight. And they get to do this forever until they die. It's a sweet gig.

With Manborg's help they're eventually able to catch The Baron off guard and fight their way out of future prison. Together they concoct a plot to destroy Draculon and take back Earth for all of humanity. Uh, that's about it for the plot, it's only 62 minutes long movie. There are of course some surprises to be found along the way, but spoiling them wouldn't be very nice of me, now would it?

Manborg is a loving homage to all of the terrible sci-fi/action films of the 80's and 90s. Shot mostly in director Kostanski's garage in front of a green screen this is a pretty remarkable achievement in no budget film making. Astron-6 are some incredibly talented guys, pretty much everything I've seen from these guys looks very professional with great production value, and they're able to nail the look and feel of the films they're doing homages to every single time. In addition their shorts and films are often extremely funny. Though I will say that while I personally find these guys to be very funny, they have a very odd sense of humor that's definitely not for everyone. If you've never experienced Astron-6 and aren't quite sure what to expect, head on over to their site where you can check out most of their shorts, and get a glimpse of the Manborg trailer before you plop any money down on it.

While not as polished or quite as fun as their other full-length film Father's Day, Manborg is retardedly  awesome and wildly entertaining. It's quick-paced, action packed and funny. It's also smart enough to only last 62 minutes, leaving you wanting more instead of making you wish for less. As fun as Manborg is, be sure to stick around after the credits for the amazingly funny Bio-Cop. If you're familiar with Astron-6's shorts you know what to expect, it's a 5-minute long trailer for a fake movie about a perpetually melting, slime-barfing cop. I enjoyed Manborg, but I loved Bio-Cop.

Things to watch for:
Justice's Battle Dance
Trouble with macaroni and cheese 
Houses made of newspaper
Sets made of Photoshop
Mina's battle cry

Mina in general really, she's pretty hot


Dark Sky has loaded this disc up with shenanigrams, I think they utilized every inch of disc space cramming all these features on the disc. For example:

Commentary w/ Director Steven Kostanski
Commentary w/ Director Steven Kostanski, Actor/Writer Jeremy Gillespie, and Executive Producer Peter Kuplowsky
Deleted & Alternate Scenes
Behind the Scenes
Stop Motion Montage
VFX Montage
Short Film
Premiere Q&A

Features are mostly very fun and informative. The Bloopers are a lot of fun, I see I'm not the only one who was amused by Conor's wonky Australian accent as half the reel is people cracking because of his accent. One extra I didn't care for were the interviews. These are all done in a comedic intentionally awkward fashion; Meredith answers a question with "Fuck you!", the interviewer sweats profusely for no reason, that kind of stuff. I'm not a big fan of awkwardness as a form of comedy, so these weren't too fun for me, but if you like awkward comedy there's about 20 of these things for you to enjoy.

In closing, I had a great time with Manborg. It's good, stupid fun and with a current Amazon asking price of $9.99 I won't hesitate to recommend a purchase for anyone interested in checking it out.

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