Plot: What’s it about?
In the future, the world has become a haven for pollution and toxins, so much so that people have been forced underground. Although this kind of life has few pleasures, the newest and popular one has taken the masses by storm, to say the least. This is no normal drug however, instead a special microchip which is inserted into the system, which then releases massive amounts of data that feed the user’s brain. These chips have a price of course and when Lori (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), a female bodyguard dashes with a suitcase full of them, someone is bound to pursue her. That someone is Plughead (Vernon Wells), so named because of his cranium, which is designed to test the various chips and of course, use them to the fullest extent. With Lori and a special pleasure android en route to New York to distribute the chips, Plughead will have to work double time to catch them, but with all those chips on the line, he is bound to do whatever it takes.
This is not your typical sci/fi flick, as it isn’t bogged down with explosions and action elements, but Circuitry Man still rocks, if you ask me. I liken the premise and approach to a William Gibson style project, lots of dark visions and minimalist flash, very cool, I think. So no, this is not a fast paced action thrill ride with mind blowing special effects, but it is rock solid sci/fi if you ask me and that’s more than enough reason to check it out. It has some negative points of course, especially in terms of budget limits, but it works out well enough in the end. I do wish the film had some extra cash to work with, but the filmmakers stretch the funds, so it looks and plays pretty well, in most respects. If you’re a fan of sci/fi and you’re looking for a cool movie to look into, I recommend Circuitry Man with hesitation, especially in this double feature release.
As the polluted, lethally toxic world turns, the pleasure android Danner (Jim Metzler) is freed from an asylum, but with some strings attached. Behind his release is FBI special agent Kyle (Deborah Shelton), who needs his assistance in a certain case. You see, she wants to track down the nefarious Plughead and wants Danner to help her find him, even if it drains his android brain the process. As time passes, Plughead has started to use his chips to inflict pain on those who oppose him, but he also has some larger plans in store. He wishes to jack into the minds of whomever he pleases, to extract what he wants and then leave again, as quickly as he arrived. His scheme also includes a chip which extends the user’s life and of course, that could be a most powerful tool to control. Can Kyle and Danner manage to stop Plughead somehow, or will his evil plans to be made into reality and his control over the planet increase by leaps & bounds?
Ok, so the original Circuitry Man was decent enough, but this sequel, Plughead Rewired is a definite tumble down the scale. But in truth, some of the most amusing sci/fi is the bad kind and in this case, it is so bad, it almost redeems itself. I can’t see myself watching this one too much, but it has some hilarious moments and of course, the presence of Traci Lords (Cry-Baby, Blade). Vernon Wells (The Road Warrior, Commando) and Jim Metzler (Hot to Trot, River’s Edge) also return, but I guess Dana Wheeler-Nicholson couldn’t be bribed into reprising her role from the first flick. This sequel tries to pack a more humorous punch, but most the attempts fall flat out of the gate. But it sometimes adds up to a lot of unintentional laughs, which means the entertainment value levels off somewhat. I wouldn’t call this a good movie and it doesn’t match the original, but if you pick up this double feature, don’t forget to flip the disc and give the movie a spin.
Video: How does it look?
Circuitry Man is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I had low expectations for this flick’s transfer, but Columbia has issued a fine effort, much better than expected. I did see more grain than usual, but as this is a low budget project, I expected some grain and print flaws. The print looks clean other than the grain though, with bright colors and ever stable contrast, no serious issues to point out. It might not stack up against the elite visual transfers out there, but for what it is, this presentation is damn good and should delight fans.
Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II is also presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a terrific looking visual effort and while it is by no means reference level, it is the best home video edition I’ve seen. There is some grain at times, but the print looks clean to me and I doubt anyone will be let down here. The colors look vivid when needed and more subdued at times, while black levels remain crisp and even, just as intended. No real complaints to be made with this one, a sharp looking transfer that should more than please fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
Both films feature 2.0 surround audio and while not overly memorable, I wasn’t let down by either track. The surrounds are used more than a little, to enhance the score and build atmosphere, but don’t expect constant presence. I was quite impressed with the second film’s audio, but both are more than adequate treatments, all things considered. The dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand also, leaving me with no real errors to report. Both films also have subtitle options in English and Spanish, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In addition to housing both feature films, this disc also includes theatrical trailers and audio commentary tracks on both pictures. I found both filmmakers’ commentary sessions (which include Steven & Robert Lovy, Vernon Wells, and each film’s musical composer) to be informative and worthwhile, although some data is repeated over both tracks. Even so, I commend the filmmakers and Columbia for including a track for each of the flicks, very cool indeed.