Review: Manborg (DVD)

Astron-6's retro-raging homage to 1980's cyborg cinema, Manborg, blasts it's way to DVD from Dark Sky Films!

  • Director: Steve Kostanski
  • Starring: Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney
  • Year: 2011
  • Runtime: 72 Minutes
  • Company:Dark Sky Films
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.85:1 - 16:9 - Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
  • Region: 1 - NTSC
  • Released: 4/30/2013

It's no surprise that the latest feature from Canadian film collective Astron-6 is a laser blast of fun. A sort of fun that's been long absent from genre cinema since the days of magnetic tapes & buzzing video stores. With their recent feature Father's Day and the collection of shorts (read my review of that here), it's clear Astron-6 strive to homage that bygone era by simply keeping the spirit alive. That modus operandi faithfully extends to the groups' sophomore feature Manborg, an insanely lo-fi, do-it-yourself epic that feels like a lost Empire Pictures' cyborg classic.

And that's the most radical endorsement I can think of.

During a war between humans & demons, our soon to be titular hero & a platoon of soldiers meet their demise by the hand of the evil Count Draculon (Adam Brooks) and his minion horde. Cue up a head banging title sequence mixed in with a montage showing the creation of Manborg, and cut to a dystopic future where the demons have taken over & enslaved the human race. Eventually captured himself, Manborg teams up with a ragtag group of heroes: Mina (Meredith Sweeney), Justice (Conor Sweeney), #1 Man (Ludwig Lee and hilariously dubbed by veteran voice actor Kyle Herbert), and Doctor Scorpius (Adam Brooks, pulling double duty) to end the reign of Draculon & his flirtatious right-hand man The Baron (Jeremy Gillespie) for good.

I cannot gush about the aesthetic and ethic of Astron-6 enough. Manborg was shot in a basement in front of green screen fabric, with post production lasting two years due to director Steven Kostanski literally creating the effects himself. These dudes are true video warriors with a die hard passion that exudes from every grainy frame. Manborg is no exception. They know those with proper taste have a constant thirst for cyborgs, lasers, kung-fu, and stop motion, which is delivered in spades here. Mixed in with the nostalgic mayhem is a constant barrage of humor that pokes fun at it's budget, as well as the era of filmmaking they're referencing.

Manborg is the quintessential pizza party film. A junk food tribute to midnight cinema that begs to be watched while under the influence of caffeine amongst your best buds. Based on it's merits & ingenuity alone, it's singly one of the most entertaining films' I've seen this year. Make it a double feature with Robocop, Cyborg, Eliminators, or any other macho machine classic you can get your hands on, and prepare for "awwww yeahhh" & "it's not about the killing, it's about family" to become a regular staple in your vernacular. Manborg is a retro-rager that should be seen and celebrated by all.

  • Video
Manborg's budget was $2,000 and shot with a mini DV camera, so with that in mind, Dark Sky's DVD can only look so good. Manborg is a rough looking film, and that look is faithfully present here. It's grainy and chroma keyed out, but that's the intended vision so you either love it or hate it. The 1.85:1 framed transfer is anamorphically enhanced, making it the best non-VHS looking VHS in your collection.
  • Audio
Manborg is host to a bevy of sound effects, including but not limited to explosions, synth-rock, laser blasts, and arcade style karate beatings. Thanks to the included Dolby Digital Stereo track, these sounds will populate your ear drums with precision.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary - Director Steven Kostanski
  • Audio Commentary - Director Steven Kostanski, Actor/Writer Jeremy Gillespie & Executive Producer Peter Kuplowsky
  • Deleted/Alternative Scenes
  • Bloopers
  • Featurette - "Behind The Scenes
  • Featurette - "Stop Motion Montage"
  • Featurette - "VFX Montage"
  • Interviews
  • Featurette - "Premiere Q&A"
  • Short Film - "Fantasy Beyond"
  • Short Film - "Bio-Cop"
Manborg is incredible, but Bio-Cop is something even more special. This 11 minute short features a police officer who transforms into a melting mess of justice with a death wish. Literally. He just melts and he's tired of it and he wants to die. Bio-Cop is essentially a gooey version of Maniac Cop mixed in with some Street Trash. 'Nuff said.