Saturday, October 29, 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Manborg (2011)

This review is part of my coverage of the 2011 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, taking place October 20-27 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. For more information, check out their website. For my full coverage go here.

OK so this movie is called Manborg. What the fuck else do you need to know about it? Except that the tagline is "Revenge is back".

Fine fine I WILL WRITE AN ACTUAL REVIEW. Brought to us by the Astron-6 collective (my new favorite people), Manborg is a short and sweet low-budget sci-fi parody that envisions a future after Hell wins a war with Earth. In a mechanized city populated with demons, the remaining humans are forced to fight for entertainment. When the mysterious half-man, half-robot known as Manborg (Matthew Kennedy) appears, the human prisoners make a plan to escape and overcome their tyrannical overlords with his help.

At a trim 60 minutes, Manborg offers perfect goofy entertainment and never overstays its welcome (unlike a number of other similarly-minded parodies). The premise is appropriately silly and interesting, with a hilarious cast of mismatched characters and effects that surpass (and at times betray) the $1000 budget. With the good guys there's an outspoken Australian gunman (Conor Sweeney), his knife-wielding sister (Meredith Sweeney), and advanced martial artist Number One Man (Ludwig Lee, dubbed hilariously by Kyle Herbert). With the bad guys there's the melodramatic Dr Scorpius (Adam Brooks), the evil demon lord Draculon (also Adam Brooks), and his second-in-command the Baron (Jeremy Gillespie), who just wants to be loved! Everyone feels vaguely familiar due to the various genre-specific references, but the likable cast imbues the characters with layers of comedy and sometimes badassery. It's like Mad Max, Mortal Kombat, Robocop, The Terminator, and everything that's awesome rolled together to make something even better?

The more I think about this movie the more I want to watch it again. The one reservation I had going in was the visuals, since the entire thing is shot in front of a green screen and the effects are purposefully (I assume?) sort of shitty. But writer/director Steve Kostanski is also a stop-motion animator, and I loved the various stop-motion monsters and effects he incorporated into the film. It gives it a simultaneously retro and modern-day feel. Plus the costumes were pretty cool (read: I dug Meredith Sweeney's blue wig), with various mechanical things constructed out of everyday objects.

Most of Manborg doesn't make any sense, but all of it is hilarious and amazing. Thank you Astron-6.


Pair This Movie With: The silliness, enthusiasm, and shoestring budget of the Astron-6 crew remind me a little of Trey Parker's student film Cannibal! The Musical. Alternatively, the Baron character is reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda parody webseries, The Legend of Neil.

Astron-6 official site
Manborg trailer
Manborg Q&A at TADFF


  1. You pretty much sold me on it when you stated: "It's like Mad Max, Mortal Kombat, Robocop, The Terminator, and everything that's awesome rolled together to make something even better?"

    Plus the 60 minute running time is sounds appealing as well. I will definitely check this film out when it hits video.

  2. This review makes me so happy. And I kind of really want to see this now. Sounds a bit like the kind of thing my friend has worked on - ever heard of RobotBastard! ? Cause I think you NEED to see it if you haven't already! I think it's still online... Yup -