Hardware – A Good Idea Gone Wrong

Ok, yes I know that I am about 20 years to late watching this film, but I finally got around to it a few nights ago (thank you Netflix and Gabe from the Office for referencing this film.) The film, Hardware (1990) is loosely based on a short story from the  2000 AD comic book. The Short story, called SHOK! Walter’s Robo-Tale was written by Steve MacManus and Kevin O’Neill and followed the aftermath of the Cursed Earth Saga.

This is definitely LOOSELY based on the comic strip. After I learned it was based on a comic I went and read it to see how the film faired. Now I had already deemed this film terrible (even Dylan McDermott’s sexiness couldn’t save it, I mean he is actually a great actor especially if you have seen any American Horror Story.) However, this film seems to only vaguely resemble the actual comic strip. So I compiled a list (which is something I LOVE doing).

5 things the film could have done better based on the comic:

1.The Back Story

So the movie didn’t really explain where the robot came from other than it being found in the desert (and revealed at the end that it was a military machine).  I wish they had at least a little back-story on why the world was all apocalyptic-y. The comic is set in the after math of Cursed Earth Saga where you can find out what happened, but the film gives no reasoning. It just starts in the middle of it.

A little exposition is all a girl wants.

2. Timing

This is a little misleading, by timing I mean this: 34 minutes into the movie (I know cause I checked) the robot was still just a head and nothing was even happening. The characters were still romping while the creepy guy watched and Shades pined over a girl he could never have. The movie is only 93 minutes long! The spent waaaaay too much time on the non-essential points of the story, and severely lacked in the confrontation part of the story, the most important part.

I get it, what sci fi fan doesn’t like apocalyptic sex scene in the future, but when they go one for what seems like forever with a creepy guy watching, it just seems…. Unnecessary. The comic actually starts at the same time as the movie, but jumps right into the action. I know they needed filler to make a full length feature, but I personally think they should have added some info about the past and beefed that part up in the story, rather than spending so much time with nonessential scenes.

3. The Actual Robot

Something I hated so much about the film was the actual robot. It was for a lack of a better word…. LAME. I realize that the film had budgetary concerns and was also made in 1990… but come one. It lumbered all awkwardly and made a ton of freaking noise (which I still don’t understand how she slept through it rebuilding it self). I think they should have gone with a more humanoid type of cyborg.

The one in the comic looks robotic but acts human. It doesn’t just labor it self around like freaking General Grievous. If they could have made it a bit more natural I think it would have looked better and made a lot more sense in the story line.

4. The Creepy Perv Next Door

Now I don’t remember there being a creepy weird guy next door in the comic with a scope and a penchant for dirty talk. But lo and behold this character shows up in the film. While Jill and Mo are doing the horizontal future Rhumba, a genuine weirdo watches everything though a scope while talking dirty… to himself… and I have to say, sweating A LOT. It’s just so weird. I don’t think it added ANYTHING to the actual story or film.

In the comic, this freaky scenario doesn’t exist. I think they should have taken a cue from the short story, and just not added it! I cant see any reason why he has to be there, even though the character comes back at the end and gets killed, I could have done without. Have that happen to a different character, like a doorman or something, someone who has actual business being there.

5. The Ending:

The film ended with Mo (Mike in the comic) lying dead after trippin on some hallucinogenic drug and killing himself, and Jill (Lyn in the comic) leading it to the bathroom where she turns the water on thusly short circuiting it and effectively killing it, even though the thing has been shot like 15 times right in the face. I hated this ending; I mean firstly it’s a freaking robot why did she think sooner that things, which are electric, are disabled by water? And secondly how does a robot that has been continually shot gunned in the face still work? Either way, it’s a semi-happy ending but I hated it.

I think they should have used the ending from the actual comic, which was inherently creepy and satisfying (much like McDermott and American Horror Story!). In this ending, Mike comes home and sees Lyn sitting on the couch and when he confronts her, she is actually the robot (known as M.A.R.K 13 in the movie and a S.H.O.K. Trooper in the comic). It was so weird and unsettling! And it also left the ending open-ended, although I think its safe to assume he dies or is injured by the creepy-ass robot. I think this ending would have been way better for the film as well because you don’t see it coming. Its unexpected and that’s what I want in a film like this, is to be surprised, not be able to predict the ending 20 minutes into the film.

In conclusion, you should still watch this film, because it is fun to watch with someone else but don’t expect to be frightened, or surprised or even finding the film interesting because it just isn’t. I hope someone can do a real remake, with good graphics, good acting, and a better representation. Also, read the comic strip, its actually really great.

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