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Not to be confused with PROTOTYPE starring Christopher Plummer about a childlike Android who escapes from a secret government lab. Directed by the same guy who brought us APEX, DIGITAL MAN, DARK DRIVE and other cybertronic cyberschlock, PROTOTYPE X29A ends up being the best acted of all of them. Now the extremely long story is complicated, and very strange for a lot of reasons, but there is indeed a story here going on, and a few pretty interesting scenes. Having said that, and before I attempt to get into the story of this movie, the cover, the subtitle, and the synopsis on the box obviously are attempts at marketing this weird movie but do not accurately describe just what this movie is.

If you have seen IN THE AFTERMATH, or CAPTAIN POWER AND THE SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE, you are almost prepared to watch this movie. It reminded me a bit of HARDWARE, but there is this rather complicated story about cyborgs called OMEGAS, which seem to be people who are somewhat advanced through implants, and killer cyborgs called Prototypes which are programmed to kill the OMEGAS. The beginning seems to be a post-apocalyptic future like TERMINATOR, where the PROTOTYPE cyborg is trying to kill one of these OMEGAS. It isn't quite clear in the beginning about whether these OMEGAS are good or evil, who is the bad guy, who is the good guy...and that is where you fail in trying to understand this movie. By assuming this will be a shootemup killer cyborg action flick, you are setting yourself up for a long boring ride. This is not one of those movies where you root for good guys and bad guys. I have to tell you right off, the script has some good things in it, and the direction is to an extent probably pretty good* as far as the characters and acting go for one of these cybertronic B-Movies, the problem is that it appears to have the budget of an episode of CAPTAIN POWER AND THE SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE, and there's a lot of cheapo effects, but nice big explosions. The main story of the film is about an invalid computer whiz who is in love with the daughter of the OMEGA guy at the beginning of the film who is killed by a PROTOTYPE. You see you can get confused quickly, as it takes place 20 years after this opening scene.

*It almost seems as if there are more than one director. There is someone trying to make a 'real movie' out of this at the same time a second unit director who is utterly terrible is shooting the action may even be that this movie was directed by three people, as there are more scenes which seem like they are directed by somebody else. You have the main story about Chandra and Hawkins being directed maybe even pretentiously by one guy, who's trying to make a drama, you have action scenes done by someone who assumes this is a C-Grade kids movie, and you have somebody else who's making a movie about Brenda Swanson (Steel and Lace) who is trying to resurrect the PROTOTYPE X29A project with an old guy who has alterior motives.

The Chandra and Hawkins characters are well done, and there are other characters which are not well done in this movie. The two main actors are actually well cast, and the thing is, all of these people you are watching who are stuck in this low budget films are not quite your standard stock characters. In a way they are, but in a way they aren't. I can't really make fun of this movie as I had hoped to because there are in fact some surprising scenes, and surprising on screen character development, and character arcs going on. There is a bit of vagueness that isn't quickly explained by the movie as it goes along for your standard mindless B-Movie audience. This movie is pretentious to say the least, but it really is trying to be serious science ficiton. There's a story to be caught up in here, but about the characters, not necessarily the plot about cyborgs. This movie could have fared better without attempting to be the next ROBOCOP or TERMINATOR. The post-apocalypse setting and tone is actually the best part, how the people live, and how tired and hungry people are. People are worn out, used up, and messed up. There are no perfect super-heroes or protagonists in this movie, unless you include the gay martial-arts protector monks...yes I just said that...We've got a depressed guy in a wheel chair who tries to take care of a girl he loves, who goes out into the wasteland getting raped, selling herself, fucking around, etc. She's messed up because she watched her father die when she was 2, and she's had no parents. Thugs beat people up and steal your shit and rape you, and basically, the world is a shitty place to live. All the girl has to do is realize that this guy in the wheelchair is the best thing that ever happened to her, and she needs to stop fucking around. He eventually volunteers to become a cyborg so he can walk, but he has no idea what he's in for. The funny thing is the movie breaks down because we've seen better special effects in similar sci-fi worlds, and this movie wasn't quite planned out to be any kind of action movie, however, its a very bizarre kind of gonzo sci-fi art film at the same time, with these messed up kids in a messed up world, which is the only part of the movie that really works well. There's a real story going on there, about people in the future and it doesn't belong in a schlocky B Movie about cyborgs, on the other hand, the cyborg plot, which is almost hard to follow at times, only because you're being led down this path of not knowing just what the hell this scientist is up to, or why. What the simplistic audience isn't expecting is character motivations...there is a lot of this going on in the movie, its what the movie ends up really being all about. Unfortunately it inserts this weird sort of 'prophetic' symbolism which totally collapses when you see the guy in the rubber suit. Now, it all worked fairly well in CAPTAIN POWER AND THE SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE, which was praised by Roger Ebert himself, but in this case, direction is the problem. This is the case of a low-budget movie with too much going on and not enough resources, and probably too few people working on it to sort things out. This movie is a lot like IN THE AFTERMATH in so many ways, that if you liked that movie, you might actually buy this movie. If you hated that movie, you won't like this one.

There are certainly a lot of things happening which an audience isn't going to like or follow that this movie has...foreign sounding people...a gloomy tone...a cyborg plot which you have to keep following and figure out as you go along, and at the center a serious and deep character driven story about these relationships and these people and how fucked up they are, wrapped up in a CAPTAIN POWER package...nobody is going to figure it out! It has elements you would only find in eihter a Canadian movie, or some foreign art film. There are a lot of scenes with just facial expressions and gestures which you have to examine to tell what's going on in the story. Perhaps the director watched LE DERNIER COMBAT and wanted to do with cyborgs. I liked the story of the two main characters, until you have to go back to the cyborg plot. In the beginning all I wanted to see was the damn cyborg shoot things, but then I got caught up in the story of the main characters, Chandra and Hawkins...thrown off kilter every time we cut back to the mysterious scientist lady and her secret plot to reactivate the PROTOTYPE 20 years after it terminated itself, which ultimately turns out to be another plot by the guy helping her...and that's a whole other see...too much going on here. Does it tie up at the end? Yes, but we never find out just what CHANDRA is truly capable of and why, thus almost forfeiting her character arc. Poor Hawkins completes his arc by basically becoming some kind of tragic character whose destiny was to become the next PROTOTYPE so he could stop the cycle of extermination going on...and there are attempts to tie it to the beginning using irony, but it kind of flops and fails because the payoff doesn't settle the subplots. It doesn't end with PROTOTYPE Hawkins saving the day in some predictable fashion, he basically kills almost everyone...and you kind of hate to see him just go totally haywire...but you see, ah well, he wanted to walk again, the fool... The thing is, this movie is so bizarre, you really want it all to work out perfectly...and it could have, it really has a lot going for it in the middle of the actually had a few memorable scenes which have now stuck with me, and some good lines, and a few emotional moments, and it isn't that the cyborg PROTOTYPE is laughably "Henshin" and seems to not belong in this movie, it's that ultimately it is a poor execution in an overall sense, though as I said, it succeeds in the middle of the film par excellance with these characters, doesn't fall as so many movies do with some cheap and lazy cop-outs, this movie is anything BUT lazy. There's an intelligent movie inside this weird thing, but it tries too hard, tries to do too much with too little available...

If you watched IN THE AFTERMATH, LE DERNIER COMBAT, HARDWARE and liked the tone of MAN FACING may actually find this movie worth watching to some extent. If you are looking for a B-Movie to either laugh at, laugh with, or just have fun watching shit explode and get blown to pieces, there's too much heavy shit going on for you to enjoy it, I certainly didn't hate this movie, or feel cheated, I can't hate it really, but I cannot recommend it but to the few out there who can watch perhaps bizarre Canadian films which have no real definition or category. This film is ultimately a drama, a post apocalyptic drama which has a bigger story than it can really handle for what it was made for. It's true science fiction in the sort of Ray Bradbury/Outer Limits sense, but is even too big of an idea for the scope of the sort of budgets that such series can handle. It could have worked with a bit more planning and money, and editing, and it might have even worked just as a simple story about two young people in love in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles... It may even have worked if PROTOTYPE just wandered around shooting at people, but it just falls short. This is not the worst movie ever made as some people say, check ABSOLUTE AGGRESSION on that, there's a real movie somewhere in this effort, the people who made ABSOLUTE AGRESSION don't even know what a movie is.

Though it sounds like I am defending this film, I am not necessarily recommending it, you have to be a pretty unique filmgoer to watch this, the kind who watches foreign dramas, and even then you're going to wonder what the fuck this rubber cyborg is doing in this movie. If you enjoyed CAPTAIN POWER AND THE SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE, where they attempt to slip in some serious sci-fi drama into a childrens show about robots, this might actually work for you, keeping in mind that the ending really doesn't do justice to the characters they spent such a hard time developing. It also isn't the kind of film you can really have fun, making fun of it. There really isn't enough stuff that is so retarded and cheesy and silly that you can get drunk and giggle at. Its not a fun movie, it's drama, it's heavy into motivations, and basically they failed at hybridizing that with what appears to be an action sci-fi movie but isn't. It is a worthy attempt at making a real sci-fi drama perhaps by someone who didn't really know how to do it, or wanted to push it to another level beyond B-Movie crapola by spending a lot of time on characters, or perhaps it was a great script trashed by a lousy budget and a production team who thought they were making Cyborg 3. Whatever the case may be, it is an interesting movie, that ultimately has me still thinking about it days later, either because I'm confused, or there simply is one or two things I liked about it. The end of the movie isn't good, but there is just something about this movie that I really wanted to work after getting caught up in it. Perhaps they never had an idea how to finish it, though the ending was actually written down for them.

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