Menno's Mind

aka, POWER.COM (1996)

Director: Jon Kroll

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Bruce Campbell gets killed off fairly early in the story, so we're stuck with some lame-ass actors as the actual stars. Menno is played by Bill Campbell (who is not Bruce's brother as some fans have speculated; they are no relation) as a near-future computer programmer involved in processing personalized virtual reality programs for purposes of company profit.

Unfortunately there's a bad politician very badly played by Corbin Bernsen, from the old prime time soap opera LA Law & he comes off as a soap opera villain. He's an evil man with an evil plot to secretly rewrite the central program that controls all virtual reality programs throughout the nation, so that when people log on to their favorite fantasy on voting day, they will all receive sublminal commands to vote for the boring bad guy.

Even if a more competent actor had played this bad guy, the writing & staging is too nonsensical to do anything with. He's supposedly a powerful politician about to take over the world but has only one actual henchman who is a skittish dork & they all come off as low-level management in a firm that makes bottle caps or pencils, except even the bottle cap manager would have had a more impressive office.

Cheating at the voting box doesn't seem to require such a futuristic mind-control technology so it is never very interesting. Where this technology came from & why no one else knows it exists is never explained, perhaps the bad guy found the program in a box of crackerjacks.

Before Bruce Campbell's only half-interesting character dies, he loads the contents of his mind onto a super-memory-disc. He was the only guy in the underground Revolution who could stop the vote fraud. For our hero Menno to access this information requires the dead revolutionary's brain be uploaded into his own head, so that computer geek Menno becomes Half Geek, Half Revolutionary, out to reveal & stop the bad man from being elected dictator.

I was willing to overlook the amateurish animation that passes as FX, but the story gets so silly that even after the dictator is killed, the necessity to stop him from getting elected dictator continues to provide the excuse & momentum for the remainder of the climax. Even though it wouldn't matter much if everyone had been subliminally encouraged to elect a corpse, it's not like that would make the guy less dead. Yet stopping the evil plot is for the rest of the film treated like a major emergency worth the risk of life & mind, just gotta stop those subliminal cues from being launched so that the dead bad guy does not get elected.

Mind control technology & a technology whereby two minds can share one body should've inspired more interesting science ficiton scenarios than "Oh no! What if the dead villain gets elected!" It's just a damned foolish movie.

The acting is so bad that a supporting performance by Michael Dorn actually looks pretty good. He has the same wooden deadpan delivery in this role that he used when playing Warf on Star Trek, because he really can't act & only has this one manner of performance. But compared to everyone else in this bad film he comes off talented. Star Trek fans may like seeing him even in a terrible film, with the bonus of a small roll from Robert Picardo (Voyager's holo-doctor not to be confused with hello-kitty) as a subsidiary minor bad guy.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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