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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 04.30.09] movie review scifi

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Year: 2009
Directors: Richard Clabaugh
Writers: Richard Clabaugh & Fran Clabaugh
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 8 out of 10

The London Sci-Fi Film Festival opened in grand style with two Imperial Stormtroopers flanking the entrance to the lavish Piccadilly Circus Apollo, and trays of canapes and beverages doing the rounds while we reclined with Playstation 3s. But enough of the high life! It's films you're here for and films you'll get.

The festival opened with the world premier of Richard Clabaugh's “Eyeborgs”, a satirical sci-fi romp that tackles government surveillance, War on Terror paranoia and good old-fashioned technofear head-on. In a future USA where terrorist atrocities have ushered in autonomous, roaming surveillance robots with police powers – the titular eyeborgs - the President's unassuming rock singer nephew finds himself at the centre of a conspiracy that hinges on the evidence of the camera vs that of the human eye.


The only people who seem to know what's going on are conspiracy theorists – disbelieved and laughed at, they are picked off in clever ways the police have no choice but to put down to misadventure. That is until a Department of Homeland Security officer has his attention brought to inconsistencies in the film evidence this future society relies on, and sees that the reality of surveillance USA is much more complicated and frightening than it seems.

The story progresses through a handful of fairly plodding exposition sections – the film's only real flaw – and superb action sequences the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time. They really are spectacular, especially considering the tiny budget Clabaugh and his crew had to work with. Somehow the CGI is more realistic and effective than mega-budget Hollywood spectaculars like Transformers, and the editing is better by an order of magnitude, consistently coherent and punchy. There's no flab in these scenes - though they do leave you crying out for more.

The best sci-fi uses this sort of spectacle as a layer of sugar to coat a bitter pill of serious political thought, and Eyeborgs is no exception. The central theme of surveillance is tackled imaginatively, and while at first the story seems to linearly explore our doubts about government power it ends up taking us in a different and unexpected direction. This multi-layered film making reminded me of Verhoeven in his Robocop heyday, a comparison I don't think the director would disagree with – his use of multi-media in news reports and surveillance footage is an obvious homage, though perhaps better are some very ED209-like robots who cause chaos on a similar eye-popping scale.

Making this connection, it struck me that it's been a long time since we've seen this sort of proper sci-fi in the cinema: layers of action and humour dressing up serious political satire. Eyeborgs doesn't just do this, it does it with flare. It's a low-budget and in some ways unassuming little film that punches miles above its weight.

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Cyberhal (5 years ago) Reply

hey Ben, thanks for the review. i saw the promo posters for this at AFM I think last year, but unfortunately didn't see it. Sound very cool

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Buckman (5 years ago) Reply

Love this. Kind of a Philip K. Dick thinker meets, like you said -'Robocop.' I'm a bit surprised that the film takes place in a U.S. setting since London is far more intrusive with their surveillance than we Yanks.

Thanks for posting this. It missed my radar.

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Undone (5 years ago) Reply

I did see this movie and liked most aspects. At times the "shakey cam" seemed a bit over used, but when it stopped the rest was worth watching. The ending leaves you wondering....

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Ben Austwick (5 years ago) Reply

I actually got a bit of motion sickness from the shaky cam - though that probably had a lot to do with playing Mirror's Edge in the foyer for half an hour beforehand...

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scott atkins (5 years ago) Reply

i have the honor to personally know Richard Clabaugh. this is an amazing review and i can't wait to see the movie

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Anonymous (5 years ago) Reply

Adrian Paul is brilliant in this movie, would love to see this movie make it to a theatre release.

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Christina (5 years ago) Reply

I was lucky enough to see this film, and have to agree that it is an excellent film... it was to me like a cross between "1984" and "Alien". It was great! Adrian Paul's performance was riveting and terrific! I also hope very much for a theater release, and U.S. distribution, very quick so that my friends and family get to see it!

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Mike Albano (5 years ago) Reply

I am a personal friend of Richard Clabaugh living here in Florida & was priveledged to know & see ahead what he was working on and assured him "EYEBORGS' was a WINNER! I can't wait for it to get here so I may see it in completion.

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Chellie (5 years ago) Reply

I was lucky enough to see this film and I absolutely loved it!!! Adrian Paul was brilliant and wonderful as always and I truly hope that it will be released in theaters!!! I will definately have this movie as soon as it's released on dvd!!!

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Brent Alton (5 years ago) Reply

I was lucky enough to see this at the RiverRun festival. I was blown away. Loved the action! The robots looked absolutely real. Best cgi composites with real footage I can remember seeing, ever...Way to go guys!! Bring it US theaters!

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Kelly Martin (5 years ago) Reply

I had the privilege to work on this film on the stunt team and as a DHS agent. I have yet to see the film, but it sounds like it was a hit. I'm so pleased for Richard Clabaugh. He, as well as everyone else involved worked very hard to make this film happen. It's nice to see it finally pay off!

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Wanda D. (5 years ago) Reply

As a personal friend of the Clabaugh's since the 70s, it was great to see a good review on a project which they worked so long and hard. Richard is an unrecognized talent of brilliant cinematography. I hope this begins his road to recognition.

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Ben A (5 years ago) Reply

Wanda - great point about Richard's cinematography, it's some of the best I've ever seen. Hopefully some Hollywood big shot is out there watching...

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Roy Echeverria (5 years ago) Reply

kiero saber en donde puedo adquirir una camara pequeña para colocar en mis lentes y grabar via bluetooth a mi compu, soy medico y quisiera grabar algunas operaciones q realizo para fines de exposicion en charlas cientficas.

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Rozlyn (5 years ago) Reply

It is great to see and hear all the excitement regarding Eyeborgs. Can't wait until it arrives in NC, where I was able to make a small contribution to the film. Don't forget to keep the actors informed.

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FrankBoo (5 years ago) Reply

Here's the trailer and another clip. check it out - http://eyeborgs.com/press/trailers/Gunner_Trailer_01.mov

and a 30 sec teaser - http://eyeborgs.com/press/trailers/EB_30%20Sec_web.mov

main website:
http://bit.ly/iuLfF

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Anonymous (4 years ago) Reply

Just Saw it and loved it!

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Cha (4 years ago) Reply

I had the honor of being asked to be in this film by John Rushton, and I have never had more fun doing any type of theatrical endeavor than I did this. I'm so happy to see that it's being accepted the world over. It's all so surreal to know that I'm in something that's being shown overseas and the places I drive past every day are all through out the movie. Thank you for the wonderful review, I know how hard everyone worked to put this movie together so I know they appreciate this.

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Anonymous (4 years ago) Reply

Film has now won the award for Best Visual Effects at this years Action on Film festval in Pasadena and now has won for Best SciFi Feature at the International Horror and SciFi Film Festival!

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Anonymous (4 years ago) Reply

I woudl love to see it. Is it ever going to be released in the US?

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Joshua Collier (4 years ago) Reply

I am a personal friend of John Rushton, Dale Girard Richard Clabaugh and just, I mean just finished watching the first blu-ray disk of the film that was filmed in my town with many if my friends and John right there. I am not a sci-fi fan perse, but this movie was absolutely incredible. I found myself completely sucked into the story and the plausable situations that the characters found themselves in. The political commentary is palpable and even once let a line slip about actual events as opposed to theatrical happenings. The performances of many of the main characters are as great as the concept of this movie. While mid-film, one forgets that there is CGI used at all because of the painfully realistic motions and human-like sentiment of the robots. I think that what Crimson Wolf Productions has done is something that has not been done before and really addresses the issue of safety vs. security. The twist at the end of this movie will blow your minds. Eyeborgs is a wonderful film and I hope that it achieves the recognition and acclaim that it deserves!

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Anonymous (4 years ago) Reply

Eyeborgs is coming out in the US on July 6th. DVD, Blu-ray and Video-on-Demand. Some other good reviews are showing up, but you got it first! Thanks for spotting this one early. http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3239eye.html

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Cinderella (4 years ago) Reply

Loved it! I am not a big fan of sci-fi movies normally, but those Eyeborgs are pretty awesome. I was totally into the storyline and loved the effects and stunts. It is amazing that this kind of high-caliber movie can come out of little old Winston-Salem. :)

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CrackHoe NuttBunns (3 years ago) Reply

I saw EYEBORGS after downloading a rip from The Piratebay and must say it turned out to be an excellent show. Is there a button somewhere to send the Director $5? In any case, keep up the good work, thanks!

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Alex (3 years ago) Reply

What is wrong with you guys this movie is god awful
A straight to sci fi channel movie
The only thing I enjoyed was seeing my home town in the movie


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