With movies like Kung Fury, Turbo Kid, Wolf Cop, video games like Far Cry 3: Dragon Blood, and (most recently, as of writing) the Netflix series Stranger Things, there seems to be a revival of sorts for 80s nostalgia lately. I cannot tell you how much I love it. Especially when it's done right.
While Manborg gets a few things right, by absolutely nailing the tone, it misses the mark a bit with a story that's fueled by cliche and cultural references.
|But it can be overwhelming without the story to compensate.|
The movie opens with a scene between two brothers in what is essentially Alternative World War Something (against the Machines). One brother is killed by the big bad guy. The other is saved and turned into Manborg. You might find some similarities between Manborg and the Mandroid (as seen in Eliminators)...that wasn't unintentional.
The references to other 80s source material don't stop there. The film includes a plethora of other wink-wink nods...like the martial artist "Number One Man" (a reference to Sonny Chiba's Street Fighter), stealing the basic story-line from Mega Man, and the anime-like knife throw seen above.
And that's the problem.
While it's interesting to toss retro-references at your audience at the approximate rate of six-per-scene, the story still has to be interesting enough to hold their attention. If this movie had, perhaps, avoided going (close to) full feature-length (like Kung Fury did, to great benefit), it might not have collapsed under its own weight.
|There's some decent stop-motion, at least. Don't see enough of that these days.|
Recommended only if watching with people who fondly remember this stuff and can jump in with commentary when you all get bored.