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Studio Home Entertainment presents
Webmaster (1998)

"It took me six months to hack into Stoiss' domain, the largest and most powerful control center in CyberWorld. I thought he would kill me for it. Instead he gave me a job - as webmaster."
- J.B. (Lars Bom)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: September 10, 2000

Stars: Lars Bom, Puk Scharbau
Other Stars: Karin Rorbech, Jorgen Kuhl
Director: Thomas Borch Nielsen

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language)
Run Time: 01:42m:00s
Release Date: April 25, 2000
UPC: 658149747524
Genre: techno thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C DB+B+ C

DVD Review

Director Thomas Borch Nielsen is a veteran of music videos and his first feature film, Webmaster, demonstrates that very well. The editing is fast-paced and the gloss of the imagery is very MTV-ish. Set in an unspecified, Eurotrashy future, Webmaster utilizes the mysteries of cyberspace to enshroud a fairly run-of-the-mill thriller.

The villain of the story, Stoiss (overacted by Jorgen Kiil), criminal boss of the cyberdomain, has found that some unknown intruder has hacked in and is stealing his money. Suspecting everyone, Stoiss kidnaps his webmaster J.B. (played by the ultra-stoic Lars Bom) and attaches a special device directly to his heart. J.B. must find the intruder and get back the money before the device counts down 35 hours and kills him. Close scrutiny of the story is not recommended as it relies on many shopworn clichés of film noir and so many other B-grade futuristic thrillers.

The film starts well enough with the setup of the "cyberspace" mystery but abandons the cyber parts of the story very quickly. There are illogical points such as the fact that J.B. has a very limited amount of time to do his work and seems to spend a lot of it doing nothing or doing totally unrelated things. The fast pace of the story covers some of these flaws but in turn makes the last third of the movie a feat of concentration to unravel.

The acting is hard to judge as the film has been dubbed into English which results in a uniformly stilted quality to the dialogue. Among the minor characters, Puk Sharbau and Karin Rorbech are both attractive in their supporting roles as J.B.'s and Stoiss' girlfriends, respectively.

Still, there are some good sequences and overall, the film is reasonably diverting. But it has a feel of one of those "not quite there" science fiction extravaganzas that populate the Sci Fi Channel and USA Network. It seems so often that these low-budget movies try to get by on premise mixed with clichés and melodrama in place of depth and originality. I feel like the hook of a film about cyberspace and a "webmaster" has been used to lure me into another reworking of the "same old same old" thriller plot.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image transfer, featuring the original widescreen format, is very crisp and rich in color. The film has a sort of TV quality—budgetary restraints made for claustrophobic settings and the "outside" shots are almost entirely and obviously computer-generated. But the resolution allows for details to be very finely rendered. Digitally mastered, this film made me wonder about the day when films might be made entirely for DVD release.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio transfer of this film is one of the most pleasant aspects of this release. The soundtrack consists of some fine techno music and the sound is consistently sharp and powerful. Both the surround and 5.1 tracks allow for good listening at different sound levels. Turned up loud, it is potent and when turned down, it is ambient. Several excellent uses of sweeping sound enhance the action sequences, the virtual-world scenes and the party at the villain's headquarters. The director's experience as a music video maker is shown to great advantage.

The dialogue is dubbed and though it is a fine job, there is still that "stilted" quality to the "readings." Also, there are a few translation clunkers.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Thomas Borch Nielsen and Visual Effects Supervisor Kirsten Skytte
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: This DVD speaks to the extras issue directly by not having any really to speak of on the disc beyond the trailer and audio commentary by the director and special effects supervisor mentioned above. The commentary is mildly interesting as the two relate anecdotes about the making of the film. But, this is one case where I did not really feel like I needed any extras. Sometimes, I would rather just have a good copy of the movie and don't feel the need for some of the needless "shovelware" extras that are added to DVDs so that the price can be jacked up. If pressed, I would find it hard to come up with extras that I would have wanted to be included. Perhaps an isolated music track would be interesting, but not at the cost of a more expensive disc.

On the other hand, the menu interface is outstanding. I suppose the fact that the story revolves around computer interface made it easier, but the menu system is very attractive and interesting.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

Definitely, Webmaster is a B-grade thriller that might have some interest for viewers interested in the genre of movies that exploit the Blade Runner style of future (obviously there is no shortage of those!) or the integration of computers into our lives. But, unfortunately, without those trappings what is left is a D-grade story.

 


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