CIRCUITRY MAN (1990) / PLUGHEAD REWIRED: CIRCUITRY MAN II (1994) is a double-feature of two post-apocalyptic, low-budget science fiction films.
CIRCUITRY MAN is set in the near future, after the ozone layer is depleted, destroying the oxygen in the atmosphere and leaving the Earth's surface uninhabitable. In underground Los Angeles, ex-bodyguard Lori (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) is forced out of retirement by Plughead (Vernon Wells), who uses outlets in his skull to tap into people's emotions. Lori must deliver some computer chips to New York City with an android pleasure unit named Danner (Jim Metzler) using only underground routes. In the sequel, android Danner reluctantly accepts an offer from FBI agent Kyle (Deborah Shelton) to travel to Brazil and deactivate Plughead.
Well, there isn't much to recommend here for these films. At their best, they are bland Mad Max rip-offs. At their worst, they become laughably unwatchable. The first film scores points for starring Dan Wheeler-Nicholson (who people likely remember as the toweled beauty from FLETCH), but otherwise provides little reason to watch. The sequel includes Traci Lords, which will probably interest some people, but is significantly less enjoyable. These are the type of movies that you may find yourself watching on TNT or Cinemax when you can't sleep at night, but they likely aren't something you'd want to seek out on DVD.
Both films are presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen ratio (anamorphically-enhanced for 16x9 televisions). Detail is a bit soft and the colors are not as solid as I would have liked. The first film is very dark and tends to make fine details and brighter colors more difficult to see. However, the transfers are very good and just about every problem is a result of the low-budget nature of the film, not to the actual DVD transfer. Both films are surprisingly clean and free from damage, especially given their budgets and "B-movie" stature.
Both films sport an adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The audio (especially on the first film) is a bit flat, with limited range. However, like the video issues, all of the issues with the audio can be attributed to the budget of the films themselves and not to the way it was transferred to disc. Both films are mixed fairly well considering the budget, dialog is always easy to understand, and the track is free of any distortion.
Surprisingly, each film includes an audio commentary track with star Vernon Wells, writer/directors Steven and Robert Lovy, and the music composer for each film (Deborah Holland for I; Tim Kelly for II). Both of these commentaries are enjoyable (more so than the films themselves, actually) and amount to informal discussions about budget constraints and low-cost filmmaking. The tone is always light and informative, and many people will be pleased with this bonus feature. The only other supplements are theatrical trailers to these films, plus a bonus trailer for Johnny Mnemonic. Subtitles are provided in both English and Spanish.
Fans of these films should be more than happy with their presentation on DVD -- both films are on one budget-priced DVD, with a decent audio/video transfer and some surprisingly good supplements. However, I found the films themselves to be pretty terrible so I have trouble recommending this DVD, even as a rental. But, if you like these movies -- or these type of movies -- you should definitely get the DVD.